It started in 2016. A random challenge assigned by my spiritual guides.
Stop swearing for the month of November.
At the time, it was mostly about seeing if I could do it because I swore A LOT.
Still do actually.
Except in November. Every year since the first one.
Turns out that voluntary temporary abstinence from a much-loved thing has unexpected benefits.
The most immediate benefit is increased mindfulness of what I’m saying at any given time. To stop swearing, you have to catch yourself before you swear, which means actually paying attention to what’s coming out of your mouth, or fingers in the case of written communication.
If you just stop there, you’ll make some positive shifts in your mindfulness, but it can go deeper than that. When I catch myself about to swear, it’s an opportunity to pause and explore my emotions in that moment. Why did I want to swear? What was I feeling that brought that particular word to my mind? That deeper awareness of emotions is essential for healing.
It’s easy to drop F-bombs and other swear words all over the place. It’s fun even. The F-word is the most flexible word in the English language, expressing a range of emotions from delight to despair and everything in between. And when you can’t say it, you have to fill the empty spaces it leaves with something.
As a writer, that helps push my creativity, stretching the ways that I express myself and making me better at communication in general.
It’s one of the simpler ways to flex some self-control. And so it’s one of the simpler ways to build self-control across the board. In the years since I started doing it, that little flex has had impacts that reverberated throughout my life in my ability to control the impulses that come with ADHD.