What I’ve Learned On My Mother Whisperers Journey

Val at Turnberry BeachAs most of you know, I’ve been on my own Mother Whisperers  journey for the past couple of years. I’d like to share with you what I have learned and where I am now.

It started with wanting to understand more about daughters and mothers and how to master this special relationship … and it has ended with a sense of  peace, acceptance and well being. The following are the beliefs that I have come to understand and now live by.

I hope you enjoy the insights from my experience. Val x

  • I recognize the love and the bond that connects my mother and myself. It is powerful, yet can’t diminish the power that shines within me.
  • As an adult I can’t be a child. I am independent and no longer rely on the “goodies” that my mother helps me out with. I am responsible for my own life and well being. I don’t expect her to rescue me.
  •  I see my mother as a person and human being first. She is no longer a hero or a villain in my story. I’ve let go of old conditioned reactions. I ask myself “How would I respond if a good friend offered this advice?”
  •  I tell her when she oversteps my boundaries or I feel hurt by her words or actions. I tell her how I feel. Despite the “eek!” and icky feeling I will speak with courage from my heart.
  •  I want to be honest with myself at all times, although denial and distraction may feel much more comfortable! I am open to others who help me see what is hidden.
  •  When I am triggered I recognize that its all about me! It’s my lesson. I let go of a need to defend or blame, and bring my attention to me rather than the “bad other”. I stay present with my feelings and allow myself to feel. I feel it in my body and let the energy release. I ask myself “What do I need here? What am I fearful of?”
  •  I’ve befriended my own internal judge and don’t judge her. I am tender with myself. I can have fun with Ms “Evolved Who Knows Everything”, Ms “Controlaholic” and Ms “I May Not Be Good Enough.”
  •  I choose not to be judgmental and I no longer use guilt on myself or others. I wear loving giraffe ears not the critical jackal’s.
  •  Whenever I feel uncomfortable, fearful or vulnerable I take a deep breath and come into my body. I remind myself that my mind holds the fear, my body holds the truth. I ask “Where am I out of integrity? How am I not being true to my adult Self?”
  •  As soon as I am aware that my mind is spiraling with negative thoughts or is stuck in over analyzing, I turn to my breath, body and yoga to find my way home. To clarity and the heart. And to lighten up!
  • I trust in the unknown and all that I can learn and grow when I let go and embrace the adventure.
  •  I am authentic me…. And I try to not take myself too seriously 😉

This is the story that I am creating for myself.

What story do you want to create for yourself on your journey?


Of course, no one gets to where they want to be alone! None of this would be possible without the following people:

Many thanks to all the people who have written about mothers and daughters and shared their stories.

Thanks to members of this community for supporting the cause!

I’d like to give special thanks to my mentors Jay Perry and Dr Susan Campbell; authors Marshall B Rosenburg, John Welwood and Brene Brown; my yoga teachers Nicole and Joe at East Eagle: and my loving friends, colleagues, yoga students and coaching clients.

Of course, none of this would ever have been possible with my mum. Thank you from my heart.




Quiz – How Much Love Are You Giving Yourself Today?

giving heartOn a day when love is in the air, in our hearts … or trying to find its way, it makes me think of about how much love we give to ourselves. This is a re-post from the Mother Whisperer archives. May love find its way for you. xoxo

Some of you may have missed the link to the quiz in the Mother Whisperers post Letting Go of Self Criticism and Discovering Self Compassion.

Find out how you rank in the 3 areas of self compassion that Dr Kristin Neff is researching:

(a) self-kindness

(b) a sense of common humanity

(c) mindfulness

Click here to test how self compassionate you are in these areas. You may be surprised – I was!

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The Bottom Line in Mother Daughter Relationships

Sticky note to remember the bottom lineI love the humor and hope in this article! There is a bottom line in all mother daughter relationships, and sometimes a few simple changes can turn around a skewed and ailing relationship.

“A great many mother daughter relationships feel about as healthy as a swig of beer coupled with a joint after downing some cough syrup with codeine. They are terribly strained for years, and end up resolving themselves to a chronic stand off usually during the daughter’s thirties or forties, where the relationship can remain steadfast and indignant for the rest of either one’s natural life. How depressing.

