“I just realized that I’ve never heard you swear!”
That’s a line that I’m used to hearing after I meet new people and have spent some time with them. I’ve never gotten into the habit of swearing, at least not within earshot of anyone else. In August I decided to change that.
Why Start Swearing?
1 - Not swearing = duplicity
I swear all the time when I’m by myself (when I stub my toe, etc). I don’t want to have a private version of myself – what you might call the “real” me – that no one else ever sees. Swearing is a step towards “being myself” more fully around others.
2 – Not swearing = not feeling
I can sense that by holding back on swearing, I’m also holding back on feeling. Although I’m primarily concerned with swearing as a way to express and experience positive emotions, I think swearing can also be an effective way to handle negative emotions. Swear words somehow have a force/power that other words just don’t have. It seems to me that swearing can allow feelings to be experienced, and that resisting the urge to swear can stifle those (sometimes very positive) feelings.
3 – Not Swearing = not communicating effectively
I can also sometimes sense that by not swearing I’m holding back from communicating/connecting authentically with other people – sometimes preventing me from communicating a positive message.
4 – I want not swearing to be a free choice.
Up until August, my lack of swearing around other people wasn’t a choice. Swearing simply wasn’t one of the options available to me, because I was so uncomfortable doing it. I was afraid of what others would think of me, which is a terrible reason not to do something.
My Experience Swearing
I had two difficulties with swearing:
1 – It was uncomfortable (at first)
I started off being very uncomfortable swearing around others, but became more comfortable with it as the month went on.
2 – I found it hard to remember to swear
Swearing comes naturally to me when I’m alone, but apparently when I’m with other people swearing is usually not even on my mind’s radar. During August I made a special effort to remember to swear, and to throw swear words into casual conversation when they weren’t needed, as practice for the times when I’d really feel like using them.
Since August I’ve continued to swear, although my level of swearing has dropped off somewhat due to my poor memory. I’m happy to report, however, that there are times when I’m with other people that swearing does come naturally to me, and that I do take advantage of some opportunities to swear.
In case you were wondering, I do have a modicum of social intelligence – I don’t swear around young children, around adults who I know would be offended, or in other situations where swearing is inappropriate. Other times, the swearing continues…
Here are a few interesting videos about swearing
Stephen Pinker Part 1