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No Longer A Willing Prisoner

Written by Dr. Amy Johnson

[Some people put their happiness on hold because of someone’s cruel words or something that happened to them in the past. In this particular story — It was her mother’s cruel words. A lot of people become prisoners of the past or somebody else’s opinion. This post will give you the impetus to set yourself FREE once and for all!Positive Outlooks Team]



Dr. Amy Johson: Author, Psychologist & Life Coach

“I recently spoke with a woman who was holding herself back because she was afraid that if she was too much (too successful, too happy, too present in the world), she would make others uncomfortable. It was the old “Who do you think you are?” mentality—who did she think she was to do big things in life?

Those weren’t her thoughts or her questions. They were her mother’s. Her mother handed them to her her 3 or 4 decades ago.

She intellectually knew it was just her mom’s insecure thoughts and not anything she really had to worry about, but she didn’t deeply see it because it kept impacting her. She clearly saw the lack of logic, but it takes a lot more than poking holes in logic to experience real change.

As we talked more about it, it became clear that there was one tiny little piece of the equation she was missing.

She thought “Who do you think you are?” was her mom’s reaction to her. In her mind, she was loud, brash, and “out there”, and that made her mother uncomfortable. What she had been telling herself for 30 years to feel better about things was “That was only mom’s reaction—it won’t be everyone’s reaction”.

And as you might imagine, that didn’t cut it. That alone was not enough to give her the freedom to be herself because she was still assuming that some people will be turned off by her, and that her mom was turned off by her, and those aren’t pleasant thoughts to entertain.


What she didn’t fully see was that her mother’s feelings toward her were 100% about her mother’s concerns with “who do you think you are?” and not at all about her daughter at all.

They were not her mother’s reaction to “I have a bold daughter”. They had zero to do with my client, the daughter, and everything to do with the thinking her mother experienced.

Her mother would have asked “Who do you think you are?” no matter what my client had been like, no matter how she lived her life, because that’s where the mother’s thinking was at that time.

If my client had been only mildly successful, her mother would have asked “Who do you think you are?”

If she had been a meek little wallflower, it would have been, “Who do you think you are?”

“Who do you think you are?” was her mother’s narrative. It may have also been her mother’s mother’s narrative, who knows.

It is the story of many parents who innocently inherited it from their parents.

But since this one shining woman saw that she plays absolutely no role in other people’s thinking, it’s no longer her narrative. It doesn’t have to be yours either.


Dr. Amy Johson is a social psychologist, master certified coach, author and public speaker. Check out her books: Being Human • Practical Ideas for a Better Life


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Sunday 5th of April 2015

Wow, this really hits home. thank you


Friday 3rd of April 2015

We all inherit certain things from our parents and as we grow lot of things change and changes will become part of our life, but It is very strange that a woman lives completely in a mom's insecure thoughts.

gayle meechan

Thursday 2nd of April 2015

I can relate well with this women's story, I also had a mother who spent 38 years convincing me I was a completely different person to the real me,some of her manipulations and constant put downs where quite disturbing looking back with a fresh perspective on life and being in touch with my higher self, I suffered from depression low self esteem anxiety and addictions, I could not seem to get better and desperately wanted to live a better life for my children. I wanted to get to the bottom of these problems, I know a friend who reads angel cards so asked if he saw anything for me, he told me to speak to my guides and ask them to help me see, I that night before I went to sleep I closed my eyes and slowly asked to be enlightened to find the answers I needed to get better, then u had a good night's sleep. In the morning I didn't really think much of my crazy prayer but as the next couple of days went on I was seeing things in a different way, my judgement wasn't clouded by negative thoughts or doubt I could see the way I loved my children unconditionally and how I supported and nurtured, encouraged and supported their uniqueness with pride. 2 days later I got a reading out the blue from a spiritualist, she said I was about to aquire information, very serious information and to choose very carefully what I do with it because there would be no going back if I choose to use what I'm about to learn. By this point I felt completely different in myself the world was clearer and things made more sense. The day of reckoning came then. My mum called me in one of her negative horrible getting tore into me moods, my 13 yr old girl had complained to her she was hard done to ( she had been told she couldn't go out for being cheeky and manipulative ) the barrage of insults and put downs started I was told to let her go out and told I was hopeless and not right in the head, she said what kinda mother are you, your no good your kids would be better off without a so called mother like you. Snap that was the moment my mind exploded, every thing she had done or said to me over 37 years and the things she should have and could have done came pouring out of places I had buried away or had thought acceptable before now came together in a horrifying jigsaw puzzle it was so distressing to see so many terrible truths I had a breakdown and my heart completely broke and i

Sarah Fairweather-Cowie

Thursday 2nd of April 2015

Interesting how our Mothers can have such hidden impact on our lives without us even realising. Only after the break up of my 24 year marriage to someone I love dearly did I realise that the majority of my self-doubt and unfair expectations on my husband were as a result of my Mother's constant 'support' and that it had eaten away at me so much that I was on the verge of a break-down. It becomes such a part of you that you do not recognise what is happening. I was 'weak' in how I handled my children, I lacked 'strength' when standing up for myself, and my decisions were constantly being undermined when I was constantly told I 'should' do this or that instead of what I was doing. I have made so many positive changes in my life as a result of standing back and saying No More!, realising my own self-worth and recognising that I am an amazing person in my own right. Life gets better every day.

gayle meechan

Thursday 2nd of April 2015

I know exactly what you went through and I'm so happy you realised the terrible impact this negativety had on you, good on you :-)

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