Join us for a final discussion on Debra Berndt Maldonado’s new book, Like a Spark From Fire: Break Free from the Past, Find Your Brilliance and Become Your True Self. She shares how daughters are highly influenced by their mothers. Even if the daughter rejects the mother, she still has to deal with her shadow.
In this episode we explore:
- How the mother influences a daughter’s role in life;
- The shadow of the mother and the impact it has on a woman reaching her full potential;
- How to create a better relationship with your mother and drop projections.
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Debra Maldonado 00:01
Hello, welcome back to another episode of Soul Sessions with CreativeMind.
Robert Maldonado 00:07
We’re continuing our series on Like a Spark from Fire, Deborah’s new book. This time we’re talking about how the mother influences the daughters personality, development, life, and how it plays into relationships.
Debra Maldonado 00:25
And how do we escape your mother’s shadow.
Robert Maldonado 00:29
If that’s possible.
Debra Maldonado 00:30
Let’s start with just what the shadow is. A shadow is something that’s unconscious, it’s a part of our personality that we repress or reject. It basically remains hidden to us. We can even act out the shadow but not realize we’re doing that. That’s why it’s like a blinder to us. What we do is end up projecting it out in the world. Those irritating people, people we admire, and people we distain are reflective of aspects of that shadow, this self that we don’t identify with. If you think about your conscious self, you have an identity, you have a relationship, a self concept. Anything that doesn’t fit into that self concept that would be socially acceptable, would go in the shadow.
Robert Maldonado 01:17
I do want to say a word about the mother though because we’re not being critical of mothers and mothering. If we sound that way, it’s not our intention. We’re simply shedding light on Jung’s idea of the importance of the relationship with the mother, especially early on, how it imprints on the individual’s life history.
Debra Maldonado 01:45
Let’s start with why is the mother such a critical role. Because I’ve worked with women over the years with love and relationships, and a lot of their issues really were with their father. Some with the mother but it was—
Robert Maldonado 02:02
Really? I found the opposite.
Debra Maldonado 02:05
Maybe because of my interest, my consciousness. When you’re a coach, you see people like you that have the same narrative, the same story that fits, although I do have attracted a lot of clients that had issues with their mother. They liked me because I was kind and their mother was critical of them, so it was a nice thing. Even men who had a critical mother or cold mother, having that coach-client relationship helped them cultivate a more nurturing idea of what a mother could be. For me personally, I always thought my issues were with my father and not with my mother, I never paid attention to the impact my mother had on my life. But as we go along, Rob and I’ve been doing this for 15 years. And separately longer than that. We kept thinking, the mother is really arising in this powerful way.
Robert Maldonado 03:07
In theory, it goes back to Freud. Freud was one of the first ones to talk about the deeper psychology of family. Family systems came up. But Jung was interested in the relationship of this archetypal element with a mother. He saw that pretty much the child projects the mother archetype onto the personal mother. The mother is expected to be this god like or goddess like creature because of that projection.
Debra Maldonado 03:49
If you think about it, the mother’s responsibility is to make sure child is safe, especially in those early ages. Maya Angelou famously said “Being a mother is like having your heart walk outside your body the rest of your life.” There’s this responsibility, the mother art, not only the child projects, but the mother feels that she has to live up to.
Robert Maldonado 04:14
The primary relationship. That’s Freud’s idea, that the primary relationship we have in life is with a mother, because it’s the first template you get regarding what is a relationship and what can I expect about relationships? Obviously, we’re raised by flawed human beings just like us. Your mother was not a divine creature. She was flawed like all of us.
Debra Maldonado 04:46
On a deep level, she was a spark from fire. But her personality was the human personality.
Robert Maldonado 04:55
At the psychological level, she had character flaws, like all of us. That imprint of the primary relationship with a mother you got early on, gave you that subtle understanding of what you can expect in relationships for the rest of your life. Unless you do shadow work. That’s why we place such importance on Shadow Work. If you don’t reveal the shadow, if you don’t understand what is in the unconscious mind regarding that primary relationship, that’s what plays up for you the rest of your life, not only in relationships, but in work settings, in your self image, in the way you see the world in general.
Debra Maldonado 05:51
Matter is “mata”, which translates into mother.
Robert Maldonado 06:00
The primal matter is the creation of the world the way we experience it. A little bit of Jungian alchemical theory there.
