10 Lessons We’ve Learned From the Mother Figures In Our Lives

Their words have inspired us to stay resilient, believe in our potential, and step outside our comfort zones.

MoMo Productions/ Getty Images
MoMo Productions/ Getty Images

As Mother’s Day approaches this weekend, we’re thinking about the wisdom we’ve received from the mothers or mother figures in our lives, and how their words have inspired us to stay resilient, believe in our potential, deepen our compassion, and step outside our comfort zones. 

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the most impactful lessons they’ve learned from their moms or other mother figures in their lives. Which of these lessons resonates with you?

You are enough. 

“My mother’s face always lit up when I walked into a room, and I try to do that for my own three kids. It made me feel like I was enough. My mother, a two-time cancer survivor, reminded me to get up, dress up, show up and never give up. My mother taught me to believe in myself beyond reason, and for that I am forever grateful. She is the wind beneath my wings.”

—Siobhan Kukolic, author, inspirational speaker and life coach, Toronto, Canada

You’re never too old to have fun.

“My grandma lived her life as an example to aspire to. Her early life was hard, and yet she emerged from it as this beautiful person, filled with light that she shined on every single person she met. She taught me that you are never too old for shenanigans. Her smile and laugh were infectious and she was always doing one or both. In addition to being a practical joker, she found the light side in everything and allowed herself to celebrate her kid inside. We were always up to something silly together, playing hide-and-go-seek, having flour fights while we baked or quietly snickering at Grandpa when he would fall asleep at the table reading the newspaper. I have continued in her tradition as my loving husband and I share the same humor in our marriage. We laugh and play together every single day. What a beautiful legacy she left me.”

—Donna Skillman, business intelligence developer, North Palm Beach, FL

Believe in yourself.

“My mom always believed in me. She didn’t look at the odds or the circumstances. She just believed. I wouldn’t know it growing up, but this was the greatest lesson that she taught me. To believe in myself always and to never allow the circumstances to determine my outcome before I try.”

—Mary Guirovich, career coach, San Antonio, TX

Always look at life with the glass half full. 

“My mother’s greatest gift to me was to show me how to look at life always with the glass half full. And the older I get, the greater the gift gets, because life isn’t easy and a positive outlook will allow you to get through the tough challenges. She would always say, I’ll worry about that tomorrow and then just smile. If she did worry about it, we never knew!”

—Alison Scott, health coach, San Diego, CA

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

‘When I was a kid, my mother would often say, ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’ when I came home from school upset about something (or usually someone) that happened that day. While I’m not sure that the advice worked then, I’ve taken it a step beyond in my adult life. Today, when I feel stressed or upset about something, I ask myself how important this will be tomorrow, next week and next year. It quickly puts things in perspective rather than getting stuck in the stir of the moment.”

—Adriane David, mindfulness-based coach, Calgary, AB, Canada

You have to strive to thrive.

“The most valuable lesson my mother taught me is that you have to strive to thrive. The rewards are so much more satisfying when we have to put some effort in and work for what you want to achieve.”

—Liggy Webb, presenter and author, UK

Empowered women empower women.

“My mom taught me the power of women who gather in community. My mother has been a community leader for women’s organizations her whole life – and is still to this day as she turns 78 next week. I too, have followed in her footsteps since I was a teen. There’s almost nothing I enjoy more than gathering with women in community in pursuit of a common goal or mission. Empowered women empower women!”

—Susan Elford, leadership coach, Calgary, Alberta

Grit is the most important trait you can develop.

“If you have grit, it doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down, you will always know how to get up again. I learned this from my grandmother. She was born in 1920, lived through the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl of West Texas, childhood polio, the loss of a 5 month old baby, WWII, divorce, the death of most of her beloved friends and family, and supporting herself as a single woman working 18 hour days as a seamstress. At 101 years old, she’s still alive, reads a dozen or more books per week on a range of subjects, lives alone, and chats with me every week about life, philosophy, politics, and how to bake the perfect pumpkin pie. At 5 foot 2 inches tall, she’s got more grit in her pinkie finger than anyone I know. Be courageous. Be gritty. Never give up. You are much, much stronger than you will ever know.”

—Annie Bauer, Asheville, NC

Follow your passion. 

“The best piece of advice my dear mother gave me was to follow my passion when selecting a career.  I remember her saying to me, ‘No matter what path you choose to follow, whether that be becoming a bus driver, a weather forecaster or a CEO, make sure you choose something that you love and something that you are passionate about and I will always be proud of you.’  I held onto that golden gem throughout my life and did select my career based on what I love to do and am passionate about, and I count my blessings every day that I get to do work that inspires me.”

—Candice Tomlinson, coach and hypnotherapist, Sydney, Australia.

You will be OK on your own.

“My mother taught me a wise lesson that will last a lifetime. She instilled in me the power of independence. To create my own financial stability and seek out a true partner not a partner for financial security. No matter what relationship I am in I always know if something happens, I will be okay on my own.” 

—Catherine McCourt, life and business coach, Vancouver, BC

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