Using familiarity to your advantage

When we say “I like Mexican food” and “I dislike Chinese food” what we’re really saying is “I’m familiar with Mexican food and I’m not familiar with Chinese food.”

Familiarity is often what we mean when we indicate preferences.

Knowing this, if there’s something that you don’t like that you think might be beneficial to like, you can engineer your own liking by simply taking the time to become familiar with whatever it is that you are unfamiliar.

For example, if a loved one likes Chinese food and you hate it, you could acknowledge that your dispassion is due potentially to a lack of familiarity and if so, you could take the time to become familiar. Exposing yourself over many weeks and months to the occasional Chinese meal.

Before you know it, you will likely like Chinese food simply because you’re familiar with it, and you’ve had the opportunity to establish some preferences based on that familiarity.

Now, you no longer have to feel alienated when a loved one wants to get Chinese food for dinner.

If you extend this logic to other realms you might find there are other things you’d like to like, and likewise, familiarity may be all that’s stopping you.

I grew up wearing whatever clothes I wanted to wear. This often entails jeans and a t-shirt. Even to this day I like these because they hark back to my childhood, they’re something I’m deeply familiar with.

There are occasions where it’s nice to dress up a bit, for many years that’s something I despised. I didn’t like to dress up for fancy dinners, I felt offended, unnecessarily. In time, I’ve found some nice clothes that I like and I’ve taken the time to wear it frequently enough to grow comfortable in it. And now, oddly, I like wearing a polished pair of dress shoes as much as my raggedy sneakers.

That means when the opportunity arises to attend a formal event, I’m happy wearing something aside from jeans, sneakers and a t-shirt.

And all it took was simply taking the time to become familiar with the unknown.

Of course, it’s important that you’re not selling out in becoming familiar with things that compromise your integrity as a person. Aside from that, taking the time to do something to become familiar with it, and thus learn to like it, can be a healthy pursuit.

If you would’ve asked me 10 years ago if I was a cat or a dog person, I would’ve said I’m a cat person. Now, I like both. Four years ago a very special dog came into my life, her name is Pax. It didn’t take long to learn to like dogs. And what a wonderful experience, a dog’s love and loyalty are truly something special.