Do you have a person in your life now (or did) who frequently tells you what’s flawed about you or broken? Do you believe him or her? What might be going on with them, and you?

"Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs." - Pearl Strachan Hurd

I want to share a personal story with you in case you’ve ever experienced something similar or are doing so now.

For a time, I had a person in my life who I knew from the start was there to allow me to learn something. I’m the kind of person who gets along with just about anyone I meet; but this person, I’ll call him Sam, provided an opposite experience. Our communications were sporadic. Sometimes they were interesting or fun, most times they were about his “wounds” or . . . Let’s just say that every several weeks I’d email Sam to see how he was doing. If, or when, I got a response, he usually stated he was angry with me and he’d tell me why. I’d consider what he said in case there was something I could learn about myself. But, I noticed Sam stated he was angry with me about something around 90% of the time. I also know that’s not the effect I tend to have on people.

What triggered my “a-ha!” moment was a comment he made in response to a “how are you” email I sent after a long gap of silence. I realized Sam’s tendency was to tell me he was angry because I said something or didn’t say something, or did something or didn’t do something. So you can take the temperature of this properly, one time, he was angry with me because I hadn’t answered his question fast enough. Sam made a point of repeatedly telling me in what way he felt I was “broken.” This process intrigued me more than anything else; and I knew I would stay with it until I got whatever it was I was there for.

His response brought home something I already knew about Sam and he knows about himself: He lives in anger. He lives and manages his life and relationships, as Carolyn Myss once stated, through his wounds. This means he feels people must behave a certain way, based on his wounds, or he’s not happy with them. Someone who does this will be unhappy most of the time, especially with others. And, they will project this onto others as character flaws. No one can win in this scenario.

It felt as though Sam held a metaphorical measuring stick next to me and I never measured up, nor would I ever. This says more about Sam, than about those he “measures”: Sam is not happy with himself, and this influences his interactions with others. His inner pain is so habitual, and his attachment to his woundedness is so imprinted, his tolerance of others is low and his anger fuse is short. Sam has the capacity to be happy; but will discover this only when he realizes happiness is an inner experience and a choice.

Most of us understand that none of us does everything absolutely “right” all the time. Strong relationships are ones where individuals choose to get to know the others and find a way to experience a harmonious blend and appreciation of personalities. A person who readily accepts and embraces who and how they are, and their capacity to learn, grow, and evolve has an easier time extending this courtesy to others.

Sadly, those who live through their wounds doubt their self-worth; and this is often projected onto others. Those projected on may in turn doubt their self-worth, and a vicious cycle gets started. Imagine what the child of an individual stuck on and in their wounds is taught to believe about himself: he’s flawed, broken. And, trying to measure up to the needs of someone who is self-dissatisfied can consume the child’s energy and even life. Rather than explore how to expand his life adventure and get to know himself and share his authentic self with others, his focus is on how to win approval of a discontent parent or authority figure. How will this impact his experience of himself, his relationships and how he treats others, his success?

We all have wounds. It can be tempting to tell certain people certain things about yourself. It may be that you share information because you intend to create a history with them, like a long-term friendship or intimate relationship. Ask yourself if you really wish to lead with your old wounds, though. If you want to share information with someone, can you do it from a place of self-empowerment, from what you’ve learned and how you grew from an event or events? How might doing this affect the quality of the relationship? How will you feel about yourself, if you do this? There’s only one way to stand in your personal power: you stand in it. You accept and honor where you are right now, and allow your ability to expand into your “more”. When you can do this for yourself, you will in turn offer this to others. It’s a form of grace.

If anyone in your life is telling you that you are broken (or did so in your past), and you’ve believed them, it’s time to use the 10%/90% rule: maybe 10% of what they say is true and you might look at this; but it’s also likely that 90% of what they say has more to do with them than with you.

What if you’re the person saying this to yourself? If so, re-read this article and start treating your self the way you wish to be treated.

Author's Bio: 

Joyce Shafer (, life coach and author of "I Don't Want to be Your Guru, but I Have Something to Say," assists fellow life coaches to become self-published (and selling) e-book authors in 6 weeks through a 7-step process. Details at - see outstanding reviews of her books/e-books at