As embryos inside of our mother’s womb we start a mirrored journey into this earthly experience, all the adventure begins with the kind of emotions that our mother is passing us through her experience of the world, if she’s too stressed, we are feeling it, if she’s excited, we sense it and attune to it, if she’s afraid we protect ourselves!
Every single interaction that she’s having with the outside world we are being exposed to it, which also includes the kind of self-care that she has for herself! It’s until the last two decades that this information has been fine tuned to understand that our genes, proteins, bacteria (microbiota), immune system and even our mental health predisposition are being boosted or disrupted according to many of those chemical signals that are being released!
As we leave that chemical bubble space of the womb, and be welcomed in our first experience of birth, sensing the environment, we completely depend on the love, care and nurture expressions of our mother to sort out the most basic sensations to survive. The level of regulation without overprotection is what will allow us to grow up more attune to be self-reliant and adjust our mental thought cycles as well!
We begin to create our own story, as we are encouraged to be curious, to discover the world and are directed to also solve our own “little” problems. However, the intimate link with our mothers remains intact due to the strong nature of all the emotions that we perceive while we were conceived, this is one of the reasons we can still be safe and secure in the space of a loving mother!
But what happens with them during that stage where we are developing and dependent on them for everything? Well, a strong, “invisible” link has been formed and is activated in spite of the distance that we might have with them! It’s that’s sixth sense that the feminine side has, but heightened to perceive danger, threats or strange sensations that only mothers can be able to perceive!
The safety, attachment and nurture behaviors that we receive since the womb through childhood stages are critical to set us into a healthier pathway to be able to recognize our emotions, attune to them, and even be able to perceive them in others to develop more empathy and compassion for other people!
These are the backstage unfolding of events that will influence how we start to develop strong relationships in adulthood or we might have some issues to recognize emotions, allow us to feel them and of course develop a healthy self-love expression to navigate in safer waters throughout our lives!
The other side of the coin is the lack, the incongruency, the toxic examples that we might be experiencing as a child that have a very permissive effect of sending us to stumble into toxic relationships. Which for sure, is not a gateway to develop blame for any past events that you lived or to develop regret if you were a mom that wasn’t conscious of all these behaviors!
This is just the layout map to understand the relevance of our mother’s love and how these attachments, rewarding bonds are formed as well as creating more awareness on how to develop responsibility to solve them!
Maternal and romantic love share a common and crucial evolutionary purpose, namely the maintenance and perpetuation of the species. Both ensure the formation of firm bonds between individuals, by making this behavior a rewarding experience. They therefore share a similar evolutionary origin and serve a similar biological function. It is likely that they also share at least a core of common neural mechanisms. Neuro-endocrine, cellular and behavioral studies of various mammalian species ranging from rodents to primates show that the neurohormones vasopressin and oxytocin are involved in the formation and maintenance of attachment between individuals, and suggest a tight coupling between attachment processes and the neural systems for reward (1).
These two amazing hormones oxytocin and vasopressin have extremely important effects in terms of developing a strong immune system, regulating many metabolic mechanisms that include a balanced energetic hormone release to use carbohydrates, fats and proteins for the right functions, or develop some dysfunctional pattern such as diabetes, obesity and satiety issues that of course can derail your health towards eating disorders.
Oxytocin exposure early in life not only regulates our ability to love and form social bonds, it also has an impact on our health and well-being. Oxytocin modulates the hypothalamic–pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, especially in response to disruptions in homeostasis, and coordinates demands on the immune system and energy balance. Long-term secure relationships provide emotional support and downregulate reactivity of the HPA axis, whereas intense stressors, including birth, trigger activation of the HPA axis and sympathetic nervous system (2).
A cascade of events is regulated by something that we never give the right amount of meaning in our interactions as parents, which is something that should be now available to the future mothers as well as to the ones that already have adult sons or daughters to allow them to understand many of the possible consequences that they could have had during their lives.
The love of our mothers, the unconditional expression of care at any stage of our lives, is something that has extremely deep consequences, and we should honor, encourage, and support it more! Of course, that all of that research evidence speaks for itself, in terms of the healing chain reaction that a simple hug, a recognition of an achievement, the allowance of affection and emotions in our family, despite our age are able to do!
After living a stage of social isolation, separation from our families or loved ones, friends, disruptive priming events that triggered many of these unresolved issues that we lived as children, and of course the huge statistics in domestic violence, tearing up of marriages! Now we can understand that many of those consequences have an explanation that goes beyond the trivial things of not understanding each other’s past, of having some emotional baggage! It is many times imprinted in your genes, is a series of unregulated hormones that need to be balanced!
Therefore, how can we start seeing all those events as an opportunity to grow, instead of just replaying the victim role of previous generations?
There are a series of strategies that can be put into place to allow ourselves to connect deeper with our mothers, fathers and loved ones to finally be in charge of the future relationships that we want to assemble and to heal the future generations with more stability, resilience and regulated hormone profile:
Developing a more reciprocal relationship with our families where we can have a safe space to express emotions, to demonstrate affection and to develop compassion and empathy for each other’s journey!
Recognizing that if you’re an adult that had several issues in terms of the affection and love that you received, that you still have a great opportunity to repurpose your path towards healing those wounds by engaging in a deeper talk with your parents about their own past experiences!
If you’re already a mother/parent and become more aware of patterns, beliefs and pain from unresolved issues in your childhood, it is time to heal the cycle and to become a better version of the mother/parent that you could be and break the never ending generational dysfunctional family!
Constructing a network of emotional support that allow you to have key friendships to be able to talk deeper issues, to be listened, as well as having simple affection expressions such as hugging, being recognized and just the fact of being able to yourself will create a healing thread of releasing these powerful love hormones;
Forgiving and letting go any resentment that you’re harboring is also a keystone to stop many physical symptoms that you might be having already, in addition to soften, regulate and improved your mood and mental health profile!
As much as possible practice being reflective in your life, let yourself pay more attention to the way you’re thinking, speaking, acting to be a more congruent role model to your children and moreover to feel the peace and alignment that congruency will bring to you!
No one was taught to be a mother, a parent, to have the immense responsibility of raising a healthy, functional and thriving human being, therefore also have grace for your mistakes, allow a process of learning, be humble, apologize and recognize that you’re a work in progress and with that in mind both your journey and the one your children will witness and then have, will become an easier challenge instead of a constant struggle with regrets and a whole spiral of negative emotions!
We’re all here to learn, we are in the same classroom with different subjects, with a different purpose and it is also time to fully honor the amazing job that all mother’s do and be more supportive of that role with simple actions that demonstrate that we can act like a team, whether you’re living in a family, you’re divorced, separated! Labels won’t matter if you both as parents support each other and admired the work each one is doing from its own abilities and will to learn!
1) Bartels, A., & Zeki, S. (2004). The neural correlates of maternal and romantic love. NeuroImage, 21(3), 1155–1166.
2) Carter, C. S., & Porges, S. W. (2013). The biochemistry of love: an oxytocin hypothesis. EMBO reports, 14(1), 12–16. https://doi.org/10.1038/embor.2012.191