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How To Heal The Mother Wound

Updated: Feb 2

"I believe not only that trauma is curable, but that the healing process can be a catalyst for profound awakening—a portal opening to emotional and genuine spiritual transformation." - Peter Levine, Phd

Every painful mother-child relationship is it’s own unique tragedy.

No two mother wounds can ever be the same.

Whether we’re talking about two people raised on opposite sides of the world or we’re talking about two siblings raised by the same mom, every mother wound healing journey will require a unique set of tools.

The set of tools you’ll use to heal your mother wound will be different from the ones someone else used to heal their mother wound.

That’s why healing the mother wound isn’t about following some “5-step roadmap” that worked for someone else, and instead about finding the tools (and ultimately the path) that’s right for you.

In this blog post I’m sharing 7 tools for healing the mother wound that I find myself recommending the most often. My hope is that you might find a new tool or two to add to your mother wound recovery toolkit.

Let’s get started!

1. Accept your truth

For the majority of the clients I work with, healing the mother wound begins with mother wound acceptance. Maybe you fall into this group as well.

For Darrell Hammond, acceptance was crucial to his personal recovery process. Here’s how he sums it up: “Nothing was really successful until the truth about my life was acknowledged.”

What is mother wound acceptance?

Before we dive deeper into mother wound acceptance, let’s first take a look at what it’s not.

Mother wound acceptance is not:

  • Downplaying your mother wound: “It wasn’t that bad.”

  • Condoning your mother wound: “It’s really okay.”

  • Appreciating your mother wound: “I’m glad it happened.”

  • Celebrating your mother wound: “I love having it.”

Accepting your mother wound doesn't mean appreciating your mother wound.

Accepting your mother wound simply means allowing yourself to know the truth about your mother wound mom MW mom and how she’s treated you.

At its core, mother wound acceptance is all about being radically honest and transparent with yourself.

Mother wound acceptance sounds like:

  • “I acknowledge that I have the mother wound at no fault of my own.”

  • “My mom failed to meet my needs.”

  • “This pain that I carry with me from mom is valid.”

  • “My memories of mom abusing me are real.”

  • “I’m a mother wound survivor.”

Question for reflection: How comfortable are you with the above statements? Which ones are the least comfortable for you? Why do you think this might be?

2. Allow your feelings

Our feelings are as human as our need for oxygen. Yet most mother wound sufferers have a difficult if not downright contentious relationship with their own feelings. Before we heal this part of the mother wound, it’s as if we’re going through the day with “How I feel is not okay” running on repeat inside our heads. We aren’t allowing our feelings. We’re guarding against them.

“Make room for your own thoughts and feelings! Allow yourself to feel sad, angry, guilty, doubtful.” - Jeff Foster

And when you’ve grown up with a mom who invalidated and dismissed your feelings with harsh words like “Stop crying” or “Get over it” or “You’re too sensitive,” this discomfort with your own emotions isn’t surprising. It actually makes perfect sense. The one person who was supposed to accept and love you—your big, messy feelings included—exactly as you are didn’t. Of course that’s going to leave a painful scar.

Thankfully, we can learn to relate to our feelings in ways that are healthy and loving no matter how old we are. In other words, we aren’t doomed to make our mothers’ war against our feelings our own war against them. Ultimately their fear of our feelings is about them, not us.

“People who feel are a threat to the system, whether they feel angry, happy, hateful, contented, vindictive, or joyful.” - Anne Wilson Schaef

Of course if you weren’t taught how to allow your feelings or worse you were shamed or punished for expressing them, learning to do differently will take time. A good way to begin this process is to teach yourself the truth about your feelings. Nine key truths about your feelings to teach yourself include:

  1. Your feelings are okay.

  2. Your feelings are allowed.

  3. Your feelings matter.

  4. Your feelings are valid.

  5. Your feelings do not define you.

  6. Your feelings aren’t “too much.”

  7. Your feelings aren’t permanent.

  8. Your feelings aren’t a burden.

  9. Your feelings just are.

3. Get support

I don’t usually say any one tool is a must for healing the mother wound, but when it comes to support I make an exception.

Here’s why: Ask any mental health professional who’s knowledgeable about relational or developmental trauma (the mother wound counts as both) about the therapeutic value of support and they’ll consistently tell you to take it rather than leave it.

It all boils down to this one fundamental truth: We are wounded in relationship, and we heal in relationship.

Now if the idea of reaching out for support makes you feel nervous, I have some good news for you! When it comes to finding specialized mother wound support in 2024 you have more options available to you than at any other time in history. How’s that for some smile-worthy news?

The 5 types of mother wound support

There’s five main ways to receive mother wound support. These are:

  1. Seeing a mother wound counselor individually.

  2. Seeing a mother wound counselor with your mom (obviously this option is not workable or even safe for everyone).

  3. Attending group mother wound counseling.

  4. Joining an online mother wound recovery community.

  5. Joining an in-person mother wound recovery community.

Mother wound counseling

Now of these options, the most expensive will obviously be individual mother wound counseling and mother-child joint mother wound counseling.

You can expect to pay anywhere between $150-$250 per session, as these are the most personalized forms of support.

If you want to go the counseling route, but you’re looking for something a little bit more affordable, another option worth pursuing is mother wound group counseling.

