Thank you for asking for more on the subject of being Real. I must say, it’s nice when I’m given the topic to write about!
The specific requests I received were in regard to the 12 Velveteen Principles, along with the question, “What do you do when you find yourself about to be un-Real?” (I hope I captured that correctly…I received several similar questions, and this one seemed to act as an umbrella for all.)
Here is a list of the 12 Principles, as stated in The Velveteen Principles, by Toni Raiten-D’Antonio. Provided is a blurb for each, but I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book if you’re interested in learning more.
The 12 Velveteen Principles
Velveteen Principle #1: Real is Possible
- what is Real waits inside; we are born Real
Velveteen Principle #2 : Real is a Process
- the author provides four examples of themes we often employ to discover our Real nature, although there are many more. Here are the ones she lists:
- Close relationships make us feel more Real – we are social beings
- Work that matters makes us feel more Real – it’s not all about money
- Creativity and growth make us feel Real – seen through how you express yourself
- Teaching, nurturing, and caring for others makes us feel Real – taking the focus off of self, and placing it on others
Velveteen Principle #3 : Real is Emotional
- understanding, acknowledging, and expressing how we feel
Velveteen Principle #4 : Real is Empathetic
- the ability to really hear another person’s point of view
Velveteen Principle #5 : Real is Courageous
- acknowledge your fears and move forward, even if you’re still afraid
Velveteen Principle #6 : Real is Honest
- the key here involves self honesty
Velveteen Principle #7 : Real is Generous
- an expression of goodwill, coupled with encouragement
Velveteen Principle #8 : Real is Grateful
- a sense of awareness and appreciation
- “the practice of gratitude becomes the antidote to worry”
Velveteen Principle #9 : Real Can Be Painful
- often we become self-critical and do what I call, “should-ing” all over ourselves: I should lose weight, I should work more, I should, I should…. Although ‘should-ing on yourself’ doesn’t sound good on the surface, it can often serve as an accurate reminder of the obstacles that lie between you and the Real life you’re striving for.
Velveteen Principle #10 : Real is Flexible
- the ability to adapt to change and learn from your mistakes
Velveteen Principle #11 : Real Love Endures
- “when two Real people discover each other, there is absolutely nothing generic about their relationship”
Velveteen Principle #12 : Real is Ethical
- “Real people don’t expect agreement everywhere; Real embraces differences, even uncomfortable ones”
And as for the question, “What do you do when you find yourself about to be un-Real?” Interestingly enough, I was also asked this at the weekend retreat. My answer then (and now), is that first, I give it a few attempts to feel right. If, after a few interactions with a particular person, I still feel slightly uncomfortable showing up as completely me, rather than allowing myself to become un-Real, I limit my time with the person. I’ll either cut the conversation short or won’t seek out their company in the future. By limiting contact, I’m able to maintain my ‘real-ness’ and not feel compromised. I’m sure there are other, and probably better ways to handle it, but I also realize that not everyone wants, or seeks out, real interactions. Some folks much prefer the surface-y stuff and anything else would be too much of a bother. And that’s okay with me; what I give them is still the real me, it’s just an abbreviated version. I save the good stuff for those who want it.
Feel free to share how you would respond to that question; I’m interested to know.
In closing, here are a few of my favorite soundbites from The Velveteen Principles:
“It [the children’s classic, The Velveteen Rabbit] reminds us of basic truths about our heartfelt longings. We all hope to live through life’s challenges and grow beautiful and valuable and loved for what we are on the inside, for our Real selves.” (p. xii of introduction)
“Whenever we struggle to comprehend another person’s behavior, especially when we feel hurt by someone we love, the key to understanding lies in that person’s intent, not the outcome.” (p. 82)
“If you truly believe there is honor and value in trying your best, and risking failure, then you profit even if you don’t reach your goal.” (p. 98)
“It’s not stuff or power or achievement, but rather a sense that you are using your time on Earth well, that you are connected to others and that your life matters.” (p. 185)