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Are you carrying a mother wound? Here’s how to heal

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Summary: Your unresolved mother wound can damage your relationships. Learn how to heal it and improve your connections.

If, as a child, you did not receive that close, connected bond with a caregiver, recognize that you may be suffering from a mother wound,” says Dr. Shefali Tsabary, a clinical psychologist and trainer of Mindvalley’s Conscious Parenting Mastery Quest.

As a result, you might feel the need to constantly seek approval from your partner. Or a nagging sense of insecurity in your relationship. Or the yearning for a connection.

It’s much like Gilmore Girls’ Lorelai Gilmore, whose dating life can be a bit chaotic, with her jumping into and out of relationships like a hot potato. Or This Is Us’ Randall Pearson, who puts such intense pressure on himself to be perfect, which stems from his desire to fit in and prove himself worthy in a predominantly white family.

As with these pop culture characters, this unresolved trauma can affect your self-esteem, relationships, and overall well-being. But healing the mother wound can lead you down a more fulfilling path in life, with healthier, more authentic connections with those around you.

What is the mother wound?

This wound is pain, hurt, and unresolved issues you carried from your childhood into your adulthood as a result of your relationship with your mother (hence, the “mother” in the name). It can be caused if she had neglected you, criticized you, was emotionally unavailable, or put unrealistic expectations on you.

For example, in the case of Lorelai, her mother, Emily, placed immense pressure on her to conform to a rigid lifestyle. And whoever is a fan of the show knows that it ultimately led to Lorelai’s teenage rebellion and estrangement.

But those aren’t the only ways a mother wound can show up. It can also manifest as feelings of unworthiness, perpetual guilt, low self-esteem, the inability to set healthy boundaries, and difficulties forming healthy relationships. And according to Dr. Shefali, you’ll “forever be looking for that mothering in the food, in the alcohol, in the relationship, in the career.

How the mother wound affects you and your relationships

To say that the mother wound can have a profound impact on your life is an understatement. As a matter of fact, research shows that mothers with unresolved trauma were likely to have insecure attachments themselves. That, consequently, could lead to their children having insecure attachments and so on and so forth until it becomes generational trauma.

The thing is, when you carry unresolved emotional pain from your relationship with your mother, it often seeps into how you interact with others. You might find yourself seeking approval, fearing abandonment, or struggling with trust.

Lorelai’s relationship with her daughter, Rory, is a great example. Her overcompensation as a mother stems from her desire to give Rory what she never received from Emily.

What’s more, in relationships, this wound can cause you to attract partners who mirror your unresolved mommy issues. You might find it challenging to express your needs or feel worthy of love and respect. Additionally, this wound can impact your parenting style, making it difficult to provide the emotional support your children need.

Signs you have a mother wound

The mother wound is often discussed in the context of women, like Lorelai Gilmore, who often feel pressure to live up to societal and familial expectations. However, it can—and does—affect both men and women.

Mother wound in daughters

  • Intense pressure to meet unrealistic expectations.
  • Constant pursuit of perfection to gain approval or avoid criticism.
  • Feeling torn between who you are and who your mother wanted you to be.
  • Difficulty forming healthy, supportive relationships, not only with men but also with other women.
  • Engaging in competitive or envious dynamics due to unresolved issues with your mother.

Mother wound in sons

  • Overwhelming responsibility to protect or please your mother, often at the expense of your own needs.
  • Developing patterns of fearful-avoidant attachment.
  • Struggling with trust, intimacy, or maintaining healthy boundaries.
  • Chronic feelings of anxiety or depression, often rooted in unresolved emotional pain.
  • A pervasive sense that you’re not deserving of love or affection.

Keep in mind that your mother wound does, in fact, stem from your relationship with your mother. And when you’re able to recognize these patterns and how they impact your life, you can take the necessary steps toward healing.

Mother wound vs. father wound

Both the mother and father wound stem from parental relationships, but they affect you in unique ways. Here’s a look at their differences side by side:

AspectMother woundFather wound
Emotional focusEmotional availability, nurturing, and validationAuthority, protection, and provision
Impact on self-worthStruggle with self-worth and emotional intimacyChallenges with authority figures and confidence
Common issuesFeelings of neglect, need for validationAbsence, over-criticism, fear of taking risks

When you know how each wound impacts you, you can better tailor your healing process. This way, you can focus on the specific areas of your inner child that need attention.

A mother hugging her child

How to heal the mother wound

You may wonder why you never feel soothed,” Dr. Shefali points out. “Well, the reason is this: that mother can never come from outside.” You can give yourself the mothering you never had, she adds. 

