Lessons Learned from Princess Diana – Lesson #6

Lesson #6: Embrace Vulnerability

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Princess Diana used her public image and royal status to bring humility and honesty to the field of mental health. The life and legacy of Princess Diana embraced the vulnerability of others and, more poignantly herself. In her openness to her personal challenges, she may have unwittingly encouraged us all to confront our demons and seek professional help.

Princess Diana openly spoke about her battles with depression, self-doubt, and postpartum depression. By sharing her experiences, she humanized mental health issues and sparked conversations that were often considered taboo. This applied to her marriage woes as well. Diana had a knack for deeply relating to the public in many ways. After her troubled marriage became public knowledge, she openly discussed her challenges, allowing others struggling to feel seen and heard. She was a trailblazer.

As a teenager and young woman, I dreamed of creating a nurturing and safe space for my children. I imagined a warm and fuzzy place where heart-to-heart talks would be encouraged. I pictured two parents on the same page of the “Parenting Book.” But it didn’t end up that way as my children were growing up. The parents who I grew up with, that made me feel safe and loved and taught me how to be expressive by holding hands and kissing, were not the parents my children had. And yes, this still haunts me every now and again.

Reflecting on my journey of vulnerability as a parent, “I need to put on the oxygen mask first,” thinking comes to mind. I saw the benefit of counseling and sought it several times during and after my first marriage and a few times before my second marriage. I realized that two-way communication was the secret sauce in healthy relationships.

Good mental health requires people to be open and honest with themselves, their partners, and their children. Counseling requires hard introspective work, and many are just not ready to make that commitment. Often more time is needed to be ready for counseling. Or a fixed mindset prevents them from seeing the benefits of therapy or any help or assistance in general. It takes courage to acknowledge and express our true selves. Princess Diana showed the world that vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but of strength that fosters connection, empathy, and understanding. All of which necessitate some form of communication.

A smile.
A warm touch.
A glance.
A laugh.
A text.
An email.
A phone call.

I acknowledge moments of self-doubt, uncertainty, and the poor navigating of the often-hard road that parenting requires. Yet, I did something right because my children turned out to be okay. Both graduated from top-notch universities. Both are independent. Both are genuinely kind people if you dig deep enough. I’m sure we could agree that healthy relationships are vital in today’s ever-changing world. Even tricky words, we occasionally need to hear, are worth the effort.