Life Lab's Masterclass on Authenticity

Sarah Abell (from NakedHedgehogs.com) kicks off the first of the Life Lab's Masterclasses.

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Sep 01, 2014
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Authenticity is key to so much in life: close friendships, deep connections, lasting love, great sex, successful leadership, flourishing families and strong communities. I've spent twenty years exploring what it means to relate authentically. My passion for the topic came out of my own search for deeper connections. My mess became my message. In this first Life Lab's Masterclass, I focus on one step that we can all take today to become more authentic. Why not watch the video and give it a try? You can use the comments section to let me know how you get on with the challenge.
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Sarah Abell

How to live, love and lead authentically, www.nakedhedgehogs.com

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 www.nakedhedgehogs.com 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.
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Go to the profile of Suzy Greaves
Suzy Greaves almost 3 years ago

Hi Sarah, loving your masterclass. Here are a couple of questions which have come through our readers so far.
Can we really be authentic with a new crowd - how do you know you can trust them?
Is it wise to be authentic at work? Wouldn't colleagues judge you if you tell them your inner most secrets?

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Suzy Greaves almost 3 years ago

Hi some more questions from Facebook:
Benjamin Alec Strauber I want to know how to attract good quality people of honesty. And repel dishonest and manipulative people?

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Suzy Greaves almost 3 years ago

Another question from Facebook: Anna Danicka- Life Empowerment Coaching.
I'd love to learn how to be ok with saying "No, I'm not fine", "Things are not great, I need some help" instead of so expected of us "Oh I'm fine", "Everything is going great".

It feels like society does not allow us to be authentic when things are not going well and we are expected to cover it up, pretend and deal with it in private.

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Suzy Greaves almost 3 years ago

Another question from Facebook:
Lucy Allen As a trainee therapist I have worked hard to move towards self actualisation autonomy thus living in a world of my own authenticity. However, what guidance does Psychologies give to people able to live autonomously yet who find society unsupportive of this way of living? E.g- authentic communication is not always appropriate in the workplace? Or the value of being 'okay with who you are and whatever that means' but finding that society is unsupportive and judgemental of that? The challenge I keep finding for me and clients alike is you finally learn to be okay with yourself and the world around you can't be. I hope that makes sense. Excellent and thought provoking question! Thank yo

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Suzy Greaves almost 3 years ago

Twitter question
Emily @hopefulem

@PsychologiesMag how do you know if you're being authentic?

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Sarah Abell almost 3 years ago

Brilliant - keep them coming! Looking forward to tackling them at 1.

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Emma Bibby almost 3 years ago

Do you have any tips for being authentic, when you feel your usual ways of protecting yourself (e.g. hiding behind humour, or a usual pattern of being)?

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Sarah Abell almost 3 years ago

Hello everyone. Some great questions. Please forgive the typing as I have a go at answering these as quickly as I can! And do come back with follow up comments and questions.

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Sarah Abell almost 3 years ago

OK first answer goes to the question: Can we really be authentic with a new crowd - how do you know you can trust them?

Trust is built on knowledge and reliance. Start small and build from there. You don’t need to strip emotionally naked on your first meeting. You can be authentic without being totally vulnerable or transparent. Stick to what is honest and true but you can control to what depth you share.

If you are concerned – why not try sharing one or two things that involve discussing your feelings, thoughts and opinions and see how your new friends react? How do they respond? If you feel safe with them and they start to reciprocate – you might want to share a little more the next time. If they judge you, bad mouth you or others, look awkward or anything else that makes you uncomfortable – back up a level of communication and share at a level that makes sense for the moment.

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Sarah Abell almost 3 years ago

Emily on Twitter – How do you know you are being authentic? Great question! Being authentic is when you are being real, true to yourself and genuine. It is you without the thinking about how you ‘should’ or ‘ought’ to be. It is you when you are not trying to please people or alter yourself so that you might belong.

