I can remember clearly sitting down with my mother when I was teenager and sharing with her an emotional “owie” I had about my life. My mom immediately wanted to help. Like most moms, she didn’t want me to hurt. So, she jumped in and told me all the reasons I shouldn’t feel the way I did. I know she was doing her best to comfort and care for me, but I walked away with not just the original “owie” but with two hurts. I STILL felt badly about my first problem, and layered on that was another problem: my mother had made me feel stupid or wrong for having my feelings in the first place.
Many of us mothers are “guilty” of creating two “owies.” We don’t know how to listen to our daughters ( or anyone else for that matter) and let them own their truth. We try our best to talk others out of their truth. It is very disrespectful to do that.
Recently my best friend who is a very accomplished woman, told me that she sometimes thinks about swimming out to sea when things in her life become overwhelming. I was shocked to hear her talk in such a manner! To me, she has an amazing life. How could she even for one second, think of ending it? I wanted to jump in and run down the laundry list of all she has done in her life, to show her how valuable she is. However, I know that she didn’t want or need that. What she wanted was for someone to “get” her. Someone to hear her. Someone to listen closely enough to feel her pain, to reach out and let her know her emotional despair was understood. So, I listened. I held her. I let her cry. I never once told her that her feelings were invalid or wrong. I just sat and listened. She hugged me before she left and told me she felt better. No one had listened to her in a long time.
When is the last time you listened to your daughter? REALLY listened to? When was the last time you asked her who she is, or how she feels and then hold her answers with trust and respect? How often do you rush in and without knowing it, belittle her for her emotions? It is easy to do.
I hope you will begin to notice when you have stopped listening to your daughter’s truth and have started trying to change her feelings. She doesn’t need that. She just needs you to listen and love her for who she is in that very moment.
Don’t let your daughter walk away with a double “owie.” Listen to her first one, and thank her for trusting you enough to tell you who she really is. That is enough for her to begin healing her “owie.”