I’m feeling quite sentimental and nostalgic this morning. It’s been almost a year since I left India, and came to Australia. Back then, my intention was to just stay for 3 months, spend time with my family, and then continue on elsewhere. But, as life has it, that’s not what happened.
One of the main reasons I came to Australia, was because I felt an overwhelming need to spend time with my mother. I am getting older. She is getting older. The opportunity to spend quality time together and to make peace with our tumultuous past was too valuable to ignore. And even when it’s scary, I always listen to my inner guidance. I know that there is something to this, even if it doesn’t make logical and intellectual sense.
The family issues that I had come to heal, and especially mother-line wounds, ran deeper than I had first suspected, and 3 months wasn’t enough time to unravel and resolve this threads that were tying me in knots. Things happened. Words were said. Feelings were felt. And things didn’t go the way I had imagined or hoped that they would. On the outside, they went much, much worse. But on the inside, what happened was exactly what I needed, to set me free. (The exact story of what happened will be told. One day.)
And as I look back at this incredible challenging time that I faced last year, I am grateful. Because, inadvertently, throughout the years of what has been a dysfunctional relationship, there are many transformative things that I have learnt about life from my mother. Today, I will share with you 6 of them.
6 Transformative things I have learnt about life from my mother.
1. Acceptance is paramount for a happy, fulfilling life.
I spent most of my childhood believing that my mother was pretty much perfect. She was one of those self-righteous parents who believed that she knew it all. And I believed her. Until I grew up, and realised that there is no such thing as one way to be, or do things.
She often complained and was sad that she didn’t feel accepted by others, when in truth, this experience was simply a reflection of her own non-acceptance of others. Her attitude was derived from a sense that her beliefs, actions, or affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person. Self-righteous individuals are often intolerant of the opinions and behaviors of others.
What I learned from this, is to remain open-hearted and accepting of the myriad ways that life can be lived, seen and perceived. There is no wrong or right way. There is simply the path that we each choose.
2. Mother’s (or anyone, really) are wounded children too.
For so many of us, we can look into our past, and see how the interactions and relationships with our parents formed so much of who are, and who we have become. As adults we have the opportunity to review these beliefs and habits we have learned, and choose to let the ones go, that no longer serve us, or the direction we are growing in. This is a really valuable time because we have an incredibly empowering choice to make:
Take responsibility for ourselves, who are, and who we will become.
Blame our parents for the (mostly innocent) choices they made, and not do anything to change.
We are all wounded children. Including our mothers. My own mother, in her late 50’s still woes the fact that she didn’t receive love from her own mother in the way that she wanted to be loved. It saddens her deeply. She is so deeply wounded by this concept that there is a lack of love in her life, that she cannot feel or experience the love that she has in her life, now.
What I have learned from this, is that it’s really important to heal our wounds, so we can be fully present, and enjoy life as it actually is now, instead of through a filter of what we once believed was true. I have also learned to have and hold great compassion, as this pain she feels is very real for her, even though it also a choice.
3. Pain is an addiction.
We all have our ‘things’. Our own personal addictions. They come in many, many forms. Another way of viewing addictions is: the level of Being, or experience that feels comfortable and normal to you, but is in fact, destructive on some level. Creating and causing pain is one form of addiction. Deepak Chopra says that the addiction to pain is rooted in the beliefs and motivations that give it justice.
My mother has, sadly, experienced a tremendous amount of pain in her life. From her stories, it sounds like her childhood was filled with painful, hurtful, horrible experiences which left her feeling rejected, unwanted, and like she didn’t belong. Unless we heal them, we tend to repeat the patterns that we learn in childhood, forever, and so, for her, feeling pain is her normal. In fact, when she isn’t feeling painful experiences in her life, she will go out and unwittingly create some, so she can return to her level of comfort, which is pain.
What I learned is that it’s invaluable to look at our own addictions, and clear the way, for a better, sweeter, kinder life. We all have them, and it’s up to us to release them.
4. Without awareness, patterns repeat themselves.
As I mentioned above, pain was a pattern that, for my mother, then became an addiction. Our patterns are the things that we subconsciously learn in life, and that then continuously repeat themselves until we decide to unlearn them. Some patterns are good. Some patterns are destructive.
For my mother, the patterns were around feeling unwanted, judged and rejected. That’s what she experienced as a child, and then, has continued to experience throughout her adult life. She consistently attracts experiences into her life that match those negative patterns, meaning that, over and over again, in different situations and with different people, she feels unwanted, judged and rejected. (Including with me.)
From this, I learned that our patterns can be examined and changed, as long as we are willing to do the inner work. Luckily, and gratefully, I’ve cleared those patterns from my own life many years ago, but it took self-awareness, willingness to change, and a level of curiosity to clear them.
5. Being a victim is a choice.
Based on her life experiences, my mother feels like so many people have done her wrong, and that she is a victim. I get that. But I don’t agree. You see, this is what I believe:
If we want our lives to change, we have to change.
As long as we remain in the victim mentality we are giving our power away to all the people in the world, who could possibly do wrong with us. When we choose to be empowered, we get clear on our ability to create our experiences, by cleaning up our thoughts and beliefs, getting clear on our boundaries, and most importantly, treating ourselves in the ways that we wish to be treated. No one can treat you in any way, unless you let them. While she might struggle with this concept, especially because it confronts her addiction to pain, being a victim is her choice.
Through being an avid observer and student, I learned that we always have a choice in every moment. Being a victim is one choice. Being self-aware and empowered is another. I know which one I prefer.
6. You get more of what you focus on.
My mother’s days are filled with the sadness of the pain that she has experienced in her life. She focuses so closely on this pain, that it engulfs her entire world and Being. As a daughter, this hurts, because no-one wants to see their loved ones suffer, be it emotional pain, or physical. (And often, unresolved emotional pain — eventually turns into physical pain.) My mother focuses on that pain so succinctly that she creates more of it. Pain in her relationships with all of her family members, in her friendships and with her intimate partners. It’s really, really sad.
This has taught me, that you always experience more of what you focus on. When you focus on love, on joy, on happiness, on peace, on the way that people uplift and support you, you get more of that. When you focus on the hurt and pain, you get more of that, too.
My mother has been such great teacher for me and I am very grateful for that. We might not have the sweet, loving mother-daughter relationship that Hollywood films are made up of, but there is definitely a deep love there, and I don’t think our relationship could be more perfect. It teaches us both, exactly what we need, in exactly the right moments. And it gives us a platform to grow, evolve and truly break free from the paradigms of limitation, by allowing us to examine life from a perspective of how it comes together, in the building blocks of beliefs, mindsets and reflected experiences.
Having gone through this journey of healing my own mother-line (and father-line — but that’s a story for another time) I am able to help others on their path, do the same. Because this is what sets us free. Being really honest, aware, compassionate and open to change has helped me shoot for the stars and live a life that, for many, only dreams are made of. I have examined the limitations that have been mirrored so beautifully to me by my mother and used this mirror to heal myself and my life. And as I have changed, my life experiences have changed. Life continues to open up, to blossom, to become sweeter and more beautiful, as I continue down this journey of unraveling and unlearning the beliefs, ideas, thoughts and patterns that hold me back, contract me, and stop me from being what we all truly are: limitless.