Hurt People Hurt People

Rick Warren? Will Bowen? Yehuda Berg? Charles Eads? Oprah Winfrey? Helen Boyd? Doug Manning? Emotions Anonymous? Barbara Johnson? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: People who have been hurt or damaged in life sometimes respond by striking out and hurting the people who are around them. A concise adage expresses this viewpoint:

Hurt people hurt people.

This statement been ascribed to pastor Rick Warren, minister Will Bowen, and rabbi Yehuda Berg who are all bestselling authors. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: These three influential religious figures have all employed the saying, but only after it was circulating.

The earliest match located by QI appeared in an Amarillo, Texas newspaper in 1959. A columnist described a meeting of the Parent Teacher Association held at a local Junior High. One of the speakers was named Charles Eads. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Charles claimed the teacher’s job is to take 25 or 30 live wires and make sure they are well grounded. And he said the human anatomy is a most peculiar mechanism. If you pat it on the back it often makes the head swell.

Then he made a statement that might give pause to a student of psychology. It’s worded peculiarly. The statement is, “Hurt people hurt people.” So, maybe before I wound someone next time, I’ll stop and think if it’s because I’ve been hurt, myself.

It is possible that Charles Eads coined the saying; alternatively, he was simply repeating a phrase he had heard previously.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Hurt People Hurt People


  1. 1959 February 26, Amarillo Globe-Times, Polk Street Professor, Quote Page 30, Column 1, Amarillo, Texas. (Newspapers_com)

Create the Highest, Grandest Vision Possible for Your Life Because You Become What You Believe

Oprah Winfrey? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Famous talk show host and entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey has suggested that you should have grand visions because you become what you believe. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: Oprah Winfrey delivered the commencement address at Wellesley College in Massachusetts on May 30, 1997. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life because you become what you believe. When I was little girl, Mississippi, growing up on the farm, only Buckwheat as a role model, watching my grandmother boil clothes in a big, iron pot through the screen door, because we didn’t have a washing machine and made everything we had. I watched her and realized somehow inside myself, in the spirit of myself, that although this was segregated Mississippi and I was “colored” and female, that my life could be bigger, greater than what I saw.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Create the Highest, Grandest Vision Possible for Your Life Because You Become What You Believe


  1. Website: Wellesley College, Article title: Oprah Winfrey’s Commencement Address, Article author: Oprah Winfrey, Date on website: May 30, 1997, Website description: Information about Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. (Accessed on August 25, 2019) link

A Stumble Is Not a Fall

Malcolm X? Oprah Winfrey? Haitian Proverb? Portuguese Proverb? Henry Rich? Thomas Fuller? Thomas Dunn English? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: While pursuing an objective one may make errors and suffer setbacks, but these impediments to progress are not insurmountable. Here are two versions of an analogical proverb offering encouragement:

  • Stumbling is not falling.
  • A stumble is not a fall.

This saying has been attributed to entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey, and activist Malcolm X. It has also been called a Portuguese and Haitian Proverb. Would you please examine this topic?

Quote Investigator: Malcolm X received credit in the 2000s which is very late. Oprah Winfrey did use the expression during a commencement speech in 2016.

The adage has a very long history. In 1643 Henry Rich, 1st Earl of Holland made an apologetic official declaration which included a thematically related proverb. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

And since I have made an uneven Step, from the Unclearness of my Information, more than from the Unfaithfulness of my Affections or Intentions, I hope it may be look’d upon and consider’d as the Proverb that saith, Whosoever stumbles, and falls not, gets rather than loses ground.

Interestingly, the above saying depicted a stumble positively. Another positive precursor occurred in the 1732 compilation “Gnomologia” edited by Thomas Fuller. The reference included the following four sequential items: 2

423 A stout Heart crushes ill Luck.
424 A Stumble may prevent a Fall.
425 A streight Stick is crooked in the Water.
426 A successful Man loses no Reputation.

The adage above has continued to circulate in books and periodicals up to the present day. Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading A Stumble Is Not a Fall


  1. 1692, Historical Collections: The Third Part: Volume 2, Containing the Principal Matters Which Happened from the Meeting of the Parliament November 3, 1640 to the End of the Year, 1644, Licensed: November 11, 1691, Edited by John Rushworth, Declaration made to the Kingdom by Henry Earl of Holland, Date of Declaration: 1643, Start Page 367, Quote Page 368, Printed for Richard Chiswell and Thomas Cockerill, London. (HathiTrust Full View) link
  2. 1732, Gnomologia: Adagies and Proverbs; Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings, Collected by Thomas Fuller, Quote Pages 16, Printed for B. Barker, A. Bettesworth, and C. Hitch, London. (Google Books Full View) link