Anaïs Nin | How We See

Anaïs Nin | How We See

Anaïs Nin

(1903 – 1977)

Anaïs Nin was a French-Cuban author who became famous for her personal diaries, which spanned 60 years and gave fresh insights into the many famous people she knew. Her writing was embraced by early feminists who admired her independent, free-living lifestyle at a time (nearly 100 years ago) when women had their roles limited by society.

Nin was born in France to an artistic family; her father was a composer and pianist living in Cuba and her mother a classically trained singer. Moving to the United States when her parents separated, Nin abandoned formal schooling at age 16 to become a dancer and model. Although mostly self-taught, her writings (ranging from her diaries to analyses of literature and erotic fiction) continue to be widely read and studied.

Anaïs Nin | How We See

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

“We see things as we are.” What does that mean?

Well, let us start with what we “are.”

What we are is what we believe. Our beliefs interpret things, events and people, and give them meaning. Our interpretations or judgments are driven by our beliefs and, in particular, by our personal values – the things we consider to be important in our lives.

If you believe fashion is the most important thing in life, then you see people from the context of their fashion choices and your beliefs about what constitutes good fashion. If you believe attaining wealth is the most important thing in life, then you look at opportunities in the context of how much money you can “make” from them. If you believe that football is life (and I can hear some of you saying, “Who doesn’t?”), then playing or watching football and cheering for your chosen team is a big part of your life – and doing that, to the exclusion of other activities, is an obvious choice for you.

It is as though you are wearing glasses, where the lenses are your core values through which you see (interpret) the world.

If we understand that each person has a different set of beliefs, and that therefore different people experience the same things and events completely differently, we gain a deeper understanding of other people. In addition, when we understand that how we view things is based on our beliefs, this can open us to examining our core beliefs and, maybe, choosing to adjust our priorities.

Throughout life, our experiences change us, and change our perceptions. Meeting someone and falling in love, the birth of a child or a grandchild, starting a business or connecting to a charity – these and many other things can alter our personal values and our priorities in an instant.

If you want to know what your personal values are, examine where you spend your time and money. You may then wish to examine these choices and see if they serve you well.

We all see the world from our own perspectives, but we have power over those perspectives.

Anaïs Nin | In Her Own Words

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.

Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.

How wrong is it for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself?

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.

Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.

Do not seek the because – in love there is no because, no reason, no explanation, no solutions.

You don’t find love, it finds you. It’s got a little bit to do with destiny, fate, and what’s written in the stars.


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