Why Familiarity Rarely Breeds Contempt…
There is an old saying: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Yes, it’s true, familiarity can breed contempt. The longer we are around someone or something, the more inclined we are to find fault with it, but it rarely starts that way.
Every day my friend ‘Debbi’ (changed name) and I would have to stop at the donut shop as we walked to high school and every day I would joke, “You should just get a job here, and then you could have all the donuts you want….” Well, she did get a job there and within two weeks she never wanted to eat another donut! I guess it was too much of a good thing….
‘Debbi’ never wanted to see another donut, so we could say in her case it might have been contempt, yet, in my experience, familiarity doesn’t breed contempt – it breeds indifference.
When indifference festers long enough, it can breed contempt. But indifference can be just as fatal as contempt and often leaves us wondering if we are hallucinating or not…. Contempt is easy to see and feel, indifference isn’t so easy to spot. I’ll share the body language of indifference in my next post….
Indifference is a slow, lingering energy drain.
Whether it’s your donut job, your career, business or a relationship, indifference is a slow, lingering energy drain.
Think about the first time you met someone and fell fast in love. Remember how wonderful it was when you first met. You were captured just by their smile, their laugh, and their presence. It felt wonderful.
The more you shared, the more wonderful it felt. Then one day, it felt as if something changed. Yet, the change is subtle; it’s not that you are upset, have hurt feelings, or are angry or frustrated — it’s just different.
It — the relationship and that once special person — just felt different. You still cared about them, but the thrill, the zip, that special spice was gone… what happened?
Sure, you knew long ago that they have “baggage” and faults. That’s okay, nobody’s perfect. In fact, they have idiosyncrasies that are downright irritating! That’s okay. They were worth it. That’s okay, you said, “Nobody’s perfect, including myself….”
However, what you do notice now is that it’s different and for you, that’s not okay. What is it?
It’s the start of being so familiar with someone or something that they are no longer special. You take them for granted and that’s the beginning of indifference. Now all those once special things are “just them.” It’s expected.
We rarely remember what we expect until we don’t receive what we expected.
No longer do you notice that they always “do that special thing” or that you are “feeling twitterpated” when they hug you. Why don’t we continue to see it as special after a while?
Because a new “bar” has been set and it’s just who they are and what they do — it’s expected! When it’s familiar and expected, it’s not that the familiarity bred contempt; it bred indifference, thoughtlessness, and ungratefulness which in turn breeds the same in your partner.
If left untreated, it will breed contempt, whether it’s a relationship or your career…. Those times when it becomes a bit too expected or predictable are the times that it becomes necessary to think out-of-the-box for a moment and change the routine in a way that will be truly enjoyed.
Think back to your “why.“
If it’s a relationship that’s a bit state or indifferent, why did you choose that relationship? Think back and start by saying “thank you” once again for the little things that do make the other person special — magic just might happen.
If it’s your job, career or business, think back to your “why.” Why did you choose what you do? Seek ways to challenge yourself again, step outside your comfort zone and take on a new opportunity or two. Maybe even network, mentor, or volunteer.
What makes you truly happy always comes from within — not from others. It all comes down to what you choose. Step out of indifference and back into the now to find joy, fun, laughter, and magic.
Commit to putting your heart, head, and soul into each moment and make the choice to live passionately.
Have a wonderful, wonder-filled world whatever your adventures,