• W. Austin Gardner

Hurting people hurt people



German poet Herman Hesse wrote, “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.” I agree with his viewpoint. When hurting people lash out, it is in response to what’s happening inside them more than what’s happening around them. They feel or believe something negative within themselves. The problem is that people who don’t believe in themselves will never succeed, and they will also keep those around them from succeeding.


Hurting people overreact, overexaggerate, and overprotect. They also overinfluence. By that I mean they control the relationship.


Healthy people are . . .

more willing to change.

more willing to admit failure.

more willing to discuss issues.

more willing to learn from others.

more willing to do something

about the problem.

able to travel light.

Hurting people are . . .

less willing to change.

less willing to admit failure.

less willing to discuss issues.

less willing to learn from others.

less willing to do something

about the problem.

carrying a lot of baggage.


Hurting people are going to find offense when none is given. When you know that you’ve done nothing wrong, remember that it’s not what others say about you; it’s what you believe about yourself. You can apologize for their pain and feel compassion for their state, but you should try not to take it personally. That can be difficult—even for a person with a healthy self-image—but it’s worth the effort.


The natural inclination for many people is to meet fire with fire, pain with pain. But striking back at a hurting person is like kicking a man while he’s down. Statesman Sir Francis Bacon said, “This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge keeps his wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well.” If someone lashes out at you, the best thing to do is to forgive him and move on.


John C. Maxwell, Winning with People: Discover the People Principles That Work for You Every Time (Nashville, TN: HarperCollins Leadership, 2007).


Check out the Society of Mentors. This is a meeting of mentors who desire to personally grow while continually impacting others with reaching the world with the gospel.

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