Elena Brower Punished Herself for Getting Angry? /// Open Letter to Elena Brower

replica

“Ouch. Do it again.”

I don’t really keep up with Elena Brower’s life too much, and so I’m not sure if this subject remains current, but the other day a Babs came acros this 2011 post by Elena, which discusses her apparent anger issues. Now, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t suffer from time to time from the great red beast, but what really struck me about Elena’s handling of her anger, was her use of punitive measures.

From the article:

“At first, [my coach and I] designed a consequence of money: each episode of my temper with my kid cost five bucks, then fifty bucks.Then we chose the consequence of a can of Red Bull for each incidence of temper (I eat kale twice a day, so Red Bull, with all due respect to the Red Bull lovers, is straight-up punitive). Each of these consequences did slow me down, to be sure, but the anger wasn’t gone.”

But, Elena was eventually instructed to quit the punitive consequences and replace them with embarrassing ones, which, by the way, remains punitive.

“Every time I have a strong outburst with my son, I have to explain what I’m about to do, and then sing the below song to the nearest adult stranger, with him present. It’s happened twice in a few weeks, and yes, it’s funny, but more importantly, my temper is losing steam because I know as soon as I feel the burn that I’m going to have to sing to a stranger.”

And, sing what exactly?

“Oh I wish I was a less angry mama / That is what I’d truly love to be / And someday I will be less angry / ‘Cause this song is gonna take it outta me.”

You can listen to the song here.

Can you imagine walking down the street with your kid, when some skinny white chick comes up to you and starts singing this shiz? Now you’ve got two kids who are totally traumatized—the kid who’s mom is singing the song, and the other kid who’s looking up at his mom with teary eyes asking “Why is the crazy lady singing at me mama?”

danny

redrum

Elena, baby. We need to talk.

Listen. Anger is an emotion. I know some people want to believe that it’s a dangerous one, or that it is somehow low on the emotional totem pole. But, really it’s just an irrational response to stimuli. There was a time when I was head high in the teachings of a particular Western teacher who believed that anger was, in and of itself, cancerous. In some sense this is true. But, in actuality, it’s not the feeling of anger that is cancerous, but our inability to step outside it, to witness it, that eats away at our being.

Anger, like any feeling, is an opportunity to investigate the self and how we’ve consciously or subconsciously constructed this self and taught it to behave. See it, and other rebellious emotions, as doors, entry points, and opportunities. Don’t shun them. They’re ripe for investigation!

Track emotions is like exploring unground caves. You'll know it's working when you immediately start crying or laughing for (seemingly) no reason at all.

Tracking emotions is like exploring underground caves. You’ll know it’s working when you immediately start crying or laughing for (seemingly) no reason at all.

For example, when I get angry, I need to first know that I am angry. Then, from there, I can try and locate that anger in my body.

Hmmm…. I think it’s in my chest. Also, a little bit on the back of my neck. It feels hot there. Like someone poured hot pepper just below my hairline.

Then, I trace the anger as far back to its emotional source as I can, allowing myself the freedom to be honest about where this may lead me.

I started to get angry when my kid dropped his ice cream on line at the bank. If I think about it, my initial feeling was actually embarrassment, because that’s how my mom made me feel when I made a mistake in public. I hated feeling embarrassed as a kid. And, now I hate feeling embarrassed by my kid. My embarrassment, and the way my mother made me feel, makes me angry.

And, wouldn’t you know it, now you can see that your “anger” isn’t really anger at all, but rather an angry-textured veil protecting you from feeling embarrassment.

See where I’m headed with this?

Were I to simply sing my anger away, I’d have no opportunity to grab hold of the rope of anger and spelunker my way into its depths, essentially disempowering myself through willful ignorance. In effect, I would become less intelligent of my own self were I to sing away my feelings.

So, stop being so hard on yourself, girl. Children can be total bastards—little shits seemingly put on this planet to destroy all that is good in adults. And, yet, aren’t they unbelievably spectacular? They contain the entirety of the universe, and with that the ability to make anyone who’s near them at their worst want to claw out of their own eyeballs. It’s cool. Talk to your kid about anger, and don’t let him deny or judge it. He’ll thank you later in life when every girl (or boy) in town wants to do him ’cause they’ll think he’s so super grounded, understanding, and sincere. He’ll be like a big sexy ox and have you to thank (who will, in turn, have us to thank).

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25 comments

  1. Garuda

    When I get stuck behind some douche at a green light as he or she decides to continue texting instead of operating their motor vehicle, I very simply count to 5, then I lay on the horn as a very loving reminder that the public roadway is not their private phone booth for mental masturbation. Anger is what it is, directed energy. If you want to kink your hose and hold it in, well, good luck with that. EB can project her crap out there as long as there is an audience for it. I say embrace your anger and direct it exactly where it belongs. On the Kid’s soccer referee.

    • Thaddeus

      Just to expound on your point a bit Garuda…I’ve often thought that if it were socially acceptable to pull people from their cars, or simply walk up to their window, and beat them senseless for their inconsiderate, mindless, unaware and impolite behavior while driving that after a few years had passed (or at least enough time for each guilty person to receive a sufficient number of beatings), that we would have a far more enlightened society.

  2. gross

    wow, that is just creepy and weird. she has to handle it b/c she’s part of the Handel Group.