Debra Maldonado 06:13
There’s a movie out that’s up for an award, it’s called The Lost Daughter. If you haven’t seen it yet, it really depicts the shadow of the mother, what choices this mother made. For many people it’s a little disturbing because it takes it to the extreme of that projection of the “mother needs to be a certain way.” It’s so terrible, it will stir you up. But I want to challenge you, if you watch it, to look at what is it you’re surmising from it, from your own mother relationship? How can it open up a deeper self inquiry into what patterns have you created in your life to push away these dark, out of the norm of social convention this mother established herself. A really powerful movie. The things that the mother had to reject, in order to be the mother for you or to survive in whatever situation she was in, whether she was with an abusive husband, maybe she had to be quiet and submissive in order to make sure you kids were safe. But as a child, you see her as weak. There’s all these deeper stories than what you surmise as a child. You make these judgments and decide “I like this persona, this is power, this is weakness.” You sort personality traits out that way. Then it molds you into this personality you think is naturally you but it’s really constructed by your early life experience. The you that you think you are isn’t really you.
Robert Maldonado 08:09
For the daughter, where the mother is the same sex parent, she either identifies with mother’s persona, or rejects mother’s persona. But the mother, of course, has a persona and a shadow. The persona is the part that she shows to society, how she presents herself to others, the shadow are those elements that were rejected and pushed into the unconscious, but they’re there. As children, we’re really good at picking up what is going on in the shadow as well. Intuitively, instinctually, we don’t reason it out. But for the daughter identifying with a mother’s persona, she takes those elements of how she sees the mother act in social settings and says “I’m going to be like that.” In other words, she’s creating a persona that’s very similar to her mother. At the same time, of course, she’s acquiring the mother shadow.
Debra Maldonado 09:22
Unconsciously, accepting the mother shadow. Living out the same patterns the mother presents, the obstacles or the struggles she has with that persona, the daughter tends to play out those same struggles, same limitations.
Robert Maldonado 09:42
On the other hand, and this often happens, especially since the generational patterns were broken severely in recent years, where the daughter rejects the mother’s persona, the housewife or the stay at home mom, or the subservient wife who bows or puts her dreams aside in order to fulfill the role of the wife and mother. When a woman rejects that role, the persona of the mother goes into her shadow. It remains in the shadow until she does shadow work, or if she does shadow work.
Debra Maldonado 10:40
I see this in a lot of people that have kids I’ve worked with. There’s this mother guilt, this bad mom in the shadow, this concept of a bad mom. If you think about these self concepts, they’re very subjective. Because in a certain culture, the mother is expected to do a lot more, in a western culture it might be different. Different religions, the role of a woman and the role of mother is interpreted differently. We adopt unconsciously what we think is right and wrong through our culture, our family, and how things are, we don’t even question it. We think bad mother means whatever we’ve been conditioned to believe versus that there really is this concept of a bad mother or a good mother. You’re worked with children for many years, and families. A mother who would seem to be a good mother, who’s always there for the child, who never lets the child fail, who’s always bolstering up the child “You’re terrific, you’re wonderful.” You may think that’s a good mother. But there’s always a negative side to that too, or limiting side. Because then that child doesn’t have any self criticism or learn to ask themselves those questions. They think “I’m great.” There could be some limiting aspects from that as well, to always hear you’re so great. Then you go out into the world on the playground, someone makes fun of you, you don’t know how to cope with that. You’re just like “Mom says I’m great. This is something strange.” That could also affect the child. There’s no idea of this perfect parent.
Robert Maldonado 12:33
Those have to do more with parenting styles, different parenting styles have been identified. But in the shadow work, it’s more the emotional imprint. For example, if a baby cries, and mother is very nurturing, always attentive to your cries, the impression is that the world is going to take care of you, whatever you need and desire, or you’re uncomfortable, there’s going to be help for you, the world is going to provide for you in a sense. That is imprinted emotionally into every cell of your body.
Debra Maldonado 13:23
At the crux of it is, is the world going to be there for me or not? Let me ask you this as a retired child psychologist, what if the child is not attended to, the only time the child gets attention is if she throws a tantrum, or there is a lot of drama, or starts a fight? Maybe that’s her way because it’s harder to get attention. She’d repeat that pattern as an adult, this is the way I get people to pay attention to me.
Robert Maldonado 13:54
That’s a good question. Development is a moving target. What is true in the first few years of life is not true later on. So it would depend on what part of development you are talking about. Early development from before the kid goes off to school or later on. A lot of it has to do with those early years. We know developmental psychology keeps pushing it back, saying that the earliest years are the most important.
