Like any bad habit, swearing is easy to pick up and it’s difficult to break. Sometimes you don’t realize you’re swearing. However, it is certainly possible to change your swearing habits by recognizing that you have a problem and putting a genuine effort into correcting it. This article will provide a few helpful tricks to clean up your language – no washing your mouth out with soap needed!
Training Yourself to Stop Swearing
Enlist the help of a friend. Sharing a difficult experience or task with a friend or partner will make the whole experience more tolerable, even enjoyable. Enlisting a friend to help you in your endeavor to stop swearing can work in one of two ways:
- You can either rope in a friend who also has a swearing problem and work towards cutting out the bad language together, or you can ask a clean-mouthed comrade to monitor your language and give you a gentle reminder whenever you slip up.
- Either way, having someone to hold you accountable for your swearing slip-ups will force you to stick to your guns and kick this bad habit once and for all.
Identify your triggers and learn to avoid them. Everyone has their own individual triggers which set them off, leading to the intense desire to swear. For some people it’s traffic, for others it’s the queue at the grocery store and for others still, it’s when yet another character dies on “Game of Thrones”. If you can pinpoint what your exact triggers are, you may be able to avoid them – by leaving work 30 minutes later to avoid rush hour, by shopping online, or by watching reruns of “Friends” instead.
- Remove yourself from any situations which cause negative emotions to rise and you’ll be better able to control what comes out of your mouth.
Use a swear jar. The swear jar is a tried-and-tested method which has helped many people to kick their swearing habit. It usually involves taking a large jar or money box (something you can’t easily break into) to which you will add a dollar (or some other arbitrary amount of money) every time you utter a swear word. You can view the swear jar in two ways, as a punishment or as a delayed reward:
- It’s a punishment because you have to say goodbye to a dollar every time you slip up. But it’s also a reward, because once the jar is full (or you’ve successfully stopped swearing – whichever comes first) you get to spend the money on whatever you like – whether you want to buy yourself some new threads, or donate the money to charity.
- Keeping the swear jar in your office is a good idea if you have roped several people into giving up swearing. Everyone will hold each other accountable and make sure that nobody tries to sneakily avoid sacrificing their dollar. Once the jar is full, you can celebrate by buying a new coffee machine for your entire floor.
Ping your wrist with a rubber band. This method is the human equivalent of putting an electric shock collar on a dog to eliminate bad behaviors – unsavory but effective. Basically, all you need to do is wear a rubber band or a hair tie around your wrist and give it a firm snap every time you catch yourself swearing.
- The thinking behind this is that your brain will come to associate swearing with pain and, over time, will cause you to mentally shy away from using bad words.
- If you’re really serious about this method, you could give permission to a friend (preferably one prone to a little schadenfreude) to snap the band for you. Just try to remember that you agreed to it.
Pretend your grandmother is always within earshot. Another way to train yourself to bite your tongue whenever you feel a swear word coming on is to imagine that someone is listening. All the time. It could be your grandmother, your boss or your innocent little son or daughter, just as long as it’s someone you’d be ashamed to swear in front of.
- Whenever you swear, visualize them standing beside you with a shocked or horrified expression on their face. That should help deter you.
6Avoid explicit music and other swear-happy media. Many people’s swearing habits, especially those of teenagers, are influenced by the explicit content of much of their favorite music, movies or T.V. shows. If you feel like this is the case, and you’re swearing to sound like your favorite rapper, you may need a reality check to remind yourself that this is not how people speak in the real world. Try switching your radio station to squeaky-clean pop music, or at least download the clean versions of your favorite songs instead.
Changing Your Attitude
Convince yourself that swearing is a negative thing. Swearing is used in a lot of different contexts – you might swear when you are angry or frustrated, when you are trying to emphasize a point or when you are trying to be funny. Swearing is an unpleasant habit for a variety of reasons. It gives the impression of stupidity or a lack of education, even if this is not the case. It can be intimidating or viewed as a form of bullying if directed at another person. It can also be extremely offensive or off-putting to listeners, thus limiting your job prospects or ruining your potential for romantic engagements.
- Your swearing habit may have developed as a child, if you were exposed to bad language in your family home. Or it might have started as a teenager, when you used curse words to look cool in front of your friends.
