key_art_kitchen_nightmaresIn response to a comment about my Top Chef blog entry I want to acknowledge that change is easier said than done. Watching one episode of Chef Gordon Ramsay in Kitchen Nightmares is a clear demonstration of how hard it is to change. Ramsay goes to restaurants on the verge of death and bankruptcy to resuscitate them. In every show I’ve seen the owners are initially thrilled he’s coming to help, then inevitably angry at his new ideas. As an audience member it’s usually clear Gordon’s right and it’s painful to watch the restaurant owner cling to the status quo, take things personally & defend the old ways as wonderful, just not appreciated by customers. I believe this resistance to change is both what makes us endearingly human and keeps us stuck. I think the first bottom line with change is that you have to decide the struggle is worth the work. Instead of taking the easy way out, be open to the hard work of self-awareness. We all always have choices. Even in prison you decide what kind of time you’re going to do. Unfortunately too many people coast and remain oblivious to possibilities. Secondly, shame is a huge obstacle to change. Diluting shame is why Alcoholics Anonymous is such a successful organization. People share their shameful stories which makes the shame more bearable. It is a huge source of healing to feel “I am not alone, I’m surrounded by people with their own big pile of shame.” Gordon Ramsey’s chief mistake in dealing with restaurant owners is that he always adds to their shame. Poor self esteem is part and parcel of shame. In the recent movie The Reader, Kate Winslet plays a character who feels badly about herself and is ashamed (spoiler alert) because of being illiterate. A third reason it is hard to change is trauma. Childhood trauma of verbal, physical or sexual abuse can haunt people. There is a lot of unfinished business from trauma that can linger and interrupt the present. With counseling trauma can evolve into a quiet place within that doesn’t demand so much energy. The fourth reason is denial/selfdeception.The restaurant owner says my menu is unique even though his own wait staff has trouble explaining it to customers. If you decide you want to do the hard work of change it is totally possible to be more of who you want to be. Just don’t expect it to be easy.

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