Debra Maldonado 14:38
When you say earlier, what do you mean?
Robert Maldonado 14:41
From zero to six, very important years. Ironically, that’s when parents think the kid is too small to understand. There’s too little to comprehend what’s going on the family.
Debra Maldonado 15:01
If you’re fighting with the spouse, and are like “The baby doesn’t know, she’s in the other room, or he’s in the other room, they don’t know what’s going on.”
Robert Maldonado 15:09
That’s not what’s happening. The kid is like a sponge, absorbing everything that’s going on in the family, especially the emotional life of the family. That imprint is a big part of what is in the shadow, what is in the personal unconscious, as we coach people through that process.
Debra Maldonado 15:32
I find that people, men and women, who haven’t received that nurturing from the mother, like when they cry, and you can agree or disagree here, counter what I’m saying, my experience is that they tend to suppress their emotion because that desire to be loved and want that attention, since it wasn’t attended to, they learned to suppress that need. They go in the shadow, that craving for connection and intimacy would basically go in the shadow because they never got it. They have to find a way to survive and not need it, because needing it was is too painful.
Robert Maldonado 16:11
Here you get into different schools. Behaviorism would definitely say, observing behavior, what does the parent do when the child cries, explains the outcome, basically the conditioning, but you have to remember, each individual has a built in resilience level and built in traits and predispositions genetically programmed already. You could treat two children identically the same, attend to their cries or not attend to their cries. And you’ll have two different outcomes.
Debra Maldonado 16:55
So what you’re really saying is, stop blaming your mother. I’ve worked with so many people over the years, sometimes you’re the youngest of ten or eight kids, and the mother can’t give the attention you need. There’s other circumstances happening. The child is perceiving the experience in their own way. One child has more self sufficiency to find their own nurturing and ability to have resilience. Another child genetically might not have it as clear, they would have a different experience of that mother, or that childhood. We look at the childhood and make some generalizations. But each individual doesn’t fit into a checkpoint. If your mother did this, then you have this trauma attached, like they tend to do with the labels. Everyone who’s been abandoned by their mother has this trait, or everyone who’s been super nurtured by their mother is having this trait. What you’re saying is that it’s so subjective.
Robert Maldonado 18:09
Very subjective, very individualized. The individual and whatever their experience and interpretation of that experience, is what they carry on into life.
Debra Maldonado 18:20
It’s really the interpretation. That interpretation comes from how they’ve learned, genetic disposition. Isn’t there something where people have a higher state of hopefulness, or looking at things from a possibility versus a negative way. We have all these gradations of how we perceive the world and the stories we make up not even from the event itself. But what we’ve been adopted and inherited. If you look at families, there’s people in the family who grew up in the same household, and some are really positive, like “Where did this person come from? She’s so positive.” Then another sibling could be just like “poor me” and a victim.
Robert Maldonado 19:09
That interpretation, we can say, is the persona. It’s the way you take that information of what was going on in your early family history and turn it into “This is the way I’m going to be, these are the things I identify as, and the way I see myself, presenting myself to the world”, that becomes your persona. Jung says that’s not a problem. It’s a good thing. You have to build a good viable persona that helps you function in the world. That’s what your book is about. You’re talking about these personas that people or women adopt as their primary roles in life. The shadow is simply the things you pushed away. That’s what gets people. That’s what Jung says. Until you make the unconscious conscious, it’s going to direct your life. Your persona is not actually going to direct your life, what’s going to direct your life is your shadow, the things that you pushed into the unconscious mind.
Debra Maldonado 20:20
A very common experience for me was that I thought my mother was wonderful and loving, and I still do, she’s amazing. I just adored her. But the part of me that saw her as the submissive housewife, I saw that as very limiting. One of my sisters thought it was the role, she became my mother in all those ways. My other sister became more extreme, I’m kind of in the middle. How we misperceived that role. I wanted consciously to be like her, I wanted to have kids, I wanted to get married. I kept working, kept going for men that were unavailable. I was doing that because in the shadow was this fear of being controlled, this fear of a man running my life, that I didn’t examine. Unconsciously, I was playing out my shadow in a way that I wasn’t being the mother, I put my mother in my shadow, even though consciously I thought I’m just like her. I pursued career and I did all these things that on a conscious level I was like “This is not what I plan or intend, but it’s just what I am.” If you fall into the pattern, you feel like life circumstances are driving this, there’s not enough men in the town or maybe it’s my father’s fault. But inevitably, when I realized I was the one who was choosing to be single because I really was terrified of being that submissive wife, everything started to change, everything changed after that, but we think we’re making these conscious decisions. And we think we’re not being the shadow. We end up acting out the shadow, we don’t even realize it, because it’s so unconscious.
