How do you experience the difference between identity-related anger and non-identity related anger?
Anger stemming from identity masks a suffering that I want to avoid feeling. It’s an ego strategy. By putting the anger aside and regaining humility within myself, I can access and feel the necessary suffering.
Divine anger is a pure energy, without emotion, without personal interest, that emerges in the present moment. It is a manifestation of love, an energy of compassion.
The anger stemming from identity is “dark,” mixed with embarrassment, resentment, and a focus on what seems unjust and a great deal of tension for the whole person on this point. The anger arising from non-identity is “clear”, direct, frank, sometimes a little theatrical, and laughter is not far off.
The anger that comes from identity is devastating (even if it is a “little” anger) and I feel it taking everything away, leaving me trembling. I would go so far as to say that I feel it in my blood…. In fact, don’t we say: “I saw red”?
The anger stemming from non-identity leaves no trace, even though it may seem violent from the outside. It leaves no trace in me and I have the impression that it leaves no trace in the person to whom it is directed.
I distinguish anger stemming from identity by internal considerations upstream, or resonance with an emotional charge in the background, in response to an attempt at control on the part of the other, perhaps more particularly in the case of attempts at humiliation or accusation, reproach.
Anger arising from non-identity is for me something that fuses spontaneously, in an absence of doubt and internal impact.
I have very few examples of anger that come to mind. Irritation, yes, and then I just have to accept the suffering necessary for it to disappear. The few rages I can remember had something a bit forced, not fluid, and they left an aftertaste of guilt, of something that wasn’t clean. It was anger that was polluted with identity.
On the other hand, I know I had non-identity anger, but it left no trace. In any case, I can’t remember any context. But it seems to me that they just left a perfume of something natural, in the moment, with even a hint of benevolence, despite the anger expressed.
I have few memories of anger stemming from non-identity, whereas I still have memories of anger stemming from identity, probably because of the impact on my nervous system, the remorse and shame I feel when I evoke these memories and observe the consequences on others. I experienced those angers as destructive, reinforcing my identity mechanisms, and in a way, cancelling out the work of stripping, like the rock of Sisyphus falling inexorably from the mountain…
On the contrary, the anger stemming from non-identity leaves absolutely no trace, and I have a very recent example of this. I didn’t realize right away that I had become angry. It was then, so surprised by my reaction and its consequences, that I coded it as anger.
In a telephone conversation, the person I was talking to said something about other people, and what he said was, in my opinion, completely aberrant. My tone of voice changed, I didn’t shout but I would say I was in a cold rage, and I reframed it very firmly. I was very surprised myself by my intervention, and the fact that my interlocutor didn’t hang up almost surprised me. In fact, not only did he not hang up, but he acquiesced in a rather humble way…. I experienced this as fair and aligned with myself.
I am most familiar with anger stemming from identity, which is most often expressed in the relationship with my son. Identity-related anger leaves its mark on me, there’s a heaviness associated with that anger, because it sets in motion a whole identity dynamic that I have to work on afterwards so as not to let myself be polluted, particularly through guilt or internal dialogue such as “I’m really a piece of shit”! Associated with this type of anger, I also feel shame and remorse. Recently, it has gone far; just after giving in to identity anger, I felt as if I was denying myself internally, as if I was denying life… It was atrocious, and it felt like an electroshock. Following this extreme feeling, I made an existential decision, not to let myself get caught up in it anymore, and to do everything I could to make sure it never happens again.
Lately, I’ve had a very different feeling and I had the impression that anger stems from non-identity. When it happened, it didn’t leave a trace in me, I felt it as “just” anger in the sense that I felt that it didn’t come from an identity reaction, but that this outburst was simply necessary in the context where it emerged. There was no consequence in me, no heaviness, no shame, no guilt, and I was able to return to a normal tone immediately afterwards.
But I do feel that I’m on the edge, that it’s not at all a given, that I have to be extremely vigilant.
In my recent past, I do not see any anger expressed, but only irritations that I have transformed by welcoming the necessary suffering. In my older past, I perceive anger as the expression of incompetence, or escape, or attempts to manipulate those around me. Emerging when my personal interest was at stake, as a protective bulwark not to question myself or accept what the event or the other sent back to me. Through the expression of anger, I hurt the other to avoid being hurt myself.
I would say that non-identified anger appears to me as not being motivated by incompetence in managing a relationship, nor a flight, nor an attempt at manipulation; it is factual, appears in the moment, is triggered by the context, it occurs as if to restore a balance, to awaken, to make someone aware of their behavior for example. It does not leave any trauma in the mind or in the feeling.
