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  • Writer's pictureLorelei Hoyt

I Am a Horrible Person – Hello Pot it’s the Kettle Calling.

Updated: Jun 24

'I am a horrible person' I said as I sat staring at the screen of my cell phone.

The words rang in my ears. I am a horrible person. I typed them into the screen and sent it. I am a horrible person. I repeated that message to myself over and over. I am a horrible person I told my friend on the phone later that day. I am a horrible person I said out loud to myself as I walked to the shed to feed my chickens. I am a horrible person I told my dog. I am a horrible person I thought to myself again and again and again. I am a horrible person I had the florist write on the card over the phone as I ordered the flowers. I am a horrible person resonated through my mind.

But wait…

What had started this litany of self-deprecating recrimination?

Was I really a horrible person?

What had I done you ask to be identified as a horrible person?

Well it all starts with my best friend of almost 3 decades, we can call her Liz, asking if I

wanted to get together. You see we live over an hour apart, both have busy lives, and lead very different lifestyles. But this friend is a wonderful human being and she always goes out of her way to connect with me regularly. It is usually in the form of her “wellness check” text messages, or phone calls hastily conducted as she drives between commitments in her busy life.

On this particular morning it was an invitation to meet on my side of the major city that exists between our homes and check out a store where she would be my fashion advisor while I try on some clothes to build my new business casual wardrobe. In truth it was just to connect face to face but she had an errand in that part of the world and had actually delayed completing it by 4 days so that I could coordinate this visit with her.

In theory, this should have been an easy accomplishment but in truth, it went sideways. For you see I am good at some things and not at others. One of the things I am not good at is time.

For me time is elusive. It slips through my fingers like water or sand. I grab at it and it slides past me over and over again. I think I have time to do so many things in my day and in the end I may, if I am lucky, get one or two of them done. For everything always takes more time than I think it will.

On this particular morning, I had calculated in my head that I had one virtual appointment that would end in time for me to complete my record keeping, and then get out the door and make the 45 minute drive to meet her as agreed upon. Should all be fine right? Umm nope.

I sat writing notes, deeply engrossed in my thoughts, trying to find the right words to express myself accurately, when my cell phone binged with the alert for a text…..

“I just walked in” the text read.

I was sitting in my office chair a 45 minute drive from our agreed upon meeting place.

I panicked and replied “I am so sorry. I lost track of time and I’m just leaving. I’ll hurry and we don’t even have to shop. I‘ll just buy you lunch.”

She responded that she had to be back home by a certain time to not to worry about it and that we would try another time.

I sent several more messages apologizing and then I didn’t hear from her for 8 days.

Eight long days.

I don’t think we had gone that long without connecting in years.

I felt sick. I felt horrible.

I was sure she was furious and hurt and went out of her way to meet me and would be less willing to do so again.

(Stay tuned for a future article on why we should never mindread or assume things about other people’s lives or intentions.)

I felt like a horrible person so that is what I told myself I was.

Am I a horrible person?

Of course not.

I am a scatterbrain. I am a person who hyper-focuses on tasks. I am a person who (with very few exceptions) has no intrinsic concept of time passing. I am a person who regularly overbooks myself and still lacks a time machine or teleporter to accommodate my good intentions.

But what I am not is a horrible person.

By the end of the day I felt so low and so sad and so basically awful that I called another friend, let's call her Sue, and relayed the whole story. I repeated the phrase "I am a horrible person" several times while retelling my tale.

Now Sue is someone who often tells me she is fat or lazy. I have regularly told her that she is neither. She is short, and pregnant, in the heat of an Alberta summer. When she says she is fat she is actually just growing a baby. When she says she is lazy she is actually just tired and resting as the aforementioned baby is sucking up all her energy to grow.

(For more information on the importance of rest see my blog on the subject at ).

I have repeatedly told Sue she must pay attention to her self-talk and be kinder to herself. I have also told this to clients every day, day after day, for a long, long time. (If you are a client reading this I apologize for not remembering how easy it is to fall into a pattern of negative self-talk.)

Now Sue is a good friend, but she is direct. She does not sugarcoat anything, ever. She just laid it out for me. I was doing exactly what I was always telling her not to do. I was using terrible and damaging self-talk and I needed to stop. She was right.

I was doing exactly what I tell other people not to do.

I was harming myself with my own self-talk!

Hello pot ... it's the kettle calling.

Self-Talk is Powerful.

The messages we hear shape us.

This includes messages we tell ourselves.

I was telling myself something very negative about myself over and over and over. It was making me feel worse and worse as the day went on. I needed to practice what I preached and not say horrible things about myself.

Negative self-talk may seem like a small thing but it's not. Research has shown that repetitive self-talk can influence how we think, act, and feel [2,3,5]. In fact, negative self-talk has been found to not only be predictive of anxiety and depression but also influence their severity, persistence, and relapse [3].