Robert Maldonado 22:01
By the same token, when you do make the unconscious conscious, in other words, when you do shadow work, when you integrate the shadow, as Jung would say, then you have freewill, that’s real for you because then you can make decisions not based on your early imprints in the family womb, like you’re in this bubble of the family, you’re free to really choose who you want to be beyond the persona, beyond that role that you created to keep you safe and secure. You have real conscious choices then.
Debra Maldonado 22:46
The ego actually creates the persona shadow dynamic from this limited, survival mind. Even if on a conscious level we think, like I said, I wanted love and it sounded great, but the conflict in me was “I don’t want this either.” That inner conflict is the persona shadow conflict. We all have them. That’s why if we really don’t have a choice when we meet someone, how much money we make, what kind of body we have health wise, even our sense of self from a spiritual level. If we don’t understand that persona shadow dynamic and make it conscious, basically we think it’s fate. Like Jung says, we think it’s fate. I thought it was fate that I was meant to be single. When I realized it wasn’t that, I needed to now say “I’m going to play the role of the submissive wife, or I’m going to be the independent woman”, I actually said “I don’t need to choose either of those things.” Because that’s what the ego as a child thought are my two choices. It’s like door number three, the third option, which is you choose freely, you’re not choosing not to be like your mother, or you’re not choosing to be like your mother at a conditioning, you’re choosing something fresh and different. That’s really what we need in the world. We don’t need carbon copies of each other and just repeating patterns. We need people to wake up and really choose their life. And that’s where we feel fulfilled.
Robert Maldonado 24:14
It is a metamorphosis. You can think of the caterpillar. Our early life is like being that caterpillar, just surviving and storing up food for later. But then comes a period that Jung called the individuation process where you are meant to transform yourself to really be free and acquire your wings or whatever metaphor you want to use, and fly. That is the individuation process. Jung says, without the emotions, there is no transformation. A lot of people think if I know my patterns, if I can see my patterns from my family history, a lot of people get that insight from therapy, or from reading books, from self help—
Debra Maldonado 25:07
Worksheets, that self inquiry, sometimes your mind will find a way to connect everything. It makes it really rational, now I know why I’m this way.
Robert Maldonado 25:18
But that’s not enough. Insight is not enough, it will not enact the transformation because it’s all in your head, it’s all cerebral, you have to face that initial imprint. Remember that initial imprint was an emotional intuitive understanding or an interpretation of who you are and what’s possible for you in the world, that imprint was imprinted in your unconscious mind.
Debra Maldonado 25:51
I think that the ego will make a story up, Jung said that before you get into the shadow, there’s this peripheral perception that it feels like it’s unconscious, it’s just beneath the consciousness, kind of on the side. The ego will use that narrative to make everything make sense. When I was doing first self help, the narrative was “You don’t have a man because your father doesn’t show love to you.” That was the surface information. If I just built my confidence and I said “I’m lovable”, man would love me, that would be great. It makes a lot of sense. The ego will make sense to you, you’re not getting to the emotion. My mother told me a story, my mother’s reading my book and she loves it. She told me a story I never heard before and I wanted to share it, because for men too, they’re very influenced by the mother. Through my whole life, my father didn’t really show emotion or affection. My mother told me the story, now it makes too much sense. As a child, you think they don’t love you, there’s something wrong with you, you make this narrative up. I was trying to fix that story that I am good enough. I don’t care if my father doesn’t love me, I’m strong and powerful. But what she told me was that her and my father went to this personal development for Catholics, it’s called close encounters. She was talking about her emotions. My father got in touch with his emotions, he couldn’t wait to get home and hug the kids, then he went to his mother, who’s a Danish woman, very reserved. He went up to her to hug her. She said “What are you doing? Do you have a cold? A handshake will do, you don’t have to hug me.” That tells me everything about my father’s conditioning. No wonder he didn’t even have the capacity because his mother never gave him love. His shadow was full of emotion, full of passion. Ten years ago, we talked about our feelings, everything started to change. Instead of me saying “I need to be good enough”, it was more like I needed to connect intimately with a man. I needed to learn to be not afraid of sharing, getting into that emotional place with someone and sharing that. That’s where it opened me up for love. Initially that ego narrative is going to fit a story that makes so much sense. You feel like “I got it, I see the pattern”, but nothing’s changing. That means you’re not really getting into the shadow, which is that deeper— I can’t even explain it in words, the shift that happened within me.