Angers are less frequent, but often stem from identity: they appear most of the time when listening to political speeches, or when injustice points its nose at the routine of hunger, unemployment, unhealthy housing, wars, etc. Very quickly sadness takes over, because I remember that this anger is sterile, that I forget that life is neither just nor unjust, but that my world is in many ways the image of what I hear and see: judgments, comments, beliefs, criteria “it is just and it is not just,” “I want and I don’t want,” “I love and I don’t love”: separation. There is more and more sadness inside me in superimposition… separation too?
I can hear these same speeches coldly, without comments and without anger so, when I am already in silence and in body attention.
And then there’s the anger that arises when, for example, my husband, at the wheel of the car, doesn’t look at the road because he’s looking for his glasses (he almost led us into the ditch): fear arises, then anger very quickly, I add to it, I accuse.
Anger also when I forget where I left a document… Same observation, if I am already in the silence and in the bodily attention, I remain clean, I simply observe and I reflect, otherwise it is clearly identity anger that appears: I am null, not in the attention, judgment, separation.
Some time ago, I experienced a “cold” anger. As if the core of my being was neutral but an action was being imposed through me in response to a given problem. A very direct and immediate action, charged with a strength, a dynamism that is not at all feverish, but directed straight to the goal. Relentless. It was completely undisturbed by emotion. The action came out of me and I was both the actor and the spectator. No fear of offending, of losing the affection of the person to whom this “anger” was directed.
This is what happened: after a few days’ absence, I went home and found my apartment, which I had left to my daughter and her boyfriend, in an UNBELIEVABLE MESS.
Immediately, the idea comes to me to take some pictures so that there is not the slightest dispute, then I write, coldly, almost surgically, a text message to my daughter. I describe to her very factually what I found when I arrived, my astonishment and even my disappointment. I invoke the trust that I have placed in her and I hold her accountable. The words come out on their own. Everything flows smoothly. I don’t feel any tension or fear, and send the text message. At that moment, I am not sure how she will react, but I know in my heart that this is exactly what I had to do, regardless of the consequences.
I decide not to touch anything and receive her answer shortly afterwards: she’s coming. When she gets to the apartment, she apologizes briefly and starts to tidy up, sweep up, tidy up, and so on. Meanwhile, I go about my business without helping her. No affect “contaminates” this moment. She finishes tidying up, apologizes again, trying to explain her mistake, and then we begin to discuss the past two weeks, in an increasingly serene atmosphere.
I see that she has understood her mistake and that at the same time she is surprised and relieved that everything is going well, without shouts, reproaches, nor tensions… We can then discuss how she got there, in all simplicity.
I don’t know if it’s a case of anger because there was no “outburst” on my part. On the contrary, I felt very centered and confident in my response to this situation. In a way, I felt unshakeable, regardless of my daughter’s behavior: I was ready to come into very cold conflict with her if she had been nonchalant or acting in bad faith. Without fear of losing her affection, or rather with the inner acceptance that this could happen. As if I was in a “right action” mode, welcoming everything that would follow, without in any way letting go of the possible consequences. And with no room for resentment.
The peculiarity of this moment is to note on the one hand the evidence of the right action, lucid, direct and dynamic being put in place, without affect. And the evidence of the neutrality that runs through me. No emotion comes to jostle me internally, so there is no risk that it will trigger rumination, resentment, judgments, etc… I stay clean!
There is a “samurai” side to it: to cut directly, without hesitation, without backing down, while knowing how far to go in the waist 🙂
Unlike my identity anger, where it’s the result that counts more than anything else: winning the conflict! Being right, submitting the other. In my nervousness, feverishness, untimely overflowing and wasting of my energy. In anger and lack of self-control. And with heavy traces remaining in my nervous system for some time. As well as the need to justify myself to others, to be told that I am right, etc…
What I can observe is that the anger stemming from identity is accompanied by certain confusion, fueled in the background by a reference to the time of compiling yesterday, today and tomorrow. Something undigested that arises from an issue (in me) with toxic effects. This confusion invades the head and the body and leaves traces. Concerning anger towards oneself, one can inflict to oneself to flog oneself, or justify oneself with all the good reasons.
The anger stemming from non-identity is accompanied, as far as I am concerned, by a surprise effect; it takes different forms to express itself in the context, it passes through me as when it evaporates the next moment. It doesn’t anticipate itself, it appears in the moment and fades away without trace, it is simply a listening to what goes through us, without any stake in it.
When there is no separation, when we are one, we follow life in the right acceptance of what it offers us to live. We become the observer of what animates us.
Identity anger seeks revenge or vengeance. To attack, making things “right” according to the internal dashboard where wounds are counted. Identity anger wants to even the score.
Non-identity anger is a call to action. Expressed with a functional purpose. It is unattached and does not need to be expressed more than is appropriate to the context. And as soon as it’s over, it disappears and it doesn’t require any effort to change its emotional state.