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Help! I’m Turning Into My Mum! Breaking Toxic Cycles With Psychotherapy

By July 2, 2023July 4th, 2023Trauma Recovery

Have you ever caught yourself thinking, “Oh, these words, this tone of voice, this grimace on my face.. .just like my mother’s!” In moments like these, a whirlwind of emotions can sweep through our hearts, from pride and connection to a deep-seated fear: the fear of becoming like our mothers. 

As we journey into adulthood, often becoming mothers ourselves and then growing more mature, we inevitably notice traits or behaviours in ourselves that resemble those of our mothers. And in response, we often put significant efforts into fighting against and resisting these similarities. 

In this article, we will delve into the intricate dynamics of mother-daughter relationships, explore how psychotherapy empowers us to conquer this fear and offers us the opportunity to break free from repeating generational patterns that don’t align with our personal truth and values.

Where it All Starts: Genetics and Childhood Experiences

Firstly, we need to acknowledge the role of genetics. Sooner or later we are bound to notice certain physiological predispositions, personality traits, or physical resemblances that we have inherited from our mothers. While we cannot control our genetic makeup, we have ample choice in how we shape ourselves and become who we want to be. It’s like having a canvas and deciding what kind of painting we want to create.

However, our freedom to freely create this painting is always to some extent impacted by our early experiences. Our initial sense, knowledge, and understanding of the world and of ourselves are shaped by interactions with our mothers and/or other significant caregivers, leaving an indelible mark on us. The way we were nurtured, the values instilled in us, and the dynamics within our family all contribute to our perception of self.

As we mature, the fear of repeating the mistakes or patterns we observed in our mothers becomes more pronounced. We may find ourselves rebelling against it, striving to do the do/be ‘the opposite’, or we may resign ourselves to what feels like an inescapable prison. 

For most of us, we secretly worry that we might embody the same behaviours and unknowingly pass on the same wounds to our own children. Or, that we might unconsciously repeat the same mistakes in our close relationships, causing pain and suffering.

However, this fear can also serve as a powerful catalyst for self-reflection and personal growth.

By bravely exploring what beliefs and limitations we carry in us and addressing them head-on, we not only liberate ourselves from the prison of conditioning and limiting beliefs but also break old family patterns that have been passed down from mother to daughter often for generations. By doing so, we can create a brighter tomorrow for our children and grandchildren. 

When Things Go Wrong: Understanding the Impact of Difficult Mother-Daughter Relationship

Life becomes more complex when our relationship with our mother was strained during our childhood. The effects of such a challenging dynamic can leave a lasting imprint on our adult lives, keeping us stuck in various aspects.

There are three primary areas in which early difficulties with our mothers can create enduring, unhelpful patterns:

  1. Our self-worth and self-confidence. Growing up in a challenging or overly toxic mother-daughter relationship can make us feel like we’re not good enough. Not being seen, accepted, or loved for who were as little girls can make us feel not deserving of love, respect and care.  Constant criticism, belittling, or being made to feel invalid can make us doubt ourselves and our abilities. This can really mess with our confidence and decision-making when we’re older.
  2. Our ability to form healthy relationships with others: If our first and significant relationship with our mother lacked safety and trust, it becomes difficult to extend that trust to others as we grow older. Additionally, we may not have learned how to trust ourselves, leading to uncertainty about whom to trust and how to protect ourselves. This can manifest as emotional withdrawal even in safe relationships or clinging to those who mistreat us. Unhealthy patterns we observed from our mothers, such as manipulation, control, or struggles with trust, can infiltrate our romantic relationships, friendships, and even our own parenting. Establishing boundaries, expressing needs, and fostering healthy emotional connections may become challenging.
  3. Parenting our own children: Many women who experienced difficult relationships with their mothers fear repeating the same mistakes. Some may even decide against having children due to this concern. Others may oscillate between being overprotective and distant, striving to be the complete opposite of their mothers but, unknowingly, slipping into the old, unhealthy patterns. There is also the danger of becoming very rigid and inflexible in their attempts to distance themselves from their mothers’ ways.

Recognizing the impact of the relationships you had with your mum on who you are today is always the first step toward breaking free from negative the cycle. With self-awareness, self-compassion, and a commitment to personal growth, we can find healing, build healthier relationships, and break free from the grip of our past.

Marian’s Story: Overcoming the Cycle of Negativity With Psychotherapy

When Marian reached out to me, she told me about her experience of growing up with a negative, critical, and distant mother. She carried the heavy burden of her mother’s dissatisfaction and still felt deeply hurt by dismissive and belittling remarks.

As you may imagine, Marian was determined not to replicate those patterns in her own life.

However, one day, as a loving mother to two young girls, she found herself caught in the whirlwind of life’s demands and the pressures of her relationship with her husband. She soon discovered that she had unknowingly fallen into a pattern of negativity and criticism, mirroring the behaviour she had witnessed in her own mother. She often caught herself reacting with a raised voice, harsh words, and emotional distance towards her daughters, only to be overwhelmed by waves of guilt and remorse a few moments later.

Recognizing that her worst fears were unfolding, Marian decided it was time to confront the impact of her childhood relationship with her mother on her current relationship with her daughters. She was determined to break free and create a different path for herself and her children. And she believed psychotherapy would help. 

Our Psychotherapy Journey

Together, we delved into the roots of her behaviour, exploring the lingering childhood emotions, unfulfilled needs, and deep frustration and loneliness that were still playing out in the background.

With newfound self-awareness, Marian actively worked on breaking the cycle of negativity. She first acknowledged her right and the importance of taking good care of herself, recognizing that by nourishing her own well-being, she could better support others. Marian learned how to tend to her own inner wounds, those feelings of inadequacy and invisibility that had long plagued her. She also acquired practical strategies to communicate her feelings effectively and create a more nurturing environment for her children.

As Marian started to feel more balanced within herself and emotionally grounded, a natural shift occurred in her relationships, not only with her daughters but also with her husband, friends, and colleagues. Over time, Marian witnessed a remarkable transformation in her connection with her children. The walls of distance and criticism crumbled, giving way to open communication and genuine connection. She observed how her children blossomed through their warm connection and felt a renewed sense of pride in herself as a mother.


The Healing Journey: Psychotherapy as a Catalyst for Change

Marian’s journey serves as an inspiration for all of us who strive to break free from negative patterns and create a nurturing environment for ourselves and our loved ones. 

If you fear you’re becoming like your mum it’s time to embark on a journey of deep exploration of self-discovery. Through psychotherapy and personal growth, you will uncover layers of your true identity and stop living on autopilot that was not even programmed by you. 

As you dive into understanding yourself better, you will start to separate your own values, beliefs, and desires from those influenced by your mother.  You will reconnect to your unique qualities, dreams, and aspirations. In the course of psychotherapy, you will finally let go of expectations and limitations imposed by generational patterns, giving you the freedom to embrace your authentic self

It’s a transformative journey where you will reclaim your autonomy, and assert your own voice and needs. Embracing your true identity always brings confidence and inner peace. By living authentically and choosing a path aligned with your values and aspirations, you will inspire not only yourself but also those around you.

So, next time you catch yourself talking, behaving or looking like your mum – say thank you to yourself.  It’s one of the most powerful reminders that life is an invitation to reveal your true essence and create a life that is uniquely yours.

Let me be your guide on this transformative journey.  Get My Free Mini-Course with 3 Powerful Strategies to Overcome Childhood Toxic Stress & Trauma and Unlock Your Potential and Reclaim Your Life! CLICK HERE TO GET IMMEDIATE ACCESS



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