In a few moments of scrolling on social media, I often find that there are so many mixed messages coming from well-intentioned hearts.
These messages are deeply reflective of our cultural conditioning and collective desire to free ourselves from suffering.
For example, the ones I saw today read, “You have to feel your feelings to heal,” and “You must transcend your emotions, not believe them and employ mind over matter techniques to program yourself to only focus on the positive.”
We have a cultural obsession with focusing on the light and the positive, which I think can actually hurt us.
Sometimes, the true shadow work involved in healing our trauma helps us find the good that lives within. But we cannot project enough “light” or “positivity” to think our way there—which is a form of denial of what’s actually going on within us, or in the world.
The heart of the world needs our love, nurturing, and attention more than anything. It needs our goodness. And goodness isn’t about being positive all the time.
This myth—that goodness equals unwavering positivity—is a deep reflection of our culture’s collective mother wound.
The “mother” in our culture is an archetypal energy that is held hostage between our projected ideals, our wounds, and the rejection of our shadow. The effect of this creates a ton of distress, making it difficult for us to process our own shadow feelings about being mothered.
This disconnection also renders us unable to relate to our emotions and our power to create, relate, and be radically, powerfully open-hearted humans.
However, a large part of the mother archetype is to hold and metabolize emotions. Our deepest beliefs are transformed through breaking open and healing the heart.
Emotions are creative energy. They are life force energy. And every emotion we have has the power to transform us, our lives, and what we experience around us.
It’s common for people to feel afraid of their emotions. To not know what to do with them. To feel afraid of what is hidden below the surface.
Our culture perpetuates this fear by propagating the idea that positive thinking can somehow fix how we feel. But this is not true.
When we deny the shadow of our personal mother wounds, we create an inner mother, and inner parent, who is not able to hold the emotional parts of our human experience.
When we are unavailable to act as healthy parents for ourselves, the mother we seek may come in the form of alcohol, drugs, and other addictions, codependency, chronic self-improvement, and a myriad of other ways we have been socialized to avoid truly tending to ourselves.
When our inner mother is wounded, we may have poor self-esteem, weak boundaries, trouble forgiving, doubt the wisdom of our emotions, or fail to understand the way our body can guide us to well-being.
A healed inner mother is what psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott called the “good enough mother”—one that has an integrated, rather than repressed, shadow side. When we can hold ourselves with a healed inner mother, we give ourselves the attention, care, and nurturance we seek.
These are the qualities of self-love—guided by a robust inner mother who can hold our inner child when we’re triggered by the ups and downs of life.
Our culture’s mother archetype is hurting. To heal her, we need to acknowledge her shadow, and by doing so we heal our own hearts and return to a sane way of relating to our emotional life.