THE BLOG
05/07/2013 02:46 pm ET Updated Jul 07, 2013

Mother Dearest, Mother Damnedest

Mother's Day is around the corner, when you celebrate all the picture-perfect moments you're supposed to have enjoyed with mom. You know, the woman who waited up for you when you were out on dates, held your hand when boyfriends stood you up -- the "best friend" type of mother you still talk to every day on the phone. But possibly, quite possibly, that isn't your relationship to your mother at all. It certainly wasn't mine.

Film star Joan Crawford's daughter, Christina Crawford, wrote a scathing book called Mommie Dearest -- a portrait of growing up with an alcoholic mother with a violent temper, an obsession with cleanliness, and little love for her adopted children. You may not have grown up with a mother who lacked basic parenting skills, but chances are you still hear your mother's voice in your head. It's the one that you heard frequently while growing up, the one that says you'll never be good enough, thin enough, smart enough. It's a tape loop you can't seem to turn off.

Here's one way to silence that inner voice: write down what it's saying to you, and then examine the statements. True, it can be painful to hang out with that voice, but if you're simply trying to ignore it, you're at its mercy. Let it take over for a moment and spew forth all its nasty commentary. It might even sound like the voice of reason. Subconsciously you may think, "Mom was right, I'll never be able to get along without a man." Or, "Mom warned me if I didn't change majors I'd never get a job."

Once you are aware of what that voice is saying to you, try to understand where Mom's limiting belief comes from. Was your mother a worrier? Were you constantly cautioned against trying too hard, reaching too far, overstepping the bounds? Does that voice in your head say, wait a minute, maybe I better not try for that job, that man, or wear anything that sexy? Was mom a closet anorexic who wouldn't let you have a sandwich with two pieces of bread because then, for sure, you'd get fat and never get a man? Did she drink or take prescription drugs and leave you to run the house? Was she a single mom obsessed with money? Was she abused as a child?

If you really look at that voice in your head, and examine the reasons it might be there, you can start to override it with positive statements about yourself. Yes, you are enough. You are worthy. You are smart. You are attractive.

Not many of us had the "perfect" mother -- always loving and kind, supportive of our efforts, who filled us with a positive outlook on life and on our own abilities. But maybe it's time to put to rest mom's voice in your head; use Mother's Day as an annual reminder to work toward that goal.

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