Lazy, hypocrite, stupid: Can we no longer handle the truth about ourselves? (POLL)

Grant Hilary Brenner believes the “harmful, negative labels” we use to describe ourselves and others come from “toxic places.” The mental health and self-care specialist thinks people should stop using the following words:


Brenner thinks people use this word to attack themselves when they haven’t done something they feel they should, and not just because they’ve been lying on the couch watching Netflix in their underwear for 12 hours.

It seems to mean there is something wrong with someone, because they are incapable of hard work, or don’t desire to do hard work, or both. It suggests the person is deficient in some fundamental and unfixable way, an object of scorn and disgust. 

Brenner suggests pausing before you tar someone as lazy and think about what else could be going on, and when it comes to yourself, focus on more manageable goals that can be achieved instead of berating yourself for failing to complete tasks.


According to Brenner, it’s hypocritical to call people hypocrites, most of the time. This is because it suggests you can’t have more than one opinion.

While hypocrisy surely is real, we call things hypocritical more often than they actually are because of how easy it makes it to deal with issues in the short run.


Great news if you’ve ever called yourself an idiot or stupid, you’re probably quite smart. Brenner thinks highly intelligent people often put themselves down, and shouldn’t.

He describes it as being like “cracking oneself across the head with a bamboo shaft for making a mistake.” So be kinder to yourself, doctor’s orders.


Being bored sounds like a pretty harmless descriptor, but, according to Brenner, the word indicates a far deeper and more uncomfortable feeling.

It’s easy enough to jump to boredom as a facile explanation for why we feel stuck and a way to avoid engaging with the more thorny issue of how we spend our time, and why we may be having difficulty identifying and pursuing activities about which we are curious and perhaps even passionate.  


There are plenty of spoiled people out there, but Brenner thinks we almost always use the word “out of anger and frustration [or] over-simplifying the underlying issues with a criticizing label.”


Calling someone selfish is a no-no as it often has “childhood roots, often religious or moral overtones as well,” Brenner says.

When we call ourselves or others selfish “we do violence” but luckily, we can blame our parents, who, according to Brenner often use that term when they find a child’s needs inconvenient.

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