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by Sandra Prior
Swearing is, well, a bit of a curse. Those who litter their speech with swearwords may hardly notice they are doing it, but everyone listening to them does - and, even if only subconsciously, takes what's being said less seriously.
What comes out of your mouth generally reflects the kind of person you are and sets the stage for how people respond to you. Using foul language gives the message that you have a lack of restraint and professionalism, and inadvertently projects that you have no respect for yourself or the others involved in a conversation.
Using swearwords can easily become a habit. If it's one of yours, consider adding breaking it to your list of New Year's resolutions.
Spot the Potty Mouth
As with all bad habits, the first step to overcoming the problem is recognizing that you have one. Listen to your own speech, ask people whether they think your swearing is out of hand, or even record a conversation and listen to it afterwards. If every second word is a swearword then you have a problem.
It's also important to understand why you swear. Most people associate swearing with anger or frustration, but we do it for a number of reasons and in various situations, and it's usually reinforced by the company we keep and people we're trying to identify with. Figure out what triggers your foul mouth by writing a list of what sets you off - for instance specific people, traffic or work frustrations. Consider ways to better cope with these situations, such as being more positive or not rising to the bait when someone nags you.
Keep in mind why you want to stop. The key ingredient to getting over swearing is really wanting to do it. Motivate yourself by writing down all the reasons you want to stop, and read it whenever you're feeling the pressure and want to give up.
Swallow your Words
While this preparation may get you on the right track, reaching your goal will depend on determination and self-restraint. Here are some tips to help you hold your tongue:
The hardest thing about not swearing is having to substitute profanities with other words, especially when your conversation sounds duller without them. Civilized and respectful conversation does not involve a swearing contest, and you owe it to yourself to use a vast vocabulary to fill up your conversations. When you want to swear, make a point of trying to find alternative words or phrases. This will help you maintain your normal sentence structure even when you eliminate swearwords.
Ask for help from friends and family who never or seldom swear. They might have some good advice for you and, if nothing else, can give you a small pinch as a reminder whenever you slip up.
Use the counting strategy. If you want to swear because something has upset you, take a moment and count to 10 while taking deep breaths. Not only will it calm you down, it will also give you some time to think of something better to say.
Realize that habits are second-nature characteristics and won't disappear overnight. Don't beat yourself up if you slip up. It just means that you are easing out of your old habit slowly and encountering a few glitches along the way. As you would during dieting, pick yourself up and make a fresh start from that moment of relapse.
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