Swearing can be the most powerful utterance we can make. Fuck you! Fuck NO! Fuck yeah! Fucking hell yes! Fuck my Life. Fancy as Fuck.
So often we can’t change our circumstances.
The only way we have to accept our circumstances, when they’re shitty, is how we cope with them. And swearing really does help.
Humans build resilience through how we perceive, connect with each other and cope with what we can’t change.
When there is not a single effective way to resolve your circumstances, swearing really can help.
Sometimes the circumstances are short lived – like stepping on Lego at night ‘FUCK!’
Sometimes they are long term like a poor health diagnosis, relationship breakdown or a death ‘ this is fucked.’
Swearing is the only utterance that is cathartic.
Swearing can help us accept and navigate those circumstances, and it can help us heal. Swearing can help us connect with others when we feel alone in a sea of helplessness.
Swearing can reduce our frustration AND reduce our pain.
It’s clinically proven to reduce pain, anxiety and frustration.
Experts (how awesome to be an expert in this field) say that swearing can actually help us build emotional resilience and cope with situations, especially those situations in which we feel like we have no control. Swearing can be an EXCELLENT way to navigate stressful and anxiety laden situations.
Shout out to my Oncology Families who taught me new and exciting ways to swear during my daughter’s cancer treatment.
What a gift the word FUCK has been during some of my darkest times.
Sometimes the only thing that comforted me during the toughest times were messages of ‘That’s so fucked’ or ‘I’m so fucking sorry this is happening to your family.’
They trumped the ‘I am thinking of you’ and ‘Let me know what I can do’ every day and two times on Sundays. They helped me feel genuinely connected to those sending the messages because they triggered something in me – an emotional and physical response.
My beautiful friend Michelle was in PICU with her daughter. She was having dinner with another PICU Mum and asked about her child’s day.
“My daughter had a fucked day” the mother said, then looking mortified apologised for her language.
Michelle didn’t miss a beat “Don’t be sorry to me, I’m a sweary mother-fucker”.
They laughed and felt connected – through their shared shit shows and through their shared cathartic potty mouths.
Michelle’s new friend said that hearing Michelle say fuck was like hearing a Disney Princess swear. Michelle has porcelin skin, Rapunzel hair, but get to know her and she can teach you some swear combinations that will have you in tears or blushing.
Swearing has a hypoalgesic effect in our bodies and brains (can decrease sensitivity to painful stimuli).
So basically if you stub your toe and say ‘Ow’ you’ll be in more pain than if you stub your toe and say ‘Mother Fucker!’ Same, same when you’re in an emotionally loaded situation – a carefully curated sweary, childlike tantrum, in my experience, dials down my pain.
Swearing may stimulate the amygdala which can trigger a surge of adrenaline, which is a natural pain relief.
During COVID I made up some sweary postcards – they were colouring in postcards all featuring the word FUCK in some form and I sent them to my friends. They delighted in them. It helped us feel closer in our isolation.
They coloured them in and posted them to their friends. The fucks just kept on entertaining and enriching and connecting us all. 12 months on we are still talking about them and sending them to each other.
Swearing also makes demands.
It demands that we are SEEN. Because it effects the body and the brain – of both the swearer and the listener it demands attention and reaction. I think this is why swearing can sometimes sit uncomfortably with some users.
Sometimes the only thing we can do to accept our circumstances in have a good and proper rage about them.
‘This is Fucking unacceptable!’ ‘I fucking DEMAND change’ ‘Are you Fucking KIDDING me?’.
There’s a real fucking double standard when it comes to women, their rage, and the word fuck.
Beware a fuck uttered by a woman in anger. Why is it considered just not fucking ladylike to swear, or to be angry? The taboo of women, their rage and swearing is a whole other kettle of fish I’ll cook up for us in another article but it’s worth mentioning here – food for fucking thought.
When I was a child I was told that swearing was the fodder of the uneducated or the less eloquent.
I was told to find more eloquent ways to say what I wanted to say. BUT – there have been awesome studies proving that the more eloquent someone is in their swearing, the wider their overall vocabularies are.
Someone recently showed genuine surprise (and I don’t think judgement – but maybe a touch) that I swear (clearly she’s a new friend) but mostly she was surprised that I don’t sensor myself in front of my children.
I have to qualify this – I NEVER swear AT my children. We have very high standards of how we treat each other and how we speak to each other in our family. But I’m not above letting a frustrated or excited ‘fuck’ fly in conversation while they’re in the room to hear.
My children have actually never sworn (in front of me and they tell me ever) – they know that this word is a grown up word, and they have permission from me to use it when they’re old enough to drive (which let’s face it, is when they’ll need it most).
I don’t shelter them from the wonder of this beautiful word in the same way that I don’t shelter them from my full range of emotions. They’ve seen me cry and rage, they’ve seen me broken, they’ve seen me excited and loving and everything in between – and that’s GOOD for them. It teaches them that all emotions are valid. I see my freedom of language around them as a similar tool.
The only exception I’ve made to my children swearing is when my daughter Lara lost her friend Piper to the cancer while she herself was fighting leukaemia. Piper’s favourite song was ‘Pretty Girl’ which lets a few ‘bitches’ and ‘fucks’ fly in the lyrics.
As a way for Lara to feel close to Piper, and to process her pain I let Lara sing every word to that song. She sings it LOUD and feels so much joy and connection – she processes and accepts what she can’t change through singing the swears. She sings and swears and feels empowered.
If you’re a potty mouthed woman, like me and mine, fucking CLAIM it. I urge you to OWN it. Swearing really does help.