How To Respond To Someone Trying To Hurt You On Purpose

How do you respond to someone trying to hurt you on purpose? How can you stop them from hurting you when they don’t care that they’re hurting you?

Hurt people hurt people

You’ve probably heard the saying “hurt people hurt people” or have been told “take the high road”. But keeping positive in the face of consistent negativity is not an easy thing to do for even the most positively cheerful of us.

Excessive criticism, put downs (veiled or otherwise) and passive-aggressive behaviour (where you feel that someone is getting back at you indirectly, without telling you why); can put a damper on your positive cheerful, optimistic, and appreciative energy in any situation. You might even find that you’ve picked up some of the anger, resentment, irritation, vindictiveness and indifference directed towards you; and made it your own.

The common advice we’re given is to stay away from someone who is trying to hurt you. But sometimes that’s exactly what the person is trying to do — run you off. In other situations, staying away from such a person may be impractical if the person who is trying to hurt you works in the same office; is your next door neighbour or is a sibling you have to deal with on a regular basis. How do you deal with the situation?

1. Nobody can hurt you without your permission

The story often told in many personal development circles is one about the Buddha who was constantly insulted by one man. Every day, the Buddha just sat there calmly. Finally the angry man asked the Buddha why he failed to respond to the insults. The Buddha replied, “If someone offers you a gift, and you decline to accept it, to whom does the gift belong?”

Nobody can make you feel a certain way. If someone is trying to hurt you and you don’t allow how they’re treating you define your experience; they can’t hurt you. Even when another person’s words and actions are truly unacceptable, or they have wronged you in some way; you reserve the right to how you feel.

You choose your own feelings — and your own response.

2. Nobody can make you feel what you don’t want to feel

Sometimes going to the person and telling them to STOP IT seems like the only way to cut it off right at the source. But if hurting others or putting them down is the only way a person knows how to make themselves feel better; direct confrontation is like injecting cocaine into a drug-addict’s arm.

You can not win in an aggressive confrontation with someone who spends their time planning how to hurt you. If you feel that the person’s words and actions are really getting to you –especially if you are one who is oversensitive to others words and actions or have a low tolerance level — train yourself not to respond or act until your own feelings and emotions are under control.

To do this, you have to learn how to express how you truly feel in an assertive and not aggressive way. Assertively expressing how unacceptable the other person’s words and actions are, is taking back your power from the person trying to hurt you. Aggression or passive aggression (where you just take pot-shots at someone without telling them why) is handing over the power over your feelings to the person trying to hurt you.

3. Nothing will be gained by getting frustrated and bitter

Life is complicated enough without trying to figure out why one person is always putting you down, always trying to contradict you, always taking cheap pot-shots at you or always saying and doing things to hurt you. When you dwell on a rude remark or underhanded action done by someone else, you not only feel worse than when it first happened, you also feel stuck and helpless.

The feeling of stuck and helpless is your soul’s call for you to move into a place of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not about the other person; it’s about you giving yourself the permission to emotionally move on from someone who has hurt you, or emotionally move away from someone who is trying to hurt you.

4. The truth lies somewhere in the middle

There will almost always be somebody who adores everything about you and says only nice things about you; and someone who hates everything about you and has nothing nice to say about you.

RELATED: How Do I Stay Loving When Someone’s Being Mean To Me?

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  1. says: Mel

    Hi Yangki ,

    Thank you so much for your advice. We spent the day together with our kids and had a great time. We have agreed to spend every Saturday together. I am following your advice about taking it slowly and not pushing too hard. At least I can see that there is hope now. We wouldn’t be here if not for your wisdom, so thank you again. I am reading your book every day and find the exercises to be so helpful. I have noticed the change in myself and he told me that he has too. You’re amazing.

    Thanks , Mel.

  2. says: Mel

    Hi Yangki, Thank you for your advice. I have been reading your ebook and have just told my husband of 12 years that I don’t agree but accept his decision to leave. He has agreed to keep in contact, particularly as we have 3 young children . To my surprise he was really emotional and hugged me for a long time . We were even kidding around as I left. Are these signs that he still has some feelings for me?


    1. When you’ve been together for 12 years, love doesn’t just “disappear”. So yes, it’s very possible that he still loves you.

      But as I explained in other posts/comments, love is one thing, a relationship is another. With love, it touches you and takes you over. A relationship is a whole other animal. It’s a conscious, logical choice that we make based on many factors.

      In short, he may still love you but that doesn’t necessarily mean he wants to be in a relationship with you. I see this is so many relationships: two people who obviously still love each other, but for some reason can’t make a relationship work.

      If you want him back, you’ve got to work on the “relationship” part of the equation. I have provided many resources and tools for doing just that!

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