What About Preferences?

4

Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Psychology, Thought | Posted on 02-08-2017

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[Jill’s Note: If you prefer to listen rather than read, please scroll to the bottom of this post for the audio version.]

In my last blog post, I pondered personal identity and what we think of as our true self. I wrote about how we’re not who we think we are, and that we can’t really define what or who our true self is–because there’s no such thing.

And then I went to Disney World.

On previous visits, I had no interest in trying most of the so-called “thrill rides.” While my husband, oldest daughter and son would enjoy the likes of  the Twilight Zone “Tower of Terror” or the Aerosmith “Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster,” my other daughter and I would focus on the more tame attractions.

But that was “Old Jill.”

So there I was at Disney World for the first time as “New Jill,” knowing that my identity doesn’t define me. Just because I used say (think?) (believe?) I was scared of, or didn’t like certain attractions–was it really true? Or was it simply some made-up ego identity from a previous moment in time?

Was New Jill–who is at least 75% different than Old Jill–still afraid of scary rides?

I knew it was unlikely I’d physically die if I went on them. So what was the worst that could happen?

What if New Jill loved scary rides just as much as she loves vegetables and yoga?

I decided to put it to the test.

First up was the “Tower of Terror.” For those unfamiliar with it, the story is that you’re in some sort of hotel elevator that “malfunctions.” You’re strapped in with a bunch of other people in the dark and suddenly you drop a whole bunch, stop, go up a little, then experience more drops. Eventually, you’re safely back on solid ground. (And usually not splattered into tiny pieces!)

I was fairly calm going in. And was even hoping I might enjoy it. After all, millions of people around the world seemed to think it was the best ride ever (including the very little girl next to us in line!).

However, once the ride did its thing (i.e., jerked me up and down and pulled my stomach up into my mouth) I can honestly say that I didn’t understand the appeal! I wasn’t scared, per se, nor did the ride bother me. But I thought it was just plain weird and certainly not fun.

Yet my fellow passengers seemed to love it…

Click to Enlarge

Next up was the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. I thought I might enjoy this one as I had been on the Mt. Everest Roller Coaster the previous day–twice even! How much different could this be? But when my husband told me as we stood in line that the ride shoots you out of the gate from zero to sixty, I did get a little nervous.

So I entered the car, pulled down my safety bar as far as it could go and braced myself…

BOOM!

I closed my eyes and held on for dear life…

“Holy F’n CRAP!”

All the while thinking, “Really? People like this? What is wrong with them?!!”

Obviously, there were a lot of separate realities happening. My experience appeared to be very different than others’. It was certainly not the same as my husband’s who had a huge smile on his face in his picture.

So what was going on here?

Why wasn’t I (as New Jill) not able to enjoy the experience?

If I was truly NOT my identity then shouldn’t I be able to enjoy anything? Or was liking or disliking thrill rides somehow an exception that was built into our identity from when we’re born?

I can’t say as I have the answer.

So far, all I can come up with is that while our identities are simply labels we put on ourselves, there still seems to exist a little thing called preferences.

Whether innate or learned or a combination, there’s no denying that we seem to prefer certain things over others. This isn’t to say that those preferences can’t and don’t change over time. Mine certainly have. But they do seem to exist.

Which leads me to my next question…

Are our preferences “just thought”?

Intellectually I understand that our preferences have to be made up of Thought just like everything else. And I also know that they are changeable. Perhaps it’s a matter of how strongly we believe in them and whether we truly want them to change.

One thing I’m sure of is that as long as we believe in them, they will affect our likes and dislikes.

While I felt like I was going into those rides open to enjoying them, in looking back, I certainly didn’t have the same mindset as my husband or the little girl in line next to us. They were probably thinking something like, “Yay, I get to go on this awesomely fun ride which I love. I can’t wait to feel all the drops and spins and other super exciting stuff that will happen.”

None of that went through my mind!

As much as I was open to giving the rides a try, if I’m being honest, there was still a big part of me that absolutely couldn’t understand why anyone would like them.

And so that’s exactly the experience I had.

Could my mindset about this change one day? While it doesn’t feel like it right now, it has to be possible. Yet at the moment, I think I’m fine with this particular preference. I’m proud of myself for giving them a try, but you likely won’t see me on either of them again.

That said, I will continue to give new and different rides and experiences that I encounter a chance. Perhaps I’ll end up liking one, perhaps not. But even going on them in the first place is in itself a big change from the old me!

How about you? Do you have preferences that have changed? Let me know below!

–Jill

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Jill is the author of Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety


Jill personally mentors individuals, coaches, small business owners, leaders, groups and organizations to help them uncover their natural well-being and happiness so that they can operate from a clearer state of mind. This in turn has the ability to take their lives and businesses to a higher level.


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I had a similar experience withhe roller coaster around the NY NY hotel in Las Vegas. I’d made a deal with my partner – he’d go on a small (very) plane from LA to Las Vegas and I’d go in the roller coaster.
He survived the plane journey, so now it was time for me to go on the ride! I was petrified and moments from backing out – but I didn’t.
I got on the ride and realised I had a choice – close my eyes and tense every muscle in my body , hold on, sit back and open my eyes and enjoy it!
Guess what? I loved it!
However my preference would not be to go on anything that just dropped down from a great height – this week!

Too funny, Fenella. The beauty of being open…ya just never know!

I remembered watching a video where George Pransky said something to the effect that he still has preferences – he just doesn’t pay that much attention to them anymore! I tried to find it but I couldn’t. However, I did find this blog post from Michael Neill about liking everything we do: https://www.michaelneill.org/cfts1035/

Kudos to you, Jill, for going on that ride! But you’re right, I don’t think that’s something you have to keep doing!

Thanks Lorraine! Yeah I am trying to do things that I wouldn’t normally do, cuz you never know, right? 🙂