Monthly Archives: May 2013

Amy’s Baking Company: Sensitivity to Criticism Goes Viral

Last Friday on Fox’s reality TV series “Kitchen Nightmares,” chef Gordon Ramsay paid a visit to “Amy’s Baking Company,” a restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona. Just like he does in every episode, Gordon Ramsay offered his constructive criticism with the intention of improving the restaurant’s success. The restoration process, however, was cut short for the first time in the show’s history because the owners of the restaurant, Amy and Samy Bouzaglo, showed excessive resistance and defensiveness to Ramsay’s signature not-so-sensitive criticism. The two restaurant owners then became a viral hit over the internet because of their continued over-the-top display of oversensitivity to criticism even after the show.

Sensitivity to criticism comes from not feeling good enough as a person.

Amy's Baking Company[ Samy and Amy Bouzaglo, owners of “Amy’s Baking Company” ]

Although the feeling of inadequacy is shared by many people, those who struggle with it the most are obsessives (highly anxious highly sensitive people) who had been starved of healthy affirmation during their childhood. This does not necessarily mean that their parents all have directed much of their criticism toward their children while they were growing up. No. Their parents could have very well been good-hearted, loving people who provided frequent words of affirmation. The question is “when?”

Although it makes sense to give positive affirmation at the onset of good results, affirmation linked only to performance is very unhealthy, especially for obsessive children who think in extremes. This kind of affirmation sets up children to define themselves by how well they perform. In the video, it seems pretty clear to me that Amy defines her self-worth by how well she performs as a chef. When anything less than perfection is delivered, performance-oriented obsessive people hear a voice in their head saying “you are fatally flawed!” When others say, “This could have been better,” they hear, “You are a disgusting human being! On the show, one of the servers asked, “Are you sure?” to Amy. Amy took this simple question as a hostile challenge and equated the experience to someone holding a gun to her head. People who have lived the majority of their life listening to this kind of verbal abuse inside their head are very broken inside.

The choice of words that Amy and Samy use to attack their opposers and “haters” is a reflection of what they constantly hear inside their head. In their mind, Amy and Samy are simply mirroring everyone else’s insensitive communication. It feels to them like the entire world is out to attack them.

It is devastating when one’s identity gets crushed. I can see Amy and Samy desperately trying so hard to fight against the idea that they are not good enough as people. It appears that pride has made its way into their lives to help them cope better with their pain. They have convinced themselves that everyone else is wrong and they alone are the only ones who know how good food tastes.

My heart breaks for Amy and Samy Bouzaglo. I hope they get to discover soon that they are good enough just the way they are, regardless of how well they cook or run a restaurant. I am bothered by the online world’s insensitivity towards them. Rather than leaving these two poor broken people alone, so many people are attacking them for fun, just to get a kick out of their reaction.

Welcome to the new world of online bullying 😦

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Sexuality

According to Dr. Elaine N. Aron, author of “The Highly Sensitive Person,” 15-20% of the world is highly sensitive. This minority group senses stimuli from within themselves and in their surroundings much more intensely than the rest of the world does. They also experience thoughts and feelings that are very different from those of others.

Throughout my blog, I have written about various types of highly sensitive people (not just people with OCPD) and the different ways in which they experience the world. I have written about those who feel very different emotions that most people do not feel, those who think very different thoughts that most people do not think of, and even those who see and hear very different things that most people do not see or hear. After reading over the stats of my blog and seeing the interesting terms that my curious visitors plug into their search engines to find my site, I felt inspired to write about another aspect of high sensitivity.

Some highly sensitive people not only experience sexual thoughts and feelings much more intensely than other people do, but they also experience sexual thoughts and feelings that might be very different from those of others.

Sexuality

Highly sensitive people do not conveniently choose what stimuli enter their senses. Sometimes what enters is overwhelming, disturbing, or very different. This just comes with the territory of being highly sensitive. It is quite normal for highly sensitive people to experience sexual thoughts and feelings that are different from those of others.

When highly sensitive children experience their different thoughts and feelings (whether they may be sexual, emotional, imaginational, intellectual, spiritual, sensual, etc.), what they need to hear is, “I acknowledge and validate your thoughts and feelings, child. They are real. They come as a result of your heightened sensitivity.” Unfortunately, most of the highly sensitive population grow up being told that their thoughts and feelings are wrong.

But just because their inner experiences are real does not necessarily make it a good idea to give highly sensitive children complete freedom to follow all of their thoughts and feelings. Boundaries can help protect highly sensitive children from going too far down a path that ends with more pain and stress. For children with OCD, their thoughts of catastrophic events are real to them and they feel the immediate need to prevent those events from ever happening. When they are left alone without any boundaries, many of them go ahead with their preventative measures which, overtime, become compulsions that are extremely difficult to break later on.

Sexuality is one of those areas that many children are left without any boundaries. But do boundaries even need to be set in this area? Unlike the OCD example I have given above, no one can really argue that any path in sexuality, whether it be heterosexuality, homosexuality, or other, ends with more pain and stress. There are happy same-sex couples and there are people like Erika Eiffel who are married to objects. But one thing for sure is that most highly sensitive children are not fully aware of what really happens in their brain when they repeatedly act out on their sexual thoughts and feelings. They do not know what they are getting themselves into.

Sexual attraction works like a compulsion. After repeatedly acting out on sexual thoughts and feelings, the body and mind begin to automatically produce all the chemicals related to mating whenever the object of sexual attraction is present. The person that it affects feels like he or she has very little control over how he or she feels. This applies to heterosexuality, homosexuality, and other sexual preferences. If people ever want to develop sexual attraction for something different down the road, while it will be very difficult, it is not impossible. It is a matter of consistently accessing different neural pathways in the brain by behaving and thinking differently (read more on neuroplasticity). But since old neural pathways, even the ones that are not accessed any longer, still remain inside the brain, past sexual attraction cannot be completely erased. It always just sits there. There is no “cure.” But that does not mean change is impossible.

Sexuality does not always begin with the presence of sexual thoughts and feelings. Sometimes it is the absence of sexual thoughts and feelings that causes highly sensitive people to explore their sexuality. Highly sensitive people do have a tendency to place more meaning in the lack or absence of expected thoughts and feelings.

Finally, I would like to end off with a fun video clip by College Humor:

Did you notice how many of the stereotypes used in this clip also relate to high sensitivity? The focus on details, empathy, etc.

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