Not only will you save a considerable amount of money, you’ll also reap the benefit of hearing from other mother wound survivors along the way.

Plus, get this: research shows that group counseling is just as effective as individualized counseling!

Looking to learn more?

Click here to read my blog post about 1-1 mother wound counseling, or click here to read my blog post about restorative mother-child counseling.

Mother wound recovery communities

If you’re already in a mother wound recovery community, you can go ahead and skip this section because I won’t be telling you anything you don’t already know about these little powerhouses.

New to the wonderful world of online mother wound recovery communities? Keep reading so I can tell you everything you need to know!

First off, let’s look at cost.

For less than the price of one mother wound counseling session you can have three full months of access to an MWRC!

Unlike counselors, MWRCs don’t have business hours meaning you can log in for some much needed mother wound help or encouragement any day, any time, anywhere.

Next, let’s talk about what you can expect to find in an MWRC.

Mother wound recovery takes two types of tools: education and support. That’s why you’ll find both in any good MWRC.

Some of the education options you’ll find in MWRCs include things like:

  • Interactive workbooks

  • Reflective journals

  • Worksheets

  • Book recommendations

  • Guidebooks

Some of the support options you’ll find in MWRCs include things like:

  • A private, members-only community forum.

  • Private chat channels for real-time conversations.

  • Private workshops to either attend or watch later.

  • Office hours where you can ask the host—often a counselor—questions.

Before joining an MWRC you’ll want to get clear on what’s being offered so you can determine if that particular one is a good fit for you. If it doesn’t have what you’re looking for, you can always look for one that’s a better fit.

Heads up: Not all MWRCs are created equal. If members cannot make their own posts, that’s not a community—it’s an advertising space. Also be on the look out for MWRCs that want you to pay money for access to a Facebook group. Facebook is free and not something you should be paying for!

To learn about the MWRC hosted by the Mother Wound Project, click here.

4. Set boundaries

While it’s true that you can’t change your mother, something you can do is change how (and maybe even if) you interact with her. This is where my favorite b-word comes in. Boundaries. Now since you’re reading this blog post, chances are your mom didn’t encourage or support you in developing healthy boundaries. If you’re like many of my mother wound clients, your mom may have even shamed or punished you as a child for attempting to have boundaries. Whatever the specifics, I’ve yet to work with a mother wound client who couldn’t benefit from working on their boundaries.

When you’re still in contact with mom

If your mother is still in your life, you’ll want to spend some time thinking about any boundaries you might need to put in place with her order to best care for yourself moving forward. Healthy boundaries for you might look like:

  • Choosing not to speak with Mom about contentious topics.

  • Meeting up with Mom somewhere neutral like at a park.

  • Limiting the amount of time you spend with Mom.

When you’ve gone no contact

If you’ve made the decision to estrange yourself from your mom or your mom has cut you off, your work around boundaries as you heal your mother wound will look a little bit different. Healthy boundaries for you might look like:

  • Not responding to your ex-mom’s texts, emails, or calls.

  • Asking family members not to pressure you into seeing your ex-mom.

  • Declining to justify to a new friend why you don’t have a relationship with your ex-mom.

When mother has passed-away

Some of my clients are surprised to learn that the death of their mother doesn’t involve an end to their need for boundaries. In fact, sometimes the passing of one’s mom can necessitate needing to have even more boundaries than when she was still living. Healthy boundaries if your mom has passed-away might look like:

  • Asking your dad not to share with you how much he misses your mom.

  • Telling your sisters you won’t be attending your mom’s funeral.

  • Making the decision to not look through old photographs of you with your mom.

To read more about boundaries as they relate to the mother wound check out these other MWP blog posts:

5. Self-mothering

The word “mother” isn’t just the role someone played (or failed to play) in your life. It’s also a verb, which means this is one baby you don’t want to toss with the bath water. Just because our moms weren’t capable of mothering us doesn’t mean we can’t learn to mother ourselves in ways that are infinitely nurturing, loving and supportive. What we’re talking about of course is self-mothering, which is a specific type of self-parenting that’s especially helpful for anyone who who knows what it is to have a self-centered, entitled, absent, or abusive mother.

How to mother yourself

The number of different practices and techniques that you can use to mother yourself are truly limitless. I could write a whole workbook full of them. But since this is a blog post and I want to be mindful of your time, here’s some examples of self-mothering to help get you started:

  • Speaking to yourself from a place of compassion and empathy instead of animosity and shame (e.g. telling yourself “Making mistakes is part of life” instead of “What’s wrong with you? You’re so stupid!” when you make a mistake).

  • Giving yourself permission to rest when you need to rest instead of prioritizing productivity and busyness (e.g. not pressuring yourself to every single maintain plan when what you really need is to take an afternoon nap or read a book on the couch with a pet).

  • Allowing yourself to say no to relationships with people who aren’t good for you, even if they might feel disappointed or rejected by your choice.

  • Refraining from punishing yourself for not knowing better or for doing differently today than you would have liked.

Looking for words of wisdom that your inner mother can share with your inner child? Check out these other MWP blog posts:


Meet Reclaim!

Stephi Wagner, MSW's 60-day mother wound healing journal is here! If you like what Stephi shares on Instagram, you won't want to miss this. Mother wound recovery here you come!

reclaim - 60-day mother wound journal


Learn about how the Mother Wound Project can help with 1:1 support.

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