  3. Captain Awkward had a fantastic post on “How to Train your Rageasaurus” a few months ago. Far, far more helpful than singing out loud in front of your kid and forever traumatizing them.

    http://captainawkward.com/2012/11/07/391-how-to-train-your-rageasaurus/

  4. Linda

    Inhale 2,3,4…..Exhale 2,3,4

    If a woman came up to me on the street and wanted to sing that song I’d be calling child protective services before she got to the second verse. Talk about a major whack job.

    Wasn’t EB one of John Friend’s melty heart crowd? That explains a lot….

  5. Chai Fan

    That is right out of bizarro world parenting. And if she wasn’t making it all about her and herself (which she is), she’d realize its more embarrassing to to her kid then to herself. Poor kid..

    • Chai Fan

      Its like she lives in a movie in which people don’t act like that in real life…

    • Greenpoint

      that’s right, she pretends that the “actions” she takes are done with those around her in mind, when in reality it’s all about EB and her bizarre ego….look at me! look at me! look how amaziningly concerned and aware of what a strange person I am!

  6. Emily

    Oy. I cannot believe this woman is acting as anyone’s “life coach.” It must be a giant circle jerk over there! That kid’s gonna need a LOT of therapy…

    • silki

      um, i think she’s pretty standard fare as far as “life coaches” go. did you see her huffpo bit on how being a life coach is a lot like yoga? speak for yourself, Elena. lordy.

      [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elena-brower/life-coaching-and-yoga_b_980103.html]

  7. gross

    i feel bad for her son’s girlfriend when he gets one.

  8. Yoga_Dude

    People will pay a pro-dom good money to get humiliated like that. I am glad she can save the money by doing it herself.

  9. The P

    Of course, these are not true “consequences” (Handel Life Coaching term) but punishments or negative reinforcements as a form of behavioral modification. As you point out, it’s all “slash and stick” without any examination of the source of the maladaptive/unwanted behavior. I’ve witnesses EB talk about her anger issues for years now, steadily applying the Handel consequences and here we are years later and the unwanted behavior is still persistent (although perhaps less frequently or less intense?). But clearly this method is not sufficient to address the problem which is not merely behavioral. Better to get a good therapist and not someone you are in a business relationship with.

  10. Hold on…a can of Red Bull as a consequence to remind you to slow down and not be a Rageasaurus? How does that even work? Red Bull is Rageasaurus in a can. Btw, Babs, love your metaphor of noticing anger, grabbing its rope, and spelunking into its depths. And an “angry-textured veil”…great stuff!

  11. Itstrue

    Babs, you have a really deep and thorough understanding of anger. I like your perspective. I learned something today. So thank you. And Elena???? I wish she would respond cause her teaching sounds insane!

    • silki

      I mostly agree, though I don’t think that anger is always an irrational response to stimuli. Sometimes it is very rational. Feeling the anger is key. It passes. Exploration can be excellent too, but can be wanky and a distraction from actually feeling it some (say, me). Acting on it is another matter. Repressing it is maybe worse, as it pops up later, uglier, meaner.

      Thank you for this. I’ve been thinking about anger lately and reading some dumb stuff yogapeopleonline have to say about it. Even when it’s “not bad just an emotion” the subtext is that it’s very bad. Perhaps people have a problem separating feeling and acting. Not a surprise these days, I suppose.

  12. Wondering

    Her endless shallow soul searching is absurd. What’s she so angry about anyway? not enough money, can’t find a job, getting kicked out of her apartment, medical bills, can’t feed her family, or could it be…not enough attention? Isn’t she the same goofy yoga celeb. Who did a whole story about her guilt with cigarette smoking? Is she that unaware of her lot in life compared to the vast majority of struggling people in the world? The woman needs some perspective, and to get over herself.

    • Itstrue

      I couldn’t agree with you more. I think there is some serious narcissism going on with her self confessions. It’s truly weird. Its also saturated with white princess problems. Argh makes me so angry! I wish I was a less angry yogi…..

  13. giggity

    Ewwwwwwwwwwwwww. She just canNOT get enough of herself. I’ll never forget the time she said – and let me see if I get it right – “This consequence [throwing money out the window] so far has cost me $600…but think of the thousands of dollars it is saving me in therapy for my son when he grows up!” Ummmmm, Elena baby, If you’re not careful it will be TENS of thousands. And he’s already going to go to therapy, there’s no doubt about that one. Ewwww…….

  14. giggity

    Oh yeah and how could I forget how hypocritical EB is when one day she’s throwing money out the window as her consequence and the next day she’s justifying her new “Beauty Ecologist” business by saying “Teaching yoga only with no other source of income is unsustainable.” Really? Then how can you so freely throw money out the window?? Elena, baby, get your message straight. People are listening. And watching.

    • Emily

      Wow. I just went to the web site for this company, and it’s like an organic Mary Kay. If she’s shilling for them and shilling for life coaching because yoga teaching (and owning a studio, doing conferences, being a “star”) isn’t paying the bills, maybe it’s time to put this tired idea of making a living from yoga to bed?

  15. novecho

    beauty ecologist? I’d sign up for that intensive!

  16. Pingback: Navigating The Bullfighting Ring: Learning to ACT And Not REACT | Lila

  17. Pingback: neurotic thoughts. unmanageable emotions. yoga. – CoccoYoga

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