• Little Symphony

How I learned to like cilantro

I made the conscious decision to expose myself to it.

We all know someone who hates cilantro. Most of us have heard how people can be genetically predisposed to dislike cilantro. To them it tastes like soap.

I was one of these people – I hated cilantro. And it affected me. I frequently found myself avoiding dishes that contain cilantro, including those from my favourite cuisines, i.e., Indian, Thai, Mexican.

My distaste for cilantro also affected others. If fresh salsa was being made by a friend, I would request that it be made without cilantro. And I felt that these requests were justified; surely they don’t like cilantro as much as I dislike it.

It’s not just cilantro, either. I’m sure you can easily think of a few things or people you dislike. Perhaps you’re an introvert like me, and can’t stand being in loud places for too long. Or maybe you’re like I was, and you’re just not a cat person. Ask anyone who knows me – five years ago I would have used the word hate to describe how I feel about cats. I happily have two cats now, fyi. Here's my favourite photo of Vincent.

I’m more of a dog person, I would say. Maybe it was my cat allergies, or bad experiences with cats I had as a child. And perhaps there was a real intuitive disliking towards cats, but one thing is for certain..

I avoided cats, and I never made an effort to understand why people love them so much.


Changing the way you feel about something often comes down to a this principle – the mere-exposure effect. Exposure can be a powerful tool – by exposing yourself to things you don't like, you can learn to like them. This is how I learned to like cilantro and love cats (full disclosure: I still don't like clubs, but I'm generally okay with that).

Here's my cilantro-exposure rule: anytime cilantro is an option, I take extra. Admittedly, this made for some soapy mouthfuls at first. But after a while, I actually started to like it!

After seeing how powerful exposure was for me, I had the following thought:

What if having a predisposition towards something and disliking it are two different things? What if disliking something is a choice?

All those years of avoiding cilantro – that was a choice. It didn't feel like a choice at the time. But even though it wasn't a conscious decision, it was still a decision.


I guess what I’m trying to say is that when you make the decision to continue disliking something or someone, you rob yourself and others of the opportunity to find happiness and joy wherever possible.

Dream with me for a moment..

Imagine that the things, people, and social situations you dislike magically became enjoyable, or at least tolerable.

What would this change for you?

I encourage you to wipe the dust off that journal you've been meaning to use, relax to some Little Symphony, and write down a few things you would like to learn to like. Think about how you can use exposure to learn to like them. Let me know below about something you want to like but don't. How would liking this thing change your life?

As always, thank you so much for reading. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my ideas with the world, and I hope you find them useful.


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