Helping you become all that you are capable of becoming!



Handling Blocks to Anger

Chapter 2: Handling Blocks to Anger

Tools for Anger Work-Out

By: James J. Messina, Ph.D.


What happens when anger is blocked?

When my anger is blocked I:

  • feel depressed and don't know why I'm so down.
  • cry easily, even uncontrollably at times for no apparent reason.
  • feel sad.
  • find myself being chronically hostile, pessimistic, or unfriendly.
  • can be very sarcastic, caustic, or cynical.
  • find myself going in circles in regard to personal growth, with little hope for success in the future.
  • deny that I even have anger.
  • resent suggestions from others to work on my anger.
  • am confused by what others describe as anger in their lives.
  • refuse to accept that anger is an important tool for personal growth.
  • joke about the value of anger in my life.
  • resist those things that make me feel uncomfortable or ill at ease.
  • experience physical distress.
  • feel exhausted, weak, lethargic, or disinterested in life.
  • am afraid of anger expressed in my presence.

What are blocks to anger?

Blocks to anger can be varied, including :


Fear of rejection: Fear that if I express anger I will be rejected by others.


Need for approval: Wanting the approval and recognition from others so much so that I hesitate to ever show my anger around them.


Intimidation: Giving others power over me so great that I fear showing my anger in front of them, lest they get mad and make me pay a costly negative consequence.


Not knowing what normal is: Never having experienced a normal life where anger was expressed in a healthy way inhibits not only my expression of anger but my recognition of it.


Need to keep the peace: Being compulsively driven to placate and appease others, I am never free enough to express my feelings of honest anger.


Desire to please others: Wanting to keep others happy, pleased and relaxed with me, I choose to avoid the expression of anger around them.


Dependency on others: Looking to others for approval and personal fulfillment, I suppress, ignore, and overlook any anger that arises in me as a result of the relationship.


Fear of going crazy: Believing that once I start expressing my anger I'd never stop, consequently I'd be out of control and labeled insane.


Need for control: Believing that all emotions must be continuously kept in check leads me to ignore, avoid, or overlook any anger that I or others in my life are experiencing.


Belief that anger is bad: Since I believe that all expressions of anger are bad, wrong, undesirable, and unhealthy, I believe that the way to be healthy is never to allow myself to get angry.


Naiveté or lack of knowledge: Being sheltered, ignored, pampered, spoiled, or overly coddled can protect me from anger in my life, leading me to believe innocently that there is never a reason to get angry.


Guilt: Feeling such severe guilt, remorse, and self-denigration for past expressions of anger inhibits me from identifying, expressing, or experiencing current anger.


Depression: Experiencing a flat affect, lack of interest in life, lack of enthusiasm, or energy, or constant sadness can dull my emotional response to life, leaving me unable to experience or express authentic anger.


Pollyanna outlook on life: Wanting only to look at or remember the bright or happy side inhibits me from tuning into the realities of life, past or present, that deserve my anger.


Fear of conflict or confrontation: Recognizing that if I express my anger, I open myself up for others to disagree with, criticize, or confront me with their anger.


Desire to be a good role model: Believing that anger is unhealthy for our children, subordinates, or work colleagues I choose never to express anger in their presence.


Need to entertain or be humorous: Always wanting to keep others from focusing on the negative aspects of reality leads me to ignore, inhibit, or fail to experience anger.


Lack of clarity about what is authentic anger: Always second guessing whether or not my feelings of anger are valid will eventually leave me in an anger vacuum


Feeling ridiculous: Considering anger work-out exercises to be silly, foolish, or childish will result in my inability to experience the true emotion of anger and its cathartic release during these therapeutic work-out sessions.


Overuse of medication: By addictive drinking, drug use, sex, gambling, food intake, shopping, etc., I can so medicate my emotional response to life that I am unable to recognize or experience authentic anger.

Why would anyone be unable to express anger (block anger)?Anger blocks are developed in many ways, including:
  • living in a dysfunctional family of origin.
  • being the codependent of a troubled person, one addicted to alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, sex, etc.
  • experiencing a traumatic life event perceived as being caused by the expression of anger.
  • getting no positive response to my past expressions of anger.
  • the resistance to change in life.
  • the unwillingness to be open to alternative modes of expressing feelings.
  • a lack of desire to become vulnerable and unmask anger for what it really is.
  • insecurity in my life, in my relationships, in my family, or at work.
  • a lack of trust that others will accept me the way I really am.
  • a sense of inferiority:
  • my feelings are not important;
  • I don't deserve to express negative feelings;
  • I can't say how I feel if I want to be accepted;
  • I really never know how I feel anyway.


How can blocks to anger be overcome?

Blocks to anger can be overcome by:
  • Self-confrontation as to how I am feeling about the negative aspects of my past and current life.
  • giving myself permission to take the risk of making a fool of myself by participating in anger work-out activities.
  • keeping a daily log of my feelings including how my day has been, and recording the negative aspects and my feelings about each one.
  • role playing an angry confrontation in a caring environment with my support group.
  • yelling at the top of my lungs to loosen up emotional expression whenever I'm driving.
  • learning to be assertive.
  • expressing my negative feelings appropriately to the others in my life.
  • working on my self-esteem and self-worth so that I believe it is OK for me to be angry.
  • redefining anger as a necessary tool for my personal growth and improved mental health.
  • accepting that anger is a necessary step in grieving and accepting the losses in my life.
  • reminding myself that I deserve the benefits of the expression and resolution of authentic anger. 
What steps can be used to overcome blocks to anger?


Step 1: I need to review the opening section of this chapter and then answer the following questions in my journal:

  • How often is my anger blocked?
  • How is my experience of past anger different from my experience of current anger? Is one blocked more than the other? Why?
  • How would my life be different if my anger were no longer blocked?
  • How is overcoming blocked anger important to my happiness?
  • How do I feel about dealing with blocked anger?
  • How free do I feel to pursue overcoming the blocks to my anger? What is holding me back?


Step 2: After exploring the results of blocked anger, I need to review the twenty blocks to anger in this chapter and answer these questions in my journal:

  • What blocks exist for my past anger?
  • What blocks exist for my current anger?
  • Are the blocks identified in the previous 2 questions the same? Different?
  • If the same: Why and what does this tell me about my personality?
  • If different: Why and what happened in my life to change the way I deal with anger?
  • Which blocks to my anger could be overcome? Which ones seem impossible to overcome?
  • How willing am I to work at overcoming the difficult or seemingly impossible blocks to my anger?


Step 3: After identifying my blocks to anger, I am ready to speculate on how these blocks came into existence. I will answer the following questions in my journal:

  • How was anger dealt with in my family of origin? How did this affect my own expression of anger?
  • How does my behavioral style, developed in my family of origin, influence the way I handle anger? Which blocks to anger are characteristics of my personality style?
  • How have my relationships with troubled persons affected the way I handle anger?
  • How have negative experiences with the expression of anger in the past influenced how I handle anger now?
  • What would happen to my relationships if my blocks to anger disappeared? Example: family members, peers, professional associates, loved ones.
  • What are my greatest fears about unblocking my anger? How do these fears hold me back? How do they keep my anger blocked?



Step 4: Having recognized the sources of my blocks to anger, I am now ready to develop a plan of action to unblock my anger.

Outline for Unblocking Anger
  • Blocks to my anger include:
  • To unblock my anger daily I will:
  • The following support people will help me unblock my anger:
  • My efforts to unblock my anger will be recorded in my journal daily.
  • To measure my success in unblocking my anger I will make the following changes in my personal habits, emotions, and activities:


Step 5: If my anger is still blocked, I will go back to Step 1, and begin again.