Let’s be honest: dropping an f-bomb here or there can be immensely satisfying. When you’re stressed or upset, swearing can be a good way to release those negative emotions (science proves it!). The odd well-placed R-rated word? Everyone needs it. Cursing all the time? Could make small children and your grandparents uncomfortable.
That’s why last fall, I decided to get my seven year habit of cursing up a storm for no reason under control. It wasn’t easy and it took a lot of trial and error, but with the help of a few friends, a calendar, and some made up words, I was able to clean up my act a bit. If you’re trying to stop or just cut down a bit, here’s some good ways to swear off the swearing.
Find a good motivation
It’s pretty difficult to make a change in your life without a good reason. I’ve heard reasons that range from wanting to be a better example for kids to wanting to expand your vocabulary. Mine was that I was looking into a part-time job and I didn’t want to wind up in hot water with my boss for letting something slip in front of a customer. Your reason can be as big or small as you want as long it’s important enough to motivate you to do better.
Plan ahead for when you’re upset
More often than not, my swearing was a result of me being mad or upset and I know that goes for a lot of other people to. Identify the kinds of situations that cause these emotions and figure out how better to deal with them. A muttered cursing under your breath in the car? Sure. A stream of expletives at a traffic cop? Yeah, not so much. Think about other ways to let off steam.Maybe just singing aloud to the radio in the car or the classic counting to ten.
Everything’s easier when you have a little help. I got my best friend to quit with me and that made a world of difference. We swapped advice, made up new words together, and motivated each other to keep going. But if nobody wants to do it with you, don’t fret. Just let a few friends know what you’re trying to do and have them hold you accountable and remind you to keep it clean.
Make up some replacement curse words
This is the fun part: making up new words! Curse words do serve a purpose, after all, so they need replacements. My bestie and I managed to come up with quite a few such as “friggle fraggle,” “razzle my dazzle,” and countless more. If you don’t feel creative enough to make up words or think they’re too weird to say in public, just replace every swear word with heck. Example: “Holy heck! Why the heck did I leave my hecking keys back in my room?” It gets the point across nicely while remaining unoffensive.
Pretend your little sister or cousin or daughter might be listening
If you’re stressed or angry and you feel like releasing a string of profanities, just imagine you’re surrounded by innocent ears. What would your grandparents think if they heard you say what you want to say? Or a classroom full of first graders? Or Eddie Redmayne delivering his Oscar speech?
Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up
Hey, it happens. No one’s perfect. But the more you work at something, the easier it gets.
Learning to control your swearing can be difficult, especially if you do it without even thinking like I did. But if you make a plan and stick, you’ll have the mouth of a freaking angel in no time.
Carly May is a filmmaker and writer currently based in Dallas, TX. She’s written two short films and was a cast member on the Dallas area sketch comedy show “Denton Live.” She’s also been a blogger and vlogger for Wonderly.com since 2013. Despite these achievements, her main talents are awkward side hugs and leaving parties early. Follow her at twitter.com/thatcarlymay and find her work at vimeo.com/carlymay and carlymay.journoportfolio.com.