How to Stop Swearing

Swearing is an unsavory habit that many of us get into and then have a hard time getting out of. The problem with swearing is that it’s something that becomes completely ingrained into our psyche almost like our reactions and in some cases victims of brain damage who have completely lost all other language find themselves still able to swear when shocked or aggravated. Here we will look at why you should avoid swearing, and some tricks you can use to go about training yourself to ease off.

The Problem With Swearing

The problem is a profound one that has many impacts on our life – some that we are no doubt aware of and others that we might not have considered or noticed. First and foremost swearing is an issue in particular company. For instance if you are at a children’s party and you start swearing profusely, or if you are in a business meeting or interview and you let loose with the profanities then in either case this is going to be deemed highly inappropriate and people are likely to judge you harshly as a result.

Swear words are of course just words, but their connotations have come to be more than that, and they are generally thought of as aggressive or unpleasant. For some people swearing can be highly offensive and hurtful and while you might not think twice when someone swears, they may well be genuinely upset to hear you do so – so try to be considerate and avoid upsetting people unnecessarily by toning down your swearing. The problem though of course is that if you have started to swear as a habit/impulse, then this will be very difficult to tone down under the right circumstances and you will find that you end up swearing and cursing involuntarily at times when you know you shouldn’t.

And the other problem with swearing is that it means people don’t take you seriously. If you are in a business meeting, or dealing with someone on the phone, then the minute you start swearing you will have lost the other person’s respect and they will view you as less professional. Similarly if you are talking to someone you don’t know then they will estimate you as having a lower IQ if you swear more – it’s colloquial language and many people swear as a result of not having a full vocabulary so you don’t want people to think that you fall into that category.

Polishing Up Your Language

So if this is you, then you need to start fixing your speech and stop swearing. The problem is how? Here we will look at a couple of methods you can use to stop swearing.

Replacing the Swear Words

When you drop a frying pan on your foot, or when you get startled, you will have it as part of a reflex to curse loudly. This is simply a reaction that has been hammered home through repeated use and those pathways are simply there and heavily ingrained – there’s no logical thought or contemplation going on there.

What you need to do then is to simply change what it is that you’re shouting when that happens. This way you can still have your natural reaction of cursing, but you can make it a lot more tolerable for people who don’t like the sound of swearing.

You need to choose this word well though. Obviously you aren’t going to suddenly be able to change to starting to say ‘golly gosh!’ every time you drop something. That therefore means that you need something that is going to have a bit of bite to it and that is going to feel like swearing. ‘Gordon Bennett!’ is one that has a good angry ring to it, or ‘for Pete’s sake!’. Practice and see what works for you.

At the same time it’s going to help if you pick a curse word that is similar to your current choice of swear words. If you find yourself constantly saying ‘shit’ then change it to ‘sugar’, whereas if you constantly say ‘fuck’ then change it to ‘fudge’ or something close. This way you can use the same existing ‘channels’ but quickly alter the word as you find yourself saying it and it will come more naturally.

You also need to practice this new swear word a lot in order to give it that ease of access for your brain that ‘real’ swearing currently has. You want it to be so ingrained into your brain that it’s hard for you not to shout ‘fudge’ or ‘sugar’ when something happens. To get to this point try using the words every time that you are mildly annoyed where you are consciously choosing to use expletives. So if every time you are a bit annoyed or lost for instance you mumble ‘ah fudge’ then the next time you are suddenly shocked or enraged it will be practiced and available. Likewise practice using it in conversation instead of casually swearing.

Cover Up

Sometimes a swear word just slips out even with our best intentions and if you have a young child looking up at you with eyes like saucers hanging on your every word then this can sometimes mean trouble. Covering up your swear words can help to make them more bearable and there are several ways you can do this.

You can for instance practice changing the word as you say by adding something on the end. So if you find that you keep saying ‘fuck’, then simply add something onto the end like ‘rying out loud!’. Now what you are saying is ‘fuckrying out loud’ – i.e. ‘for crying out loud’. This is a great little way to cover up the mishap after it has happened and to fool younger children.

Another option is to simply clap loudly at the same time as you swear and this can cover it up audibly.


Remember this is something that has been ingrained in your brain through practice – not something that you are consciously choosing to do. Thus you need to use the same kind of brain training to un-ingraine it. One way to do this is simply with minor punishments which you can use every time you do swear.

One easy way to do this is to use the elastic band technique. That means simply having an elastic band around your wrist and now every time you catch yourself swearing you pull it back and ping it against your own arm. This will sting and over time you will come to associate swearing with the feeling of that sting which will then mean that your unconscious brain steers away from those words rather than helplessly steering toward them.

Another popular form of punishment that many people adopt for ceasing swearing is to use a ‘swear jar’. Here you have a small jar or pot that you all agree to put a little money into every time you swear. This can be a fair amount if you really want to train yourself to stop and the great thing is that after a while you will then have some money to raid that you can use to fund a holiday for instance or something else.

Of course part of the problem with pinging yourself or enforcing yourself to use a jar of money is that you will find that sometimes you simply forget to use it and this means that you will end up missing times when you should have put money in. Remember swearing is often automatic – in other words you often don’t even know you are doing it. Particularly with the swear jar then, but in all cases, it is a very good idea to have other people know about your plight and they can then warn you or nudge you when you do let slip a swear word and make you carry out the punishment.

