Self-Talk vs. Self-Destructive Talk

There’s nothing wrong with talking to yourself every now and then. Especially if you apply the cupcake principle.

What? You’ve never heard of the cupcake principle of self-talk? It’s really quite simple, and a little bit sweet.

First, although talking to yourself every now and then is normal, what you say to yourself is crucial. Is your self-talk positive or negative?

There are enough people in the world ready to put you (or anybody else) down; you don’t have to do it to yourself. You need to love yourself; don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend or to someone you love.

Some people seem to think it’s okay to put themselves down if they do it in a joking way. For example, a woman could be looking all over for her keys then notice the keys are in her hand (or on the table next to her phone, or someplace equally obvious). She’ll shake her head and say something like, “There they are, dummy.”

We may smile when someone talks about themself in a self-deprecating manner, but it’s really not healthy. If you call yourself derogatory names enough times, you start to believe it. And it wears away at your self-esteem.

Saying it in your head is bad enough, but saying it out loud reinforces the negative talk. That’s a form of self-sabotage I used to be guilty of.

Very often I’d be in a hurry to go someplace (usually these things happen when I’m in a hurry) and I’d print something out that I wanted to bring with me. While it was printing, I’d go brush my teeth, throw on my shoes, and rush out the door to my car. Then I’d realize I left the papers on the printer upstairs. I’d roll my eyes and mutter, “I’m so dumb.” Not that I believed I was dumb—just that I had done a dumb thing.

I decided not to say negative things to myself anymore. Instead of saying, “I’m so dumb,” I thought I’d say, “I’m no genius.” But, I realized, that wasn’t any better. Often I use understatement or irony (okay, sarcasm) in my humor; so, for me, saying “You’re no genius” was equivalent to saying, “You’re so dumb.”

Now I’m trying to use a version of, “Okay, I can do better.” My hope is to acknowledge my fault but not to beat myself up over it. I’m still working on it.

So, where does the “cupcake” come in?

Have you ever made cupcakes and put too much or too little batter in the individual cups? Those cupcakes are less than perfect, but there’s usually no need to throw them away. If they’re a little too shallow, you can fill the gap with a little extra icing. And if the cupcakes overflowed, you can trim off the excess before you ice them.

Forgive yourself. Accept that you’re not perfect. Then find a way to make up for the error or misstep. I think you’ll find that a little bit of love, like a little bit of icing, goes a long way.

What about you? Do you ever use negative self-talk? If so, how might you change that?