Vulnerability is not weakness. And that myth is profoundly dangerous.
I hesitate to use a pathologizing label, but underneath the so-called narcissistic personality is definitely shame and the paralyzing fear of being ordinary.
I can encourage my daughter to love her body, but what really matters are the observations she makes about my relationship with my own body.
I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.
Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It's tough to do that when we're terrified about what people might see or think.
A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.
Through my research, I found that vulnerability is the glue that holds relationships together. It's the magic sauce.
My husband's a pediatrician, so he and I talk about parenting all the time. You can't raise children who have more shame resilience than you do.
I carry a small sheet of paper in my wallet that has written on it the names of people whose opinions of me matter. To be on that list, you have to love me for my strengths and struggles.
I'm not a parenting expert. In fact, I'm not sure that I even believe in the idea of 'parenting experts.' I'm an engaged, imperfect parent and a passionate researcher. I'm an experienced mapmaker and a stumbling traveler. Like many of you, parenting is by far my boldest and most daring adventure.
I'm just going to say it: I'm pro-guilt. Guilt is good. Guilt helps us stay on track because it's about our behavior. It occurs when we compare something we've done - or failed to do - with our personal values.
When we're looking for compassion, we need someone who is deeply rooted, is able to bend and, most of all, embraces us for our strengths and struggles.
What's the greater risk? Letting go of what people think - or letting go of how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?
When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonging, your worthiness, is a birthright and not something you have to earn, anything is possible.
The intention and outcome of vulnerability is trust, intimacy and connection. The outcome of oversharing is distrust, disconnection - and usually a little judgment.