If like me – you are someone – who spent many years using defences to keep safe – it can be hard to know precisely what it looks, or feels like. And we probably won’t get there over night. It can be a process. But as we practice and allow others to see us without our armour or protection – we realise that being authentic is the most natural state in the world.

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Sarah Abell almost 3 years ago

Benjamin on Facebook. I want to know how to attract good quality people of honesty. And repel dishonest and manipulative people.

If you are a good quality person of honesty – you are more likely to attract others who are the same. As for repelling dishonest and manipulative people – it is always your choice who you engage with or let into your life. But I also think it is worth remembering that there are normally good reasons why people are behaving that way. For some reasons – they are seeking protection over connection.

If you can make them feel safe and if you can care enough about getting to know the real them – you might just find that they are a good person hiding behind a manipulative mask.

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Sarah Abell almost 3 years ago

Is it wise to be authentic at work?

All work places are not the same so it isn’t easy to generalise. Also the individuals in those work places might also be very different. Having said that though - I still think it is essential to be authentic at work. However, it might not always be appropriate to be vulnerable or transparent. I believe we will all operate at our best when we are showing up as ourselves and not hiding ourselves away or pretending to be someone we are not.

If you are a leader at work – I think you have an amazing opportunity to model leading out of who you are and allowing people to see the real you. When you do that it helps others you work with do the same.

If you work in a place where you feel it is a necessity to put on a corporate mask or fit a certain mould – how does this impact you? Sometimes – if we feel we are losing ourselves at work – we need to ask ourselves some tough questions. Is the sacrifice worth it?

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Sarah Abell almost 3 years ago

Wouldn't colleagues judge you if you tell them your inner most secrets?

How about turning that question on its head. Would you judge your colleagues if they told you their inner most secrets?

Again I think it is about finding an appropriate level with the appropriate people. If you go out for lunch with a colleague regularly and have built up a good relationship of reciprocity and you feel the other person can be trusted – sharing some of your story or telling them how you feel about something would probably be quite natural. Telling someone you have only just met at the water cooler all about your difficult childhood on the other hand – could be a little too much too soon. We need discernment and wisdom to know who to trust and with how much.

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Sarah Abell almost 3 years ago

Anna on FB - I'd love to learn how to be ok with saying "No, I'm not fine", "Things are not great, I need some help" instead of what is expected of us "Oh I'm fine", "Everything is going great".

It feels like society does not allow us to be authentic when things are not going well and we are expected to cover it up, pretend and deal with it in private.

Yes – How are you? Is one of the classic questions that people ask and yet don’t seem to want a real answer to.

Part of the issue is that people use it as a courtesy or as an opening bid to conversation a bit like talking about the weather.

I think we need to have wisdom about when people want to hear the truth and when they are just uttering pleasantries.

Try answering with anything but ‘OK’ and ‘Fine’ and see what response you get? Stick to the truth even if you don’t disclose very much. Then if the other person looks interested you can decide to elaborate if they look safe and you are prepared to tell them more.

When you start to dare to bare what is going on in the inside – it gives others around you permission to do the same.

Equally if someone answers ‘OK’ or ‘Fine’ to you and you suspect that that isn’t the whole answer – why not ask them, ‘How are you really?’ But warning – only do that if you are prepared to hear the answer.

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Sarah Abell almost 3 years ago

Thanks for all the questions. I am sorry if I didn't get to yours but feel free to engage on Twitter @nakedhedgehogs

Also there is still time to sign up for the Naked Hedgehogs' Bootcamp, which starts on Monday. The Bootcamp is a 30 day online course where we’ll discover together how to live, love and lead more authentically. Find out more at nakedhedgehogs.com/courses

For less than a cup of coffee a day – you can invest in yourself and your relationships.

Do come and join us – we’d love to see you there.

Go to the profile of Suzy Greaves
Suzy Greaves almost 3 years ago

Thank you so much Sarah for wisdom. Thank you for answering all of our readers' problems. Enlightening!

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Sarah Abell almost 3 years ago

Just leaves me to say "bye".

Be bold, be brave and be yourself!