Robert Maldonado 28:44
The theory is that it’s unconscious. By definition, you cannot see it, you can’t look inside your mind as we can with our thoughts, we can hear and see our thoughts. The unconscious thinking or perceiving an emotional imprint is imperceptible to us. We cannot observe it, we cannot see it. But it’s there. The question is, how can we access the unconscious mind? That’s where Jungian theory comes in. He developed specific techniques to access the unconscious mind.
Debra Maldonado 29:26
You can’t look at it directly. If you look at your relationship with your mother when you were young, because it could change as an adult, how do you perceive yourself in that relationship, how the mother treated you? Was it good or bad? Is it welcoming? It’s how the world treats you. If you feel like your mother wasn’t loving, wasn’t there for you, was dangerous, was critical, you’re going to project that into the world. You’re going to feel like everyone’s criticizing you, you’re going to feel like it’s unsafe, you’re going to feel like people leave relationships all the time. You’re going to perceive this projection of your relationship with your mother onto the world, then the world isn’t really in your control. You’re still trying to win the love of the mother through the world.
Robert Maldonado 30:21
You will see overcompensating, trying to be very successful or very charming as a way to compensate or to please people.
Debra Maldonado 30:37
I always say pleasing is a defense. It sounds like a nice thing to be pleasing but the reason most of us please is to avoid the other person being mad at us, or avoid someone being disappointed in us. A lot of young women would please if they had a critical mother, please their way through their early life because that’s what helped them survive. Don’t upset the mother, walk on eggshells, “Mom, I’m gonna do the extra chores for you.” It becomes a part of us, we think that’s who we are, but we forget we were reacting to something early on, then we think that’s who we are. Or we could be the opposite, the daughter that rebels and does the goth, or paints her hair a different color. A nonconformist that rejects the mother. That’s her go to survival kit to go out in the world. Then she’ll go out in the world as an adult and needs to be that rebel all the time, needs to stir things up. It really is very interesting how your early life does really create the world that you see and perceive, when a lot of times it’s a misperception. It’s like a veil that covers the truth of things.
Robert Maldonado 31:54
It is highly individualized, it’s a personal subjective interpretation that the individual is making about what happened in early life. But in general, what I’ve seen is this pattern of anger, because anger has to be suppressed continuously in the family, and resentment towards the mother or anything like that definitely has to do—
Debra Maldonado 32:20
It’s like taboo to resent your mother, you’re supposed to love your mother.
Robert Maldonado 32:23
Not only you’re supposed to, but biologically, the mother is the one that cares for you and feeds you. If you have any resentment against her, you cannot express it, because that might mean she rejects you. That would equal death, so instinctively, you try to be very subservient to the mother and pleasing.
Debra Maldonado 32:51
The pleasers have such a huge anger built up, and I think for women — I hate the male-female, but as women, we’re really conditioned to be nice, and play with a doll, we have the tea cups. The boys are out there, playing war and tackling. There’s a lot of different kind of energy moving.
Robert Maldonado 33:15
We got our own problems. But this talk is specifically about the daughter.
Debra Maldonado 33:21
I was thinking why women have so much anger. For the society, an angry woman is very terrible. She’s lost her mind, she can’t manage her emotions, we can’t be angry.
Robert Maldonado 33:35
But it creates this problem, this internal conflict, because then relationships is where that anger is going to play out in some form, either as projection, you’re making me angry — the guy or the person that the woman loves is making me angry, or it turns into self anger, which is depression.
Debra Maldonado 34:06
Beating yourself up so much you can’t function anymore. You’re afraid to make a step out in the world because it feels so unsafe for me. I think a lot of people get so hard when they make a mistake, they get angry at themselves and don’t realize how much anger they keep taking on toward themselves. We all think that we’re mad at the world, but we never examine why we’re so angry with ourselves, that criticism, that negative thinking, that light sense of anger, but beneath that there’s a lot of rage that we want to get in touch with. Because there’s power in it. Every time you say “yes” to someone when you mean “no”, it’s like a pocket of power you just stuffed. Imagine your whole life just stuffing that power. Then it’s boiling underneath. And the persona is like “No, we can’t show our anger.” Everyone smiles, then all of a sudden it’s going to have to be dealt with. It’s going to show up, other people being angry, disappointed in you, causing problems. You think why there’s so many angry people out there. They’re in your consciousness because they’re a part of you in some way. We have to retrieve that projection.
