Updated: Sep 23
“At the heart of your suffering, know that you are not alone.” - Jeff Foster
These words of wisdom from Jeff Foster are coming to you from my personal self-parenting toolbox.
If your childhood trauma or mother wound includes emotional abuse or neglect, limiting beliefs about your worth, or parentification, then this list of quotes was put together for you.
I hope Jeff’s soothing reminders will be as comforting for your inner child as they’ve been for mine.
1. “Child, know that I will love you if you succeed. And know that I will love you equally if you fail.” - Jeff Foster
Your mistakes do not define you. Your worth. Your lovability. These are as old and steady as the universe.
2. “It’s okay to feel sad, without trying to not feel sad, without judging yourself at all.” - Jeff Foster
Your sadness is just as valid as your joy. Feeling sad doesn’t make you “bad” or “broken.” It just means you’re alive.
3. “You are not less because you make less, or know less, or win less, or own less. And you are not more because you have more, or attain more, or succeed more.” - Jeff Foster
The idea that some people are worth more than other people is a lie. It’s okay not to believe it.
4. “Others tried to convince you that you were not good enough, because they too felt not good enough.” - Jeff Foster
Their pain was always just that; their pain. Not yours. You’ve always been enough, regardless of their ability to help you reflect it.
5. “Make room for your own thoughts and feelings! Allow yourself to feel sad, angry, guilty, doubtful.” - Jeff Foster
You’re allowed to feel how you feel. Welcome your feelings just like you welcome the sunshine and the caterpillars in the spring.
6. “It’s okay not to feel okay right now.” - Jeff Foster
Sometimes we humans feel okay and sometimes we don’t. Not feeling okay is just as okay as feeling okay.
7. “You were lovable exactly as you were. In your original form. From the beginning, you were whole. And complete. And worthy. Worthy of love.” - Jeff Foster
If your parent couldn’t see how totally and completely lovable you were—if they still can’t see it—that’s about them, not you. Your worth is as constant as the ocean.
8. “You could never be what they wanted you to be.” - Jeff Foster
When the grown ups aren’t happy with who they are, they can’t be happy with who you are. It’s like they’re looking at you and the whole world through not-happy-with-who-anybody-is glasses.
9. “You wouldn’t fit in. You couldn’t conform. You could never squeeze yourself into their ideal of “perfection.” The perfect thoughts and feelings, the “right” way to be, the dance they told you to dance—your heart was always too big.” - Jeff Foster
You weren’t made to live in someone else’s story, even if that person is your parent. Keep writing your own story.
10. “They will teach you what they think is true.” - Jeff Foster
The grown ups aren’t always right, even if they always think they are. Sometimes you’ll know the truth better than they do.
11. “Disappointment can be your greatest teacher and friend.” - Jeff Foster
It’s okay to feel disappointed. Your disappointment is trying to tell you something important. It’s okay to listen.
12. “They taught you that you were small. They told you that you were incomplete, limited. That there was something missing. Some deficiency. Something “wrong” with you. That you were “less then.” And others were “more than.” They were mistaken, always.” - Jeff Foster
You’ve always been enough. You’ve never been “too much.” You’ll always be perfect enough-ness.
13. “To think your thoughts, and feel your feelings. That takes great courage.” - Jeff Foster
True courage looks like bringing your whole self along for the ride.
14. “Don’t believe the biggest lie of all: that you’re supposed to be “over” something or someone “by now”; that “by now” you should be better, immune, healed, or at least “more enlightened.” - Jeff Foster
Sometimes other people will want you to “get over it” so they can feel better. It’s not your job to make other people feel better.
15. “Every great adventure is fueled by rest.” - Jeff Foster
Think about the house-cat curled up by the toasty fire and the lion lounging in the speckled shade at the zoo. They let themselves get the rest they need. It’s okay for you to get the rest you need, too.
16. “It’s okay that they are upset. It really is. Give them space to be upset. It’s okay that they are disappointed in you. Give them space to be disappointed. It’s okay that they judge you. Make room for their judgments, too.” - Jeff Foster
Your parent’s feelings are just that—their feelings. They aren’t for you to carry or fix or change. And sometimes they aren’t at all true.
17. “Sometimes you have to commit to feeling worse in order to feel better.” - Jeff Foster
Our feelings don’t often move in straight lines. They move more like butterflies.
18. “Stop trying to change others, and they change, or not, in their own way, in their own sweet time.” - Jeff Foster
It’s not your job to change them or save them or carry their pain around on your shoulders for them. Their work is their own work to do.
19. “The more intensely you feel the joy of life, the more intensely you will feel the sorrow. That is the deal.” - Jeff Foster
Feelings are like fireflies. If half stayed home, the whole sky would be half as bright. To feel all our joy we need to welcome all our sadness, too.
20. “There is no shame in admitting that you cannot go on. Even the courageous need to rest.” - Jeff Foster
Rest is part of being human. It’s as human as you yourself are human. You’re allowed to rest even when the grown ups don’t allow themselves to rest.
21. “Thoughts are not the truth. And ultimately, thoughts are not even yours; they are not personal, not who you truly are. They are only voices, sounds, suggestions, judgments, opinions of the mind, coming and going all the time, like a flock of birds singing, every bird singing a different tune; a different opinion, suggestion, perspective.” - Jeff Foster
Thinking a thought doesn’t make you “bad.” Thoughts and feelings are like the weather and you are like the sky. The sky doesn’t feel bad about itself when the snow comes. The sky is simply the sky, always.
22. “You will be taught your family’s beliefs, values, codes of conduct. (Don’t take these as absolute truth; it’s just their version of truth.)” - Jeff Foster
Just because your parent thinks it’s true, that doesn’t make it automatically so. It might be true. It might not be true. All someone can possibly teach you is what they think is true. But you get to decide for yourself.
23. “You are beautiful in your imperfection, outrageously perfect in your doubts, lovable even in your feelings of unloveability. All these parts have been given, all are parts of the whole, and you were never less than whole.” - Jeff Foster
The only way for any of us humans to be perfect is to not be human. You’re perfectly imperfect and that’s perfectly okay.
24. “You are so imperfect, and that is exactly what makes you so perfect.” - Jeff Foster
You aren’t here to be perfect. Perfect hi and don’t exist. You’re here to be wholly and wonderfully and unashamedly yourself.
25. “No, they won’t understand you; they will call you depressed, self-indulgent, mad, but you will smile, for you are like the daffodil, and you never wanted to be understood. Your being is too vast to be understood.” - Jeff Foster
The adults who want you to blame yourself for their bad choices are the same adults who paint pictures of you that look nothing like you. “She’s so crazy,” and “She must be mentally ill,” they shout to distract themselves from reality. What they think of you, no matter how false, is in their lane, not yours. Keep driving.
26. “You have a right to exist, feel what you feel, think what you think, speak your truth even if your voice shakes. You have a right to your joy and a right to your sorrows.” - Jeff Foster
In this world there’s more than enough space for you to be who you really are. And who you really are is lovable exactly the way you are.
More from Jeff Foster
Looking for more Jeff Foster amazingness? Check out these resources:
His newest book: You Were Never Broken: Poems to Save Your Life
This talk of his: The Myth of "Letting Go"
His website: Life Without a Centre
His social: Instagram
Are you someone who wants to take your mother wound healing journey to the next level? Come join the conversation, learn more about the mother wound, and receive compassionate support in our now 100% free private mother wound healing community over in The Porch. Interested in keeping up with the latest Mother Wound Project news? Follow us on Instagram.