Can Mindful Swearing Be A Thing?
The etiquette on cursing and when it’s okay or strictly inappropriate is one of the many intricate dances of social life humans adapt to without much thought. Some people swear casually, others never. The concept of a “swear jar” has been around since the Middle Ages. The rates for “swear words” increased on Facebook by 41% between 2019-2021. In a recent piece for the Atlantic, Arthur C Brooks compiles and contemplates what we know about swearing for stress relief and what it means for our mental health as social creatures. Researchers have found that doctors who swear in front of patients are seen as “less trustworthy and less expert” than those who didn’t. But, a review on social psychology found that across 74,000 Facebook posts, swearing was often perceived as more honest. These may appear to be contradictory, or just highlight that context matters when it comes to word choice. Other studies have shown swearing to increase solidarity and bonding, but it is also strongly correlated to aggressive, competitive, “type A” personalities. Context.
In 2020 a British psychologist ran a study where the subjects submerged their hands in ice water. Among the 92 subjects, some were told to use an expletive, some were told to say a neutral word, and a third group used the made-up curse word “twizpipe”. As a result, the group using the real swear word tolerated more pain and found more humor in the experience than the other two groups. The fictional curse word group ranked next, and the neutral word group came in last. Sometimes, expletives can create social bonding, add humor, or help release some steam. As noted above to use mindful swearing… context matters. Some brave souls have created safe spaces, like Rage Yoga, a class in a pub in Calgary where students are encouraged to swear during poses. The video, “F*CK That, An Honest Meditation” garnered so much popularity the creator went on to write a book by the same title. On the whole, there seems to plenty of evidence and the fact that sometimes it just feels good to throw around some choice words. To do so with intention may level up mindfulness or maybe we don't need a swear jar if it's in the pursuit of mindfulness.