Calm Down

If you are swearing a lot then that means that you are likely wound tight – after all we mostly use swear words to curse or to exclaim. Being so highly strung for so long simply isn’t good for you though and so it is important to find ways to calm yourself down. You can do this through many different strategies – whether you opt to simply control your breathing and try to maintain a steady heart rate, to practice occasional meditation which has been shown to help improve overall calmness, or to try to address whatever it is that is causing your stress in the first place (probably the better option).

Improve Your Vocabulary

If you find that you are swearing not as a form of expletive or curse, but rather than you are colloquially swearing as part of your general vocabulary in conversation etc, then this will mean that you are likely doing so as part of your vocabulary. This might mean that you could benefit from learning to improve your vocabulary so that you had less need for swearing. You can do this either by opting to learn one new word a day (it doesn’t seem like much but after a year that’s 356 new words) or by simply reading more which means you tend to take the new words in by osmosis.

Comments 21
  1. Tried the elastic band trick and suddenly at least 20 times a day someone would ask me about the bruises on my wrist. Drove me crazy. I felt like I needed to pass out a pamphlet named all about "Garry". I'm unemployed so I can't afford a money jar but I would like to find a less visible way to punish myself.

  2. I curse but met someone who is excessive with his foul mouth.

    I feel like I'm being somewhat contradictory, yet because it sounds so bad it helps me to consider and practice not cursing. The difference with me is that I do keep a civil tongue in most situations and while among certain company so I know with practice I can master losing the Hot words completely. I have considered ending my relationship with my foul mouth friend, its that BAD!

  3. I having been swearing and l am aware of it. Reasons: politically rebellion, free feeling, expression of anger release and frustration, to feel cool and light. But at 45 it just is draining and no reason for it anymore. I am smart but now the habit has taken place in over use and it just doesn't express anything to me. How to change it is what l want to do? Please help.

  4. The main reason I gave this article a poor rating is because of its prominent display of vulgar language in the form of a word-picture, clearly depicting one of the most offensive expletives used in the English language.

    Rather than continuing to bring attention to this problem in a way which can actually perpetuate it, shouldn't the point be to avoid using this foul language any further if we are truly serious about addressing it as a problem to be solved.

    This article not only takes initiative in the wrong direction, it further promotes the use of this foul language by its own imprudent approach, while completely disregarding the fact that some may be highly offended because they are immediately exposed to profanity as soon as they open this article to read it!

    It really is too bad that some people just don't have the mental capacity to conduct themselves decently and refrain from using vulgarity in public and on open forums, both of which undoubtedly host many, many young children.

    Profanity accomplishes nothing productive but instead encourages disrepute among those involved. Haven't we seen enough violent, aggressive behavior in this world that instead of perpetuating it, we should rather seek a reprieve from this pernicious ignominy?…

    I find it absolutely deplorable that so many Americans, a majority of which are parents with children, think nothing of this enticing yet highly offensive behavior.

    Something should be done to bring attention to this national crisis, since our very reputation, even as individuals, hangs in the balance on one level of society or another—be it in the workplace, in front of young children or even our grandparents for that matter!

    Why…if I ever thought of wising off to my parents growing up…it was a thought short-lived to say the least, since I knew that I would receive a well-deserved spanking for my disrespect and disobedience.

    I think our society as a whole, has forgotten what it means to have and to show honor, respect and dignity.

    There are many long-forgotten tenets of our history which prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that being carefully disciplined not only yields a good impression upon others but also encourages an environment conducive to the flow of true peace and happiness, without the threat of violent and malicious attitudes.

    Harsh words and derogatory statements are an ever-present yet unnecessary plague upon our world and should not be encouraged simply for the sake of a few nay-sayers here and there.

    As humans, whom all breathe the same air, we should be rightfully concerned with our own conduct and that of others whom we undoubtedly share the same personal space with more often than not.

    If a person wouldn't obviously invite a robber or overtly vulgar person into their homes, then why is it so hard for many to grasp the idea that we should be concerned with these daily influences we tend to encounter.

    It may seem to be a very huge challenge to tackle, especially among the younger generation of today, however it is one that is definitely worth our time and resources to fix, if it means that our society as a whole, would conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of imitation.

    It would seem that our society, in general, has forgotten what being a decent and loving human being is really all about.

    To honor a disparaging remark is no worse than stealing candy from a baby…both of which are inherently and unequivocally wrong.

  5. I REALLLLY NEED HELP TO STOP CURSING…. My son is four- and just rolled upon his first swear word/- and it's the worst of them all– FUDGE!

    This is breaking my heart and I am now looking up lots of research to try to change my own speaking habits…

    Thank you for the advice– and i am going to start trying a few techniques RIGHT NOW!!!!!

    I am so saddened by my son’s language– and in order to punish him– I need to punish myself and take my own advice to heart, as well.

    Thanks again.

    Wyatt's Loving Mommy.

  6. I really need to stop cursing. At home I have 3 little kids that live with me, my nieces and nephew who do not need to pick up this habit. At work my boss hates cursing and is using it against me, saying I am immature and unprofessional so he will not give me a promotion.

  7. This was a very helpful article. My favourite technique is the elastic band one where you flick it every time you catch yourself swearing. Thank you health guidance, I've been doing this for a while and I have stopped swearing (mostly)!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *