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Though it is common to hear profanity virtually everywhere, it is still possible to learn how not to use it. Profanity is actually a fairly limited language, which can offend or hurt people’s feelings. In addition, profanity is often picked up by the small children around whom it is used. Using profanity is a breakable habit that may be helped by a few tips.
First, consider our language. We have multiple ways to express our feelings, and profanity tends to leak out when we most need to express our feelings. One helpful way to break from using profanity is to arm oneself with an emotional language. “That hurts my feelings,” “I am really angry,” or “I feel frustrated.” “I’m tired,” or “I’m impatient and cross.”
The more we learn our own language, the more ways we have to actually express our own feelings without resorting to profanity. Especially since one has so many other ways one can “use our words,” avoiding profanity may actually allow us to express how one truly feels. In front of children, this type of expression is very helpful, because it teaches them the emotional language they will need to cope with difficult situations or challenging feelings.
Another tool for helping to avoid slips of the tongue is to always use language that one would use with either a young person, or someone elderly. If dear grandma were in the room, would one really choose the s or f-word? If a young niece or nephew was over and one stepped on a toy, would one let out an offensive exclamation? Consider that in public, someone’s dear old grandma or sweet child may be nearby.
If one does slip, say what one should have said. It helps to get in the habit of saying the words that don’t offend. Also, apologize for a word slip in a public venue. Recognize this behavior as potentially harmful or offensive and own one’s mistakes. Apologizing can be a healthy way to remind one that such language is now off limits.
Another method some find helpful is the profanity fine. If one slips and says a word, impose a reasonable fine. For teens, this could be a quarter, and for adults perhaps a dollar. Donate the money to one’s church or to a charity.
Some new parents substitute nonsense words for profanity, and this may be helpful. Another technique is to actually let out a bleep or buzz sound as would occur on television. Censoring oneself can be a good initial step toward moving onto more inventive words.
Some might argue that about the only acceptable time to use profanity is if one is acting in a part that requires such. At other times, the richness of the English language offers many words that are far more expressive of true feelings. Though this may be a difficult habit to break if one uses profanity frequently, it is not impossible. While profanity is often called “colorful,” truly colorful language expresses one’s varied vocabulary and ability as a speaker.