Here are a few tips from her Conscious Parenting Mastery Quest on Mindvalley that can help with healing the mother wound:

1. Break old patterns

Our early years shape us profoundly. As children, we absorb everything—our parents’ fears, anxieties, joys, and so on. We learn how to process emotions by watching them.

So if you grew up feeling like you had to create a false self to be accepted, it may just be time to address that.

Reflect on your childhood. Identify the patterns you inherited from your parents. Ask yourself: How did your parents express emotions? How did they deal with pain and joy?

Knowing what causes these emotional triggers, you can consciously choose to respond differently. 

As we do this work, we begin to realize that they too, like us, were raised unconsciously by their own parents,” explains Dr. Shefali. “And as we have compassion for ourselves, we release them from the expectations we hold.”

2. Turn your fears into courage

Fear of rejection. Abandonment. Inadequacy. These all can lead you to recreate unhealthy dynamics in your relationships.

It’s a lot like in This Is Us, where Randall is a perfectionist and a people pleaser. He takes on too much responsibility, like running for senator, and has difficulty sharing his burdens. This, undoubtedly, leads to stress and conflict with his wife, Beth.

This kind of fear can also be passed down to your children. By confronting your anxieties and seeing them for what they are—often future-based worries and cultural conditioning—you can break free from their grip.

In order to do this, we know now that it all begins from us,” Dr. Shefali advises. “We need to be comfortable with the taming of our own fears. If we haven’t transformed our own fears into courage, how can we help our children do the same? When we have the courage to see our fears as they are, we will realize how most of these fears are constructed in our minds.”

3. Accept and love yourself

Many of our struggles reflect our own insecurities. And it’s no different for your mother—her constant criticism of your messiness, for instance, might actually be her battling her own self-acceptance around orderliness.

The thing is, if we continue to be unaware or ignore how the “emotionally distant mother” trauma affected us, then we’ll continue to create a cycle of judgment and disconnect with the people around us. That includes our children.

I cannot emphasize enough: Your self-awareness is the only path toward a greater consciousness,” Dr. Shefali advises. It’s only when you accept yourself, love yourself, give yourself the self-care you need… It’s only then can you have unconditional love and connection in your relationships.

Heal. Rise. Thrive.

Healing the mother wound is one out of a list of frustrations and insecurities that plague so many of us, especially those who have children. But there is a groundbreaking solution that can help you break the cycle: Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s conscious parenting.

This approach will help you heal your inner child and shed the baggage of past generations. By prioritizing your own growth, you’ll gain the tools to:

  • Break free from negative patterns
  • Respond with empathy instead of reaction
  • Nurture a deep, meaningful connection with your child

As Dr. Shefali says, “The quest for wholeness can never begin on the external level. It is always an inside job.” And when you sign up for a free Mindvalley account, you can explore the opening lessons of the Quest and see how truly transformative this program really is.

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Written by

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is the SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. She brings a wealth of experience in writing and storytelling to her work, honed through her background in journalism. Drawing on her years in spa and wellness and having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
Picture of Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is the SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. She brings a wealth of experience in writing and storytelling to her work, honed through her background in journalism. Drawing on her years in spa and wellness and having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
Dr. Shefali Tsabary, leading expert in conscious parenting with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology
Expertise by

Endorsed by Oprah as “revolutionary” and a New York Times best-selling author, Dr. Shefali Tsabary is a leading expert in conscious parenting with a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Columbia University. Her approach emerged from personal challenges in parenting, recognizing that her frustrations were projections of her unmet childhood needs.

This insight led her to challenge traditional, controlling parenting models that pressure children and inhibit their autonomy. Integrating Western psychology with Eastern philosophy, Dr. Shefali advocates for a parenting style that respects children as sovereign beings, fosters deep connections, and emphasizes the importance of raising our own consciousness as parents.

Her work transforms parenting into a more empathetic and empowering experience for both parent and child.

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Mindvalley is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy content. We rely heavily on evidence-based sources, including peer-reviewed studies and insights from recognized experts in various personal growth fields. Our goal is to keep the information we share both current and factual. To learn more about our dedication to reliable reporting, you can read our detailed editorial standards.

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Mindvalley is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy content. 

We rely heavily on evidence-based sources, including peer-reviewed studies and insights from recognized experts in various personal growth fields. Our goal is to keep the information we share both current and factual. 

The Mindvalley fact-checking guidelines are based on:

To learn more about our dedication to reliable reporting, you can read our detailed editorial standards.