The much less depressing news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. In some cases, it takes a lot of effort, but not always. Sometimes just a few simple changes can completely turn around a skewed and ailing relationship between the women of the family.

open your heartThe bottom line ends up being pretty simple. Most mothers truly love their daughters. And most daughters truly love their mothers. It’s just that between all that love there is a great big heaping helping of demolish me stew and a side order of not quite good enough carrots” …. read more here

The bottom line is simple, but recognizing it and getting in touch with the loving bond between daughter and mother often takes courage.

What other kinds of dishes get in our way along with “demolish me” stew and a side order of “not quite good” enough carrots?!?

“Withdrawal” soup? … “Denial” salad … “Critical” coleslaw … “Never over or easy” eggs… “Its your fault” lasagne?


Val’s Comment: At the end of a cold spell don’t we all yearn for a heart warming dessert such as “Peaceful” pudding … “Soothing” souffle or simply enjoying a hot chocolate together. It can happen if you are ready to throw out the old meals/beliefs and take responsibility for your part in the relationship. I am here to help.



What is the the Greatest “Relationship Changing” Skill You Can Learn and Apply?

This is a popular re-post and useful perspective for dealing with difficult situations and people. Val xoxo

questioning womanQ. What is the greatest “relationship changing” skill you can learn and apply?

A. Understanding “The Three Realities”

This is one of the first skills I learned when I was training to become a coach. Over the years I have shared it with hundreds of clients to help them get ahead in their careers, build better relationships at work with colleagues and their boss, and reconcile differences in personal and family relationships. It’s a tool that can help us break through when we are struggling with something or someone!

It’s also been one of the hardest things for me to apply in my own relationships – especially with my own mother! Where emotions run high and feelings run deep, it’s a challenge to let go of the first reality – my own!

When it comes to relationships, how we feel is the most important thing to us. Putting it in simple terms: When we feel valued and appreciated, the relationship feels good and we think it’s working. When we feel hurt, criticized or victimized then the relationship feels bad and we think it isn’t working.

However, how we think and feel is only one aspect of what is really going on in any situation or relationship! To read more about the Three Realities in our Resources page – Click here


Tips for Dealing With Mother’s Guilt Trips

pointing fingerIt isn’t easy to step back and be mindful when you feel criticized, triggered and guilty, especially when it comes from your mother. Understanding what is going on inside of her and what’s behind the guilt trip can help daughters shift gears and regain their thoughtful adult self!

According to Denise McGregor in her book Mama Drama, there are 4 key motivators behind mother’s guilt and criticism. These motivators come down to the unmet needs of the judging person.

Here are some tips to handle each situation:

1. Competition. She doesn’t feel good about herself compared with how she perceives you. She wants to pull you down a peg or two so she feels better about herself. Daughters of narcissist mothers can certainly relate to this. Daughters of mothers who feel they have missed out on a good life, can also relate. In this case she wants you to feel as badly as she does.

The need behind her judging is to feel better about herself, to feel reassured that she is “enough”. Tell her it isn’t a competition and that she is fine just the way she is.

2. Over Protective. She wants you to be safe and perhaps not have the painful experiences she has had or has been avoiding in her life. She is afraid that you will get into trouble, hurt yourself or not fit in. She is still treating you like a child.

Tell her its time to cut the apron strings while reassuring her that you love her … and that you are in charge of your life.

3. Unmet emotional needs. Her own needs are not being met in her relationships and/or life. She may feel insecure, unappreciated, lonely, or no longer useful.

Stick with the facts. For example you have an other engagement and can’t stay for dinner. You have your own life and yes, you love her too. Encourage her to have her own life too. You can be a role model for her as well as a support.

4. Control. She feels out of control, feeling fearful or anxious about her self. Using guilt makes makes her feel more in control.