- Whatever the reason, there’s no point in looking back and blaming people. The most important thing is that you recognize that you have a problem and commit to working through it.
Practice positive thinking. Positive thinking is essential to giving up swearing. This is because people are generally much more inclined to swear when they are complaining about something, in a bad mood or just being negative in general. By thinking positively, you are removing the need to swear altogether. Admittedly, learning how to think positively can be difficult. If you find yourself leaning towards negative thoughts or emotions; just stop, take a deep breath, and ask yourself “does it really matter?”
- For example, ask yourself “does it really matter if I’m a few minutes late for my meeting?” or “does it really matter if I can’t find the remote control and have to switch the channels on the television set instead?” Putting a situation into the right perspective can help you to calm down and overcome negative emotions.
- In addition, you will need to think positively about your ability to stop swearing. If you have a negative outlook and have doubts about your ability to succeed, you are setting yourself up for failure from the get-go. Remind yourself that if people can give up smoking or lose hundreds of pounds of weight through dieting, you will definitely be able to give up swearing!
Be patient with yourself. Swearing is habit that you’ve probably picked up over a number of years and which you’ve come to rely on as part of your daily speech. Like any ingrained habit, it will be impossible to stop doing it overnight. Training yourself to stop swearing is a process, you’ll have good days and bad days, but it’s important to keep at it. Remind yourself why you’re doing it and visualize how good you’ll feel when you’ve finally kicked the habit.
- Really think about why you want to stop swearing. Maybe you’re afraid of giving off the wrong impression at a new job or you don’t want to set a bad example for your kids. Use this as motivation to keep trying.
- Whatever you do, don’t give up. Exercise your self control and remind yourself that you can do anything you set your mind to!
Changing Your Speech Patterns
Pay attention to your swearing habits. An isolated swear word here and there can be forgiven – but if you find yourself swearing constantly, unable to to go more than a sentence or two without throwing in an expletive, that’s when you know you have a problem. The first step in training yourself to stop swearing is to become aware of when you do it. Do you only curse around certain people or in specific situations? Is there a particular swear word that you use all the time? Try to identify why you curse and the role that swear words play in your speech patterns.
- Once you begin paying attention to your swearing habits, you may be shocked by how much you rely on swearing to express yourself. Don’t be too dismayed by it though, recognizing how often you curse is the first step towards fixing the problem.
- Once you start paying attention to your own cursing habits, you will start to pick up on other people’s, without even realizing it. This is also a good thing, as you will realize how unpleasant swearing sounds and what a negative impression it gives off.
Replace swear words with harmless substitutes. Once you have identified your major swearing habits, you can set about eliminating swear words from your casual speech. This is when you curse for no real reason – you’re not angry, it didn’t just slip out – you are just using the curse word as a figure of speech. You can correct this problem by replacing the curse word with a harmless substitute, perhaps something beginning with the same letter or with a similar sound, which doesn’t cause offense.
- For example, try replacing “sh**” with “sugar” or “f***” with “duck”. You’ll feel silly saying these words at first, but you’ll get used to it after a while. Using such meaningless words may even eliminate your need to express yourself negatively at all.
- Even if you slip up and say the forbidden curse word, follow it immediately with your chosen alternative. Over time, your brain will come to associate the two and you will be able to actively choose one over the other.
Expand your vocabulary. Swear words are often used “for want of a better word.” The problem with this excuse is that there are plenty of better words out there, any of which will allow you to express yourself much more eloquently and succinctly than a curse word ever will. By expanding your vocabulary and replacing your most commonly used swear words with an array of alternative options, you will come across as being more intelligent, pleasant and laid-back than ever before.
- Make a list of your favorite swear words, then use a dictionary or thesaurus to come up with a range of alternative options. For example, instead of using the word “B.S.” morning, noon and night, try replacing it with infinitely more descriptive and humorous words such as balderdash, hogwash, drivel and baloney.
- You can also expand your vocabulary by reading more books and newspapers. Jot down any descriptive words that tickle your fancy and make an effort to use them in a sentence. Also make an effort to really listen to other people and make a mental note of the words and phrases that they use to express themselves, rather than resorting to swearing.