Robert Maldonado 35:31
The pop psychology that’s out there doesn’t help because they split everything into good and bad. They say there are these negative emotions, like anger and shame and guilt. No emotion is negative or positive. It’s just an emotion, meaning it’s a biological response to the environment. It’s there to tell us what is happening, what is the meaning of things that are happening. But when they split it up into good and bad emotions, now you’re trying to get rid of this anger, or this shame, or this guilt. That’s not what it’s about. But Jung says you have to integrate that. That’s your power right there. If you try to get rid of it, all you’re doing is driving it deeper into the unconscious and saying “I’m not angry, I’m gonna pound a pillow, I’m spiritual.” There’s no power in that. You end up projecting it again, they are the powerful ones. The government, the people, the men, the society, somebody out there. That’s projection essentially, you see the power, but you see it outside of yourself.
Debra Maldonado 36:49
Anger is a suppression of power. Passion is the expression of power. Anger and passion are actually exactly the same feeling, except one is stuffed and one is expressed. Anger passion expressed is a mad as hell, “I’m not gonna take it anymore.” That force that says “I want to live, I’m tired of mediocre life. I’m tired of pleasing everyone.” You just you have to get angry first, in order to tap into that anger, that power. If you say “I refuse to be angry”, all that power is like this gold mine sitting in your psyche that you’re not using, because you think it’s bad. But you can transmute it and express it in a different way. The ego has this funny thing about labeling things. It has a preconceived label that we give, it makes it either negative or positive. But ultimately, the ego’s deciding what’s negative or positive. There’s no general thing. With that said, I have a question for you. I know we’ll get this question. What about the mothers that are really bad, that hurt the children, put them in dangerous situations, leave them on the street corner? Drug addict mothers? How would someone who has approached that idea of neutrality, of not negative or positive?
Robert Maldonado 38:17
That’s a whole different level of understanding what imprints the child gets from that experience. Because you’re saying the mother role was not there for the child, there was no adequate mothering for the child. That sets up the individual for a whole different experience, because then their sense of self becomes warped in a sense, it becomes very different than the person that has a mother role to identify with or to reject. There you get into personality disorders.
Debra Maldonado 39:08
They don’t have a strong ego?
Robert Maldonado 39:11
We can think of the personality disorder as disruption of the self image. The self image never gets really evolved. In Jungian terms, the person never is able to develop a viable persona for themselves.
Debra Maldonado 39:29
That’s the key. The stronger the persona shadow is, the easier it is for someone to individuate, but when someone doesn’t even have a strong persona because they never had the mother, especially if they’re a woman, the mother is a template for her to use.
Robert Maldonado 39:48
The primary effort there would go towards helping the person develop a persona first of all, because they haven’t done that.
Debra Maldonado 39:58
It doesn’t mean they’re broken for the rest of their life or broken at all.
Robert Maldonado 40:05
No, the work would be different, it wouldn’t necessarily be individuation, it would be persona development. That would be the primary effort, they would benefit more from that.
Debra Maldonado 40:16
Then they can individuate. A lot of times when I hear these stories about terrible mothers, I’ve heard many thousands of stories, I always asked the client to find a person that was a mother figure to them. Who was there for you? My grandmother, or the person that was my babysitter was very loving to me, or the neighbor, or my aunt, there’s always some mother figure. I feel like we all have it, someone’s always there to take care of us in some way, or we wouldn’t have survived. Let’s look at that. That relationship becomes the template, but then the child has a split idea because it’s not really the real mother, but it’s a surrogate.
Robert Maldonado 41:03
Again, it would depend on the individual. Because all those principles apply that we spoke of in the beginning. It’s an individual interpretation. I’ve seen people that go through hell and come out okay because their interpretation is “I’m strong, I’m going to make it anyway I can, I’ll just figure out this mother thing as I go along.” They do fine. But people that are given sometimes the interpretation by professionals that they received bad mothering, that becomes their narrative story, they internalize that, “This is who I am, I’m somebody who did not receive proper care, proper mothering.” That becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
Debra Maldonado 41:55
They wear it as a badge. I felt like I couldn’t undo my relationship with my father, that’s just my lot. Basically, it’s part of my brokenness. We want to say that you’re not broken, because maybe you didn’t have the ideal relationship or mother, that your pure potential is just recognizing the limitation because of that experience, then being able to transcend it because we all can transcend that. You’re the spark from fire, which is the identical to the Divine, which has never been broken, has never been damaged, can’t be cut, can’t just be destroyed. That essence of you, your soul, perfection, is not even touched with all the experience. That’s really the big picture. Another experience of the mother, which I read about Jung, there’s a book by Claire Dunn called The Wounded Healer, about Carl Jung’s life. She talks about Carl Jung’s mother who really wasn’t there for him. I don’t know if she was working or something.
Robert Maldonado 42:59
I think she meant more emotionally.
Debra Maldonado 43:01
His nanny was very loving to him. He had basically two mothers. When he got older, this woman said, this is probably why he had the affairs because he never thought one woman could hold everything for him in his life. Unexamined, a man seeing a split mother is gonna need more than one woman because that’s what was conditioned in him to feel safe in the world. I just thought that was fascinating. How many of us, even our clients, and those of you who are coaches and therapists, have come from mixed families where you have a stepfather and stepmother, or multiple people coming in and out of your life, and how that influences that formation. But you’re saying that you’re really still working with that initial imprint from the mother under six?
Robert Maldonado 44:00
A good way to think about is through that narrative we create ourselves, and then the narrative that is given to us by our culture and society and other important figures in our lives. If we go to a psychologist or therapist or a priest, and they tell us “You’re broken, you’re damaged”, that becomes the way we experience ourselves in the world. Ideas, words, narrative are very powerful in our minds, because that’s the way we make meaning of life. There is no other way for human beings to make meaning out of life, except through that narrative. Whatever your narrative is, you create that meaning for yourself.
Debra Maldonado 44:55
Your mother tells stories all the time. Most of our mothers will tell stories how she sees the world, or share with you, because women are more chatty usually. I remember my mother just telling me all these stories and teaching you about the world. Fathers, I’m sure, tell their stories too. That’s impacting how you see the world too, you start to see it like the family and the culture see it. It’s more than just that individual but generations of people. My mother was the loving mother, but my grandmother was the cold, distant mother. I inherited that part too. My mother’s mother was very nurturing and loving too. I’m sure my Nana, who was pushing my father away, her mother was not very warm either. It didn’t start with your mother. Where is the cause? That’s the question.
Robert Maldonado 45:58
It goes back to conditioning. Because if you think about what we were saying about the individual, how all of us go through this early period of conditioning in the family and experiencing that emotional imprint early on, that means our mothers and our grandmothers and generations before them, they all went through the same thing. The way they were acting towards us, and the way they were mothering us, was simply the way they were conditioned, they learned to be a mother. We can’t blame them. That is where a lot of people get stuck, that they have to hate their mother, they have to resent their mother. That is very damaging because you’re never able to move on, you’re holding on to a narrative of “that person hurt me, that person did something bad to me, or they didn’t fulfill my needs, my wishes.” Now think about that principle of projecting that onto the world. Everything you experience in the world becomes a reflection of that imprint you have, the world is not going to be just, it’s not going to give me what I need, it’s always going to frustrate me, it’s always going to be working against me, etc.
Debra Maldonado 47:32
We will want to iterate that your mother’s not a bad person. A lot of people that have kids, a lot of our clients that are older and have kids that are grown up, they’re like “Oh my God, what did I do to my children!” You can’t blame yourself either. You can’t blame yourself for anything you’re not conscious of. I think that’s so important because all of us, especially people that are listening, you do personal development, you want to be a good person, you want to better yourself. The more we find out about our patterns, the more we’re hard on ourselves for the mistakes we made in the past. It becomes like “I don’t want to look there anymore because it just makes me feel worse about myself.” We have to understand that when an ego is in control, you are not driving, your ego is driving this conditioning striving and you’re in the passenger seat, just watching and going “Why is this happening to me?”, feeling all the feelings but the ego is actually driving. This work is really about understanding the shadow so we can transcend the ego, not just making the persona better, because making the persona more confident, better, bolder, rejecting something to be something else is only going to build more conditioning and act out of that. You’re still not in control of your life.
Robert Maldonado 48:49
A lot of people we take through the Shadow Work tell us it has improved my relationship with my mother and my family in general. Let’s leave this talk with that idea. How does it improve, or how can people create, especially women, how can they create a better relationship with their mothers?
