The Spiritual Implications of Brene Brown’s TED Talk on Vulnerability

Brene Brown speaking at TED

This past week I enjoyed watching two videos by author/researcher Brene Brown on the role of vulnerability and shame.  People downloaded her first TED talk nearly four million times and her new video is going viral as well. She has the rare ability to combine both personal story with interesting facts from her research.

It’s amazing to me how there is always something new to learn about a subject. I’ve taught on shame now for several years but Brene Brown broadened my understanding and made some great connections for me on the importance of vulnerability in relationships.

Brene Brown on Vulnerability & Shame

Brown set up vulnerability as the antithesis to shame…shame being a desire to cover up and hide out of an overwhelming sense of unworthiness.  Shame lives in the fear of not making connection with others. Shame says, “I’m afraid that if people know who I really am they will reject me.” But vulnerability is the willingness to risk uncovering yourself in the hope of making connection.

Brene Brown on Vulnerability & Joy

Her “aha” research moment was learning that vulnerability is the birthplace of all joy and love. To find love and joy requires the risk of vulnerability. That’s what makes connection to others possible. Without vulnerability you remain isolated and alone and aloneness is a painful place. Connection, however, is what we long for.

Brene Brown sees a continuum between shame and connection with vulnerability being the “dial” that you turn to move toward one or the other extreme. If you want more connection in your life you need to turn up your vulnerability.

Vulnerability & Spirituality

There are three spiritual implications that jump out at me:

1. I have the freedom to risk vulnerability when I am convinced of God’s unconditional love for me. When I know that I am loved and valuable I am free to love others and fully connect with them. Just knowing the value of vulnerability doesn’t help me unless I know what will give me the courage to risk being vulnerable.

2. When God wanted to connect with humanity he “turned up the vulnerability dial”. He didn’t create an outlandish, over-the-top God moment to wow us. He entered the world as another human and submitted himself to our inhumanity. The Bible says this about Jesus…

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! Philippians 2:6-8

Brene Brown is right; the path to connection is by being vulnerable. Jesus showed us that.  But you can only take that risk when you are fully convinced that if you are rejected you won’t lose any value.

3. I connect with God through my weakness (vulnerability) not my strength. So many people think that they have to get their act together to connect with God. They’ve got it wrong.  It’s coming to him in our weakness that allows him to reveal his unconditional love and acceptance to us. Our vulnerability with God creates a connection.

Take a look at the TED Talks by Brene Brown.  See if you don’t gain some personal insight of your own. Learn more about shame and spirituality in Healing the Hurts of Your Past.

Question: What is it about being vulnerable that either intrigues you are scares you?

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10 thoughts on “The Spiritual Implications of Brene Brown’s TED Talk on Vulnerability

  1. Teresa

    This is so true. We can be vulnerable much more easily when we know our value lies in God’s value system. I do think a note of caution is important when choosing who you will be vulnerable with. Shared hurts or weaknesses can be innocently or not so innocently turned into gossip. Even though you get your esteem from God that gossip can hurt relationships and at it’s worst destroy a person’s reputation.
    Vulnerabilty with wisdom and boundaries creates bridges and healing.

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  8. Lisa

    Loved your spiritual implications of BB talk’s on vulnerability. These thoughts were on point for me…
    “Just knowing the value of vulnerability doesn’t help me unless I know what will give me the courage to risk being vulnerable.”

    Yes! I agree 100%. The only word I would change here is the “what” to a “who”. “What” feels like an object to me. “Who” on the other hand keeps God a person with feelings in my mind.
    “Jesus showed us that. But you can only take that risk when you are fully convinced that if you are rejected you won’t lose any value.”
    When I ponder on how vulnerable Jesus made himself to us…in the form of a baby, in power, in love, in sacrifice, service, in humility, on the cross, in His message….wow I’m stunned! How amazing He is in His vulnerability. It’s an example for us too. Makes me ask myself, “Got courage to trust Him and am I willing to imitate Him in these areas?”

    “It’s coming to him in our weakness that allows him to reveal his unconditional love and acceptance to us. Our vulnerability with God creates a connection.”

    This is a beautiful thought, still wrapping my mind around it. Learning how to be friends with “weakness” and how that fits in His plan. “He is strong when I am weak” stuff…2 Corinthians 12:7-10 “weakness” teachings that are counter culture…
    So thanks for sharing your thoughts, it was rich reading with my cup of tea this morning. 😉 Blessings

    1. F. Remy Diederich

      Hey…thanks for :”talking back” with a little commentary. Glad it meant something to you. I think Brene has hit on a very big and deep topic in vulnerability and how it leads to connection. It’s rooted deeply in scripture. I hope she knows that!

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