Celebrate Your Mother’s Strength—Not Her Girly Thoughts


Sometimes it is difficult to see what is before your eyes.

You may not notice what is obvious: Both you and your mother have many strengths. You may be too conditioned by your girly thoughts to appreciate your moms resilience, her ability to bounce back from adversity. But who was your first influence in developing your own resilience? Your mother!

What are girly thoughts? you ask. Girly thoughts is the uncomfortable name I’ve given to what women do: we focus on faults in ourselves and in other women our mothers, even our daughters; we do to ourselves what society at large does to us, and that negative, self-defeating talk harms us and keeps us from our power.

Pre-Spanx: The Girdle

When I think of my mother, I remember so many stories. Many of them are now funny, like when my mother and I were shopping for a girdle for me.

Remember, this was pre-Spanx; this was girdle time, and my mother thought a girdle was a necessity . . . except we couldn’t quite find one small enough to fit my tall and (at that time) lanky frame.

“Why do I need a girdle?” I remember hissing at her in a store.

“Because you don’t want to spread.” Not a reason my eleven-year-old self felt was valid, but my mother was adamant. She bought me a girdle that hung off my hips. But she was happy. She had done her job. She was helping her five foot five inch, ninety-pound eleven-year-old not spread.

This is why I was so excited to see how someone I so admire—Audra McDonald, the beautiful, funny opera singer—is delighted by her mother’s strength, both physical and emotional.

Honoring Our Mothers

Who was my mother? She was a funny, unconventional woman who was also a product of her times, where her very own girly thoughts said women had to be thin to be desirable. And she loved me enough to fight with me over wearing a girdle to achieve this.

So let’s have fun. Make a list of some of the girly thoughts your mother raised you believing because she believed them:






Now write how you counter these girly thoughts today:






Remember that your mother did what she thought was best for you, just like you are doing with your daughter, your friends, your grandchildren. The important thing to remember is that you now have the ability to change the girly thoughts you wished your mother had the wisdom to do when you were a girl.

Drop me a line and share what girly thoughts your mother had as you think of her this Mother’s Day.

Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my two latest books, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power and The Resilient Woman: Mastering The 7 Steps to Personal Power.

Our Mother, on Mother’s Day: Honoring Our First Model for Our Resilience

We all come to the celebration of Mother’s Day with a long history of being a daughter, profoundly influenced for better, or worst, by our mothers. For some, the notion of honoring our mother on Mother’s Day brings about a mix of emotions. Into this emotionally charged day full of obligations, memories, some sweet, others not, I’d like to propose that if for no other reason than giving you your first example of how to deal with life challenges by developing resiliency, we should honor our mothers on this Sunday, Mother’s Day.

There is no one who we are, or were, as close to as our mothers. They were our model for who we wanted to become, and did not want to act, sometimes simultaneously. We did, at one time, idealize our mothers. Many still do. We did want to just be like mommy, and many of us still use our mothers as a measure for our actions, even if this surprises us. Not that every example we were offered, worked. Nor that our mother didn’t have her own struggles: perhaps, with an alcoholic husband, or her own drinking, eating, or drug use; or her needing to deal with violence in her home, or in her community while protecting her children, or her facing discrimination at her job. Not that our mother didn’t have her own girly thoughts, those negative messages we internalize from society that serve to both limit us and blame us. Because she both loved and wanted to protect you, her daughter, your mother may have reinforced many of these messages, after all, that was all she knew.

But our mothers did show us what worked, and what didn’t. Through our close observation of them, we absorbed our earliest life’s lessons of how to make it through life with dignity, while respecting others, and ourselves. As such we are simultaneously so very close to our mothers, and often shocked and repelled by how much we are indeed like them. This is the mother/daughter dance.

The relationship between a mother and her daughter is complicated, at the very least. There is great love, tenderness, even, pride, but this relationship can also be tinged by other feelings, less talked about, less patriotic: envy of the power a mother has, particularly when we were a teenager; jealousy, on a mother’s part particularly as daughters matures, and she ages; caretaking, as mothers become infirm, and daughters become in some ways their nurturer, coming often at a time when daughters are over-whelmed by the needs their our own children. Being a daughter is a challenge. Having a daughter is a challenge. And it is within this very challenge, that our resilience is staged and begins to be developed.

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