Daily Coaching 502: When Will My Mother Ever Stop?

By Greg Baer M.D.

June 26, 2007

“The other day my mother asked me and my kids to dinner. I was glad to accept because I really didn’t want to cook that night. But then she spent the entire evening telling me what I SHOULD do, and what I should NOT have done, and what I OUGHT to do, and “if only you had listened to me,” and stuff like that. Really, the whole evening was like that. Then I was even stupid enough to tell her what was going on in my life, looking for a little support, so I got even more advice. Wow, was that stupid. I walked away feeling very frustrated. Will she ever stop treating me like this? Or will I ever catch on?”

You asked two questions, and they really have to be dealt with separately. First, will she ever stop treating you like this? No, probably not. And, will you ever catch on? Maybe, and that’s the only thing you have control over.

When people don’t feel loved, they ALWAYS use some form of Imitation Love—they can’t help themselves, because they’re drowning—and in the process they almost ALWAYS inconvenience and even hurt the people around them. They use Imitation Love at the EXPENSE of others. That’s how Imitation Love works, especially when people use POWER, as your mother does with you when she controls you by telling you what to do and by being right and by correcting you. She just LOVES controlling you. It makes her feel important and worthwhile. And if that hurts your feelings, well, tough. Drowning people don’t even see what their behavior does to the OBJECTS around them, any PEOPLE who are floating around them become just that: objects. Sorry, baby, but to your mother, you’re an object.

Now, is that likely to change? Unless your mother comes across some gold mine of Real Love in the near future, no, it probably won’t, so that answers your first question: No, she probably won’t stop treating you like this. YOUR problem is that you keep EXPECTING her to change. You keep going to the drowning woman and expecting her to give you a little support in the water on the occasions when YOU are drowning. That would make you, well, a little stupid. And relax, I’m not making fun of you. I’m simply describing your behavior bluntly SO THAT you’ll see it for what it is, so you’ll choose more wisely and be happier.

Now, it’s UNDERSTANDABLE that you go to your mother. Come on, we’re taught from infancy that we should be able to expect our own MOTHERS, of all people to love us. Nothing is exalted as much as a mother’s love. We’re taught that a mother’s love is just natural. It just happens. We can count on it. But that simply is not true. Mothers have to LEARN to love, and the truth is, very few of them actually learn to love unconditionally. Nor do fathers, and THAT is THE reason for the angry and unhappy condition of the world. Period.

If you want to be happy, you absolutely must quit going to your mother for love and support. That does not mean you should throw her away. You can spend time with her, but NOT if you expect her to love you in ANY WAY. She CAN’T do it. CAN’T, not WON’T. So you need to develop a network of loving people as extensive as possible, so you’ll get as much Real Love as you can from people other than your mother. With enough of that, you’ll lose your need for love from any one person, like your mother, and you’ll find the happiness you want—the happiness we all want.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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