Worse than that negative self-talk can affect how brains function when doing cognitive tasks. What that means is that how we talk to ourselves can make it harder or easier for us to complete challenging mental tasks [2].

Even young children have been shown to have changes in school performance by becoming aware of, controlling, and changing their self-talk [1,4].

After all, if what we put in our bodies makes a difference to our physical health wouldn’t it make sense that what we put in our minds make a difference to our mental health?

Ok, so we know that how we talk to ourselves is powerful and shapes how we think, feel, and behave. So, what do we do about it?

Well, the first thing I had to do was forgive myself for making a mistake. Ok I screwed up and lost track of time. Did I kick my friend’s dog? No. Did I key her car? No. Did I call her a bad name? No. Did I poke her with a pin? No. Did I steal her favourite coffee cup? No. I made a mistake!!! I lost track of time and stood her up for our date. Ok. My bad. I apologized and she said let it go so now I had to do just that.

So, take a hard look at yourself and put your behaviour into perspective. Are you lazy or tired? Are you fat or pregnant? Are you horrible or forgetful?

I am in fact a pretty nice person. I care about others and make efforts to be a supportive friend. I am human and make mistakes, but I own them and make reparations (hence the flowers to Liz).

Next, I had to recognize that I was talking bad about myself. I was saying horrible things about the person I should say the kindest things about. I had to ask myself would I say this to anyone else? Would I call my friend, neighbour, niece, nephew, dog or anyone else a horrible person? No. Would I allow someone I cared about to say something horrible about someone else or about themselves? Well as per my friend Sue no I would not. I had in fact corrected her for her own self-talk many times. So, what did I have to do next to unwind the harm I had done to myself?

The last step was that I had to flip the script and change my negative to a positive. (Ugh that sounds like math or physics… stay tuned for a future blog on educational goals and struggles.)

I had to tell myself some positive things to repair the harm done by my negative self-talk. I had come up with several positive messages to counteract the damage my day of negative self-talk had done.

So, I switched from I am a horrible person to I am fortunate to have such a good friend who understands that I make mistakes sometimes. I told myself I was a good friend and was allowed to make mistakes. I told myself I was a kind person even when I am hard on myself. I told myself I am a normal human who is still learning and growing.

Within a few days of my more positive self-talk, the story had taken on a more humorous and less self-deprecating tone. I had forgiven myself and chuckled about it several times. I was feeling more positive and cheerier again.

Oh, and Liz… yeah, she texted a wellness check-in due time. It was delayed by medical emergencies in her family that had her at the hospital for several days. If I had been less negative and self-deprecating and had not tried to mind-read and assume the worst I might have been more sensitive to her radio silence and reached out to check on her. My own negative self-talk resulted in my not even checking on my friend when she dropped off the radar uncharacteristically. Ooops. Lesson learned.

And the flowers I sent?? She texted that they were totally unnecessary. They were actually long overdue as she is an amazing human who deserves flowers regularly but that is a story for another day.

So next time you are experiencing self-talk, run it through a couple of filters.

1) Would I say this to someone else?

2) Is it accurate?

3) Would I allow someone I care about to say that about themselves?

4) Is it helpful?

If the answer to any of these is no … FLIP YOUR SCRIPT.

After all, I know you are wonderful, and you should tell yourself more often.

In fact, do it as a matter of routine.

Speak kindly to yourself whenever possible.

Feed your mind with the positive, healthy, nourishing thoughts that improve your mental health.

Meanwhile, the only pot and kettle I want in my life are the ones I make my tea with.

Until next time... keep that self-talk positive, and the tea hot, as I send you all good thoughts and potentially buy myself a new watch.

If you are having trouble managing your self-talk contact us for support. We want to help.


[1] Chopra, Kamal (2012). Impact of positive self-talk. University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education Retrieved on June 16th, 2023 from

[2] Kim, J., Kwon, J. H., Kim, J., Kim, E. J., Kim, H. E., Kyeong, S., & Kim, J. J. (2021). The effects of positive or negative self-talk on the alteration of brain functional connectivity by performing cognitive tasks. Scientific reports, 11(1), 14873.

[3] Spinhoven, P., van Hemert, A. M., & Penninx, B. W. (2018). Repetitive negative thinking as a predictor of depression and anxiety: A longitudinal cohort study. Journal of affective disorders, 241, 216–225.

[4] Stanulis, R.N., & Manning, B.H. (2002). The Teacher's Role in Creating a Positive Verbal and Nonverbal Environment in the Early Childhood Classroom. Early Childhood Education Journal, 30, 3-8.

[5] Kross, E., Bruehlman-Senecal, E., Park, J., Burson, A., Dougherty, A., Shablack, H., Bremner, R., Moser, J., & Ayduk, O. (2014). Self-talk as a regulatory mechanism: How you do it matters. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 106(2), 304–324.

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