Cyma Shapiro Chats with Terri Amos Brit, author, The Enlightened Mom
A: My greatest achievement as a mother is the fact that I have healed my life and stopped the cycle of pain that is so often handed down from generation to generation in families. As a mom and a life coach, I've made it my life mission to heal and to help moms heal. And what I've seen from my own life and other moms making this decision is that when mom heals, the family heals. Where there was once judgment, blame, frustration and resentment, mom's healing creates greater communication, acceptance, joy, playfulness and unconditional love in the home. I am so thankful I discovered this years ago to set this tone for my family.
Q: What has been your greatest failure?
A: I don't feel a sense of failure as a mom. If I could change anything, however, it would have been to heal my life before I became a stepmom to my late husband's son. I didn't like how I was with him. That's when I made a decision to heal. I didn't like that I felt angry and overwhelmed all of the time when he was with us. On the other hand, if I had not had that experience, I would not have stepped into my life mission. With that said, I don't feel like I was a failure at all. It is only when I don't look within and learn what is causing my pain in the first place that I feel like a failure.
Q: As Mother's Day approaches, many women find this to be a soul-searching time of year. In many instances, their introspection reveals self-doubt, unhappiness, and a feeling that they are "falling short" as mothers. How would you counsel them?
A: To stop trying to perform for your family because when you do, you set the example for them to feel as if they have to perform, too. I would encourage every mom to accept her humanness and know that she is not responsible for making others happy. Happiness is a choice we make by going within and connecting to our hearts. The greatest gift a mom can give her family is to stop performing, being an example to her family to find the love within. This is true abundance.
Q: Your book, "The Enlightened Mom," was written after years of your own unhappiness as a woman, wife and mother. Can you share some insights about the path which led you to this?
A: I spent my life trying to be "the best" at everything. I thought I had to "act" certain ways, always trying to win people's approval. And I got a lot of it. But with each achievement I received an award that was given to me, I felt something was missing. Even in that moment of winning Miss USA 1982, I felt emptiness. My ego said, "Yes!" but my spirit asked, "Is this it?" I thought getting other people's approval was love. But in that moment, I began to realize that something wasn't quite right. I continued this search for love in the TV industry as well, but always failed. It wasn't until I became a mom and struggled, always trying to do things right and be 'the best," that I began to realize that the search outside of myself for love and acceptance was causing me great pain. I lived by a set of rules that told me how I "must be" to receive love and I was putting those rules onto my family. I found myself controlling, angry, frustrated and often wanting to run for the hills. I truly couldn't stand myself. Then I made a decision to heal. It was here that I discovered the source of my pain: I was denying myself. In my effort to be "the best" and seek others' love and approval, I was disconnecting from my heart. This disconnection is what creates pain and suffering. When I made a decision to end the pain and heal, I discovered that the anger and negativity I felt as a mom and those knee-jerk reactions I hated so much were actually gifts. They were red-flags telling me that I had disconnected from my heart and wasn't honoring and loving the way I was created. By allowing my pain to guide me to the false beliefs that were in my subconscious mind that told me how I "must be" to gain others' love, and by releasing those beliefs and giving myself permission to just be me, I stopped the cycle of pain that had been handed down from previous generations.
Q: It's interesting that by trying to "be the best” mother, you've identified that the journey often denies you - the caretaker and mom - your own needs, wants and desires. Do you find this to be endemic to women, in general, or mothers, in specific?
A: Because mom sets the tone, women tend to take on the roles of their mothers. So even though a woman might not be a mom, she may still play the caretaker.
Q: You've utilized your strengths as an energetic healer and spiritual consultant as the basis for your own personal work, and the resultant help you offer others. How might you counsel women to find their own strengths in this area?
A: I believe that finding a way to look within is the key to connecting to your inner wisdom and strength. For some women, this may mean meditating, and for others it may mean journaling or exercising alone in nature. It is up to each woman to discover what is right for her. But once she finds what resonates with her heart, she creates a pathway to that wisdom and strength. For me, I do all of the above. I know that if I am feeling anything but joy and love, it is time for me to create a connection within. Depending on what time of day it is and how I feel, I choose the tool that works best for me.
Q: What daily practices do you employ to affirm and take care of yourself?
A: I LOVE to meditate! And I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to write to connect to my heart.
Q: What are some of the tips you offer women to help maintain themselves?
A: Accept your humanness. It's the most loving thing we can do as women, and to nurture and love the little child within. By creating communication with the five-year-old inside of you, you discover what's right for you. You open up to compassion for yourself by loving this little kid. She is your heart, your greatest messenger of all.
Q: Having spent so many years striving and often reaching lofty personal and professional goals before becoming new older mothers, and finding their crowning achievement, as mothers, to be less than they had hoped, many women feel the angst of "not good enough" more acutely than some of their younger counterparts. What tips can you offer this group, in particular?
A: It is never too late to begin loving and forgiving yourself, because as you find inner abundance, you will still be an example of love and healing for your family. I work with women in their 70's, and these are some of the most remarkable women because they have such wisdom to share and at the same time continue to evolve and heal. What a gift they are!
Q: How important do you find religion, spiritual practices, or forms of exercise/meditation/other modalities to keeping yourself "in check?"
A: I find my spiritual practice is THE most important thing I can do for myself, as well as for my family. It is when I maintain this kind of connection that I am the most joyful, loving person I can be.
Q: Finally, what one gift can you offer mothers this Mother's Day?
A: You are of value. Most moms don't believe they matter. But you do. Everything about you is important. When you finally make a decision to release the beliefs that tell you this isn't so and finally love and honor the way you were created, you will be a tremendous light for all those you love. It's not what we do for our families, but how we live our lives that affects them the most!
Terri Amos Britt is a spiritual life coach, bestselling author, and expert on the “Law of Attraction.” After overcoming her own serious anger management issues, Terri spent the last 12 years not only healing her own life, but helping women all over the world heal theirs through her inspirational newsletters and books. She is the author of her newest book, The Enlightened Mom, her previous book Message Sent: Retrieving the Gift of Love, and she co-authored the books A Juicy, Joyful Life and Wake Up Women. Terri is a columnist for Aspire magazine, an online magazine for women. She can be found @ http://www.theenlightenedmom.com/