Debra Maldonado 49:15
For me, it’s like that song, “If you want me to be closer to you, get closer to me.” One time I was in a relationship and I was like “Why isn’t this guy getting closer to me?” Then I’m like “I’m the one who’s not getting close.” That’s really what I realized in relation to my father. I want to have deeper conversations, or I want my husband to talk deeper with me. Initiate that, you bring that up. Not forcing them but what is it in you that prevents you from having that intimacy. When I realized that it’s not the other person, it’s me that’s holding back, it’s me that’s afraid of risking rejection and risking being pushed away that is preventing that intimacy. If we can say “Look at what that other person is presenting and saying. How can I be like that? Where am I being like that?” Jung said that facing your shadow takes great moral courage because it really takes courage and a strong ego to say “I’m going to look at this, but this doesn’t define me. I want to look at these behaviors, so I can be free of them, not to judge myself.” That’s where I think our non-judgement translates into a better relationship with other people, because we’re not just being reactive with them. We’re being open and curious about who they are and why they’re being that way.
Robert Maldonado 51:04
I find there’s a couple parts people find difficult. One of them is forgiving, but it’s not really forgiving. Because it’s more in the sense of understanding, acceptance of the behaviors your parents exhibited in general, but especially we’re talking about the mother here. The behavior she exhibited, the way she parented you was the best she could do given her genetics, given her culture, her training, her learning, her circumstances, that’s the best she could do. Once you understand that and really accept it, you drop it. It’s not that you have to forgive her bad deeds, it’s more that you understand where she was coming from, that she was just a human being doing her best, just like you.
Debra Maldonado 52:01
Even if her best is like a one as opposed to a ten, you’re alive, and she gave you life. If anything else, we should have some sort of love for her. I think we all do on a deep level. But then the circumstances make us suppress that love that we had when we were born, or in her womb, there was some love experience there. You’re in this beautiful place, connected to this other human being and being cared for and nurtured. Then you come out, maybe that stopped when you were born, maybe it stopped at age one or two. But there was a time where you did have that. It’s not something you have to create. You already had that experience with that person, as a human to human.
Robert Maldonado 52:44
The other difficult part is accepting full responsibility for your life. If you notice in the narrative, someone messed me up. This is prevalent in our culture, we think our parents messed us up somehow, I’m this way because my parents messed me up. No, if you accept full responsibility, it means you’re not blaming anybody.
Debra Maldonado 53:14
Including yourself. A lot of people think self responsibility means self blame.
Robert Maldonado 53:18
You’re not blaming yourself either. You’re understanding what behavior is, what genetics is, what conditioning is, what society is, what socialization is, you’re seeing things as they truly are. You’re free, essentially, to create your life from this moment on any way you want to, but you have to accept responsibility. If you hold on to the narrative of “I was damaged, I was broken, I was hurt by somebody else”, you cannot create anything new because you’re stuck in that narrative.
Debra Maldonado 53:54
It feels challenging at first when people hear this. I know for me, I got something out of being mad at my dad and being like “He’s the bad guy”, because it takes the responsibility off me. I didn’t have a say because he wasn’t loving, it’s his fault I don’t have relationships in my life. It’s my mother’s fault that I don’t have love or abundance or whatever we’re missing in our life. When we accept responsibility, that’s really where the power comes back. I understand my conditioning. There’s a way out of conditioning. Like Buddha says, there’s suffering and then there’s a way out of suffering. The way out of suffering is not just to create a shiny new persona that feels confident in herself. It’s even deeper than that. It’s connecting to what’s the true you, the part of you that has never been damaged, never been harmed. Imagine seeing yourself as divine and then seeing other people as divine. Then you see their humanistic traits, but you don’t realize there’s more to them. What a beautiful world we would be in. If you have questions, make sure you post them below, we’d love to hear. Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast, we’re on Spotify, we’re on iTunes, look in the links below in the description and find out where those links are. If this intrigues you, and you want to be a coach, you’re saying “This stuff is interesting, I’d love to be able to share this with others”, we do have a coach training we do three times a year. There’s information below in the links to find out more about that. Of course, subscribe to our YouTube channel by pressing the button on the bottom with our little logo, it’ll help you subscribe right away.
Robert Maldonado 55:47
Thanks for watching.
Debra Maldonado 55:49
We’ll see you next week. Remember, you’re perfect and divine in every way. And so is your mother on a deep level.
Robert Maldonado 55:57
Debra Maldonado 55:59
Take care, bye bye.