Get Emotionally Naked

Scratch the surface and you are likely to find that many of us don’t have the depth or quality of relationships that we long for.

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That was definitely true for me. Twenty years ago I realised that I wasn’t very good at relating and in the two decades since then I have been determined to discover how to build stronger and more genuine relationships.

I am still learning. I hope this blog will be a part of that process of working it out in practice and I hope that you will join me so that we can learn from each other and add to our collective pool of wisdom.

If I had to choose a symbol to represent my blog – it would be a naked hedgehog.

Why a naked hedgehog?

To me it symbolises what it means to have authentic relationships.

On a cold day a hedgehog will search out other hedgehogs to huddle up with to keep warm. But because of his prickly spines he is forced to make a choice. Get close, stay warm and get stabbed; or keep away, stay safe and freeze.

In 1851 German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer came up with the ‘Hedgehog’s Dilemma’ (I paraphrased it a little) to describe our human predicament. We long for strong and intimate relationships but we also fear getting hurt and do all we can to protect ourselves from others.

So what is the answer to ours and the hedgehog’s dilemma? I believe it is about ‘getting naked’.

That means taking off our prickles, letting down our defences and daring to bare who we are on the inside. It is about being ourselves and being known and loved for who we are. It is allowing others to be real with us.

I won’t pretend that authentic relating is easy – it isn’t. It takes courage and also discernment to know whom we can trust. But I do know that investing in authentic relationships is one of the most rewarding adventures we can ever undertake.

If you want to do any or all of the following – then I hope you will join me and we can gradually ‘strip bare’ together.

· build deeper relationships where we can be ‘ourselves’ with others

· make more time for our most important relationships

· learn to be great listeners and really understand others

· say what we mean and mean what we say

· discover the impact that we have on others

· deal with tricky situations and have the difficult conversations we dread having

· be the friend we’ve always wanted

· be a leader worth following

· thrive (not just survive) with our families

· date like we mean it (for those that are wanting to find a partner), and

· make a marriage that matters (for those who are married)

How easy or difficult do you find it being a “naked hedgehog” in your relationships? I’d love to hear what helps or hinders you when it comes to getting emotionally naked.

Please join me in this conversation and let me know if there are any topics you would like me to tackle or look at. I hope this will be an on-going dialogue that we can have together.

Sarah Abell

How to live, love and lead authentically,

My passion for authentic relationships came out of my own failure to relate well in my early twenties and what I’ve been learning about true connection ever since. What do I do? Good question and one I always find a bit tricky to answer. In a nutshell I help people to live, love and lead authentically. You can find out more at I have written, coached and spoken on relationships and authentic living to thousands of people. I was the Agony Aunt for The Daily Telegraph and I'm the author of "Inside Out - How to have authentic relationships with everyone in your life" (Hodder 2011). I have given two TEDx talks on authentic relationships and I write the Life Lab experiment on Love for Psychologies. I have been married to David for twelve years and we have one son, who is six. We live in Bristol.


Go to the profile of Emily Dubberley
over 7 years ago
What a lovely analogy. I think hedgehogs are born with soft quills - the spikes get harder with age: similar to the way that people get more spiky with age/baggage
Go to the profile of Sofia Brown
almost 6 years ago
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