How Did I Become My Mother?


By Dr. Sylvia Lafair

Do you feel that being a female is to your advantage or the scourge of the earth for success?

Remember being fresh out of school and chomping at the bit to make ‘it’ happen? Were you full of ‘piss and vinegar’ looking for the perfect job or did you grab the first one that came along? And today, are you in the dream place in your career or doing what you have to, just to make it through the day?

Women have made great strides in our society and yet there are still those stereotypes that live on and on. You know, like “men take charge, women take care,” or “men are rational, women are emotional,” and how about “men are tough, women are nice.”

And that old saying when talking about “nice guys” is usually followed by “finish last.” And an ugly one that says “women are” finishing with “bitches.”

Have any of these stereotypes kept you from getting at the head of the line? Have you been willing to elbow your way through the throngs to get in front of the crowd?

Here’s a question for you.

What messages from your mother and all the other women from your past are still living in you today?

You see, there are behavior patterns that have been handed from generation to generation, and they are often like tiny whispers that play in our minds, so quiet that we are not aware of them. They are there anyway. Whether we like it or not!

Carl Jung, a noted psychologist said it well. “Every mother contains her daughter in herself and every daughter her mother.”

“Not me. I am nothing like my mom,” you say, however, if you stop and think about it, you can find many ways you are similar.

Are you bossy? Was your mom (or primary caretaker) one who always told everyone what to do?

Are you a pleaser? Was your mom (or primary caretaker) one who smiled and said “yes” to everything?

Are you a procrastinator? Was your mom (or primary caretaker) one who always put things off till tomorrow? You get the idea.

As children we did copy what the most important grown-ups around us did. That is how we learned what it was like to be an adult. The problem is much of what we learned belonged to a different generation and the behavior patterns are now outdated and won’t work for us in present time.

What do we do with these annoying and persistent patterns that get in the way of our success?

There are 13 destructive patterns at work and at home today. Now, not to worry. They can be transformed into what is positive and healthy. However, first, you need to learn about them and see which ones fit you like a hand in a glove.

Look over the following list and, better yet go to and take the Pattern Aware Quiz™. You will be given a group of questions to answer that will show you in a clear and researched way, which patterns are, as I say ‘sticky’ and have your name on them. There are usually two or three that are deeply ingrained in your nervous system. And you will be given the transformed pattern you can then work with. And the good news is, once you know what they are and what to change, you are on your way to transform them.

Here is the list:

  1. Super achiever – must win at all costs
  2. Rebel – can’t accept any authority
  3. Procrastinator – won’t finish anything
  4. Clown – reduces everything to a joke
  5. Persecutor – bullies people into misery
  6. Victim – too scared to take any action
  7. Rescuer – demands to be the big hero
  8. Drama Queen – makes emotional scenes
  9. Martyr – does everyone else’s work
  10. Pleaser – says what folks want to hear
  11. Avoider – dodges work and responsibility
  12. Denier – won’t face problems directly
  13. Splitter – secretly sets up conflict

Can you see yourself in one or several patterns? Most people will say “that sounds just like my girlfriend” or “just like my mother-in-law” or “my husband.” It is harder to see ourselves and yet, when we do, we can put some effort in and when change occurs it is magical.

The most GUTSY WOMEN today are the ones who are determined to change the outdated patterns and say “it will stop with me.” And even better find the most effective ways of relating, past stereotypes, cultural restraints, and fear to say, “The new will start with me.”

And that takes guts!