My thoughts of late have comprised of bitter negativity and reluctant pessimism. I could not help but see the worst of every situation. The origins of this cancerous attitude, I did not know, but its existence was more evident than the morning sun. I began to simply dislike most things for no reason. And it wasn’t that I actually disliked the thing in question. My mental consciousness would just blurt out disinterest in things by default, before they were even given the chance. It seemed more like an automatic habit than an inherent dislike towards things.
Several days ago, my long time friend and I watched a movie with biased political views which he happened to disagree with. He expressed his discontent and anger the way a child would to get the attention and pity of his parents. “Fuck this, fuck them, sons of bitches assholes. I fucking hate the politics of [country name redacted].” It was more emotional than informed. He went on nagging incessantly. It bothered me. His negativity made me upset. What a miserable life one must have, I thought, when first reactions are of hostile resentment.
Later that night after he left, I was preparing a sandwich when I happened upon a most unfortunate realization. “There’s no fucking mayo!,” I shouted. “Fuckin’ a, how’m I supposed to eat a fucking sandwich without mayo?!” I began swearing to myself as if those were the only words I knew, before I abruptly realized that I sounded familiar. I sounded just like my bitter friend. What a tragedy, that I, the same man that was lamenting and pitying another soul just hours ago, am just a reflection of that which I resented. I saw myself in him. The state of my consciousness had been manifested in his performance just hours ago, and I for the first time saw it in physical form. My story cannot end in that same fate, I thought. This man is knee deep in the swamp of bitterness and hostility, and I have been given the rope by which to escape. Could this be the reason for my constant pessimism and negativity? Could swearing be the reason I was so often closed minded and angry?
So I thought I would try an experiment. Would my attitude change if I were to refrain from mental swearing? Would I regain my optimism and stop being resentful towards things by default? “No more swearing, no more fucking swearing!” I declared. This was going to be harder than I thought.
Over the next couple days, I would catch and stop myself whenever I used profane words. And not only when I used them negatively. The goal was to not use them at all, even if it were positive like “that video was funny as fuck.” I began to realize just how pervasive swearing was in my vocabulary. Almost every other sentence I uttered used swears as adjectives, nouns, verbs,— you name it. And don’t get me wrong: I never swore out loud. My friends and coworkers have only ever heard me swear on a few occasions. It is not a foul mouth that plagues me, but a foul mind. I place no restrictions on my thoughts.
It hasn’t been easy, and the frequency at which I mentally swore was appalling, but now, after just a few days, catching and preventing swears has become second nature. And this has translated into a new found sense of optimism. To see just how strong and effective these words are at affecting your mood, allow me to demonstrate.
(I will not censor swears here for the sake of science)
Say these two negative statements aloud in your normal tone:
“I hate dark chocolate”
“I fucking hate dark chocolate”
How did you do? The first sentence probably sounded very plain and default. It didn’t stir too much negativity within. You’re still calm and cool. The second sentence however probably got you riled up a bit. You probably unconsciously put a lot of emphasis on the word “hate”, and your face and mouth made all sorts of distorted and disgusted shapes. Heck your blood pressure might have even increased a little.
Swear words are not just harmless little words that carry no weight. They are powerful. They cause chemicals within your body to mix and boil. They can make you angry without your realizing it.
I’m happy to say that over the past few days, I have realized a dramatic improvement in my attitude. I’m forced to see things positively since I can’t swear at them. I can’t say “I fu**ing hate this show” anymore, and this keeps me calm and collected. I try to avoid all negative thoughts now, but if I must let one rip, I’ll try to say “I dislike this show, but here are some things which I do like about it”. I try to avoid the easy task of criticizing that which I don’t like, and find things that I do like, which is much harder.
Try it. Go on a swear fast. You’ll notice just how often you swear mentally and verbally, and just how much control these words exert on your mood. After trying this experiment, I can never go back to swearing again. It just doesn’t feel right.