Dealing with someone who needs to feel in control can be tough. Rather than reacting to being controlled, step back, switch gears to think about what she really needs. She doesn’t need to control you in order to feel assured that you are safe. Reassure her by telling her that you feel good about your life and whats happening. Stick with the facts and tell her you love her. If needs be, set boundaries so she knows not to step over the same line next time.


Val’s comment: It really comes down to being with our feelings as they come up rather than reacting to them with anger or trying to escape them. This takes practice! If you want to talk about what’s going on in your mother relationship and how to break free of guilt, then please reach out and lets talk. You are not alone and I am here to help.



The 3 Steps to Break Free of Guilt in the New Year

break freeAs I’m writing about guilt I realize that this is the time when we set resolutions for the New Year. Are you yearning to break free of the mother daughter guilt trap in 2012? For many of you it may seem impossible, but I know that it is possible and comes down to these three crucial steps. Read on to learn more.

When we start to feel tied up in knots and struggling with mother daughter guilt,  its important to become aware of what is happening. How we are feeling is a conditioned response to feeling judged.  Its like an old button that gets triggered time and time again!

Instead of allowing ourselves to react like children afraid of how she feels, how we have let her down, how disappointed she is, how she’ll never appreciate us, how we don’t want to hurt her … we must step into our adult shoes and shift gears.

As an adult you can break this cycle of guilt with understanding, setting boundaries and dealing with your own internal judge.

1.Understand about judgment and unmet needs

Judgment and unmet needs go hand in hand. The first step is to understand the need that isn’t being met behind judgement and guilt. Rather than reacting, take a deep breath, step back and consider what the missing need is behind her behavior. To find out more about our mothers needs and criticisms click here.

2. Set boundaries

Deal with the icky feeling and address the situation there and then. Breathe into the discomfort, rather than avoid feeling it. Stick with the facts and come from a respectful and loving place. Don’t get sucked into the drama or retaliate at the same level …. unless you want this drama to continue forever! To find out more about setting boundaries click here.

3. Stop judging yourself

Recognize what is going on within yourself. If someone judges you and you feel guilty, then they have triggered your own judging self. It isn’t really about them, it’s all about you!

Become conscious of your judgments of yourself, so you have the means to stop judging yourself. Once you stop making yourself wrong and accepting yourself,  it will be easier to deal with other people’s judgments of you.

When we let go of judging ourselves and are happy with just the way we are, we no longer feel guilt when someone else tries to use it on us. The more accepting of ourselves and the more authentic we are, the less guilty we will feel.

Remember that you only feel guilt when you judge yourself. If you have done something you truly regret, apologize and stop doing it, otherwise dispense with guilt. Do not let guilt rule your life.

Letting Go of Self Judgment

This can be a tough journey for many of us. I know that I judged myself for years for being so judgmental!

When you notice that you are judging yourself as “bad” for being a judger, its your ego kicking in to keep you from changing. Your ego will fight it and tell you “You’re selfish. You’re crazy!”

The bottom line is that when you judge yourself you hurt yourself. The feelings of doubt, unworthiness and being “bad” will stay with you until they are replaced with feeling good about yourself.

Look beyond the judgment to your own unmet needs.

Ask yourself “What do I need that I am not getting? What is missing for me?” Bring awareness to your own needs and start working on them to get them met. Honor the needs that you have, rather than feel bad that you have them. We all have them! Its not something to feel ashamed about. We all need to feel loved, to belong, to feel worthy, and to be respected and validated.

Val’s Comment: If you’d like to explore more about what your needs might be and how you can start getting them met once and for all, then please reach out and connect. You are not alone and I am here to help.

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  • COMMUNICATION QUIZ - Can You Make These Statements?

    Ask yourself if you make any of the following 15 statements. Find out if you are expressing yourself fully and are communicating with openness and presence.
    • SCORING The highest possible score is 30, and the lowest is zero. The higher the score, the higher your likelihood of having success in all your relationships. 0-9: You probably find yourself frustrated in relationships (especially with your mother) more often than you would like. 10-15: You have a high aptitude for relating and are open to learning 16-24: You have good relationship skills. How can you apply them more to your mother relationship? 25-30: Congratulations! Your capacity for present-centered relating is at a very high level.
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