The other day, I caught my finger as I closed the top of my Nespresso machine to make a cup of coffee. Spontaneously and without thought, I shouted out several curse words. I was shocked that I caught my finger, and it hurt. I felt like a clumsy fool for being so clumsy and called myself an idiot. Then I smiled and felt a lot better.
Recently, a female psychotherapy client sat in front of me very abashed. When I asked why she looked upset, she hesitatingly described a painful procedure at the Doctor’s office. She let out a curse word when the procedure became excruciatingly painful. She blushed and felt ashamed of herself. Both Doctor and nurse assured her they were accustomed to patients cursing when undergoing the procedure.
When we are the smallest of children, most of us learn from our parents that curse words are wrong and we must never use them. These teachings are correct. All of us know it is socially inappropriate to express ourselves in ways considered being insulting and in bad taste.
Recent research informs us that there are exceptions to the rules regarding swear words. A recent article put it this way:
Using swear words can have a wide range of positive effects on your well-being, including pain relief and helping you cope with emotionally challenging situations.
- Studies show cursing during a physically painful event can help us better tolerate the pain.
- Experts say using curse words can also help us build emotional resilience and cope with situations in which we feel that we have no control.
- Swearing can also provide a range of other benefits, including creative expression, relationship development, or allowing different identities to harmonize by signaling that you feel relaxed around the other person.
We’ve all had plenty of reasons to want to shout the “f word” during the last two years. Living in a pandemic has given us all cause to express our frustrations, whether from the ongoing confusing restrictions to the fear of what may happen if you contract the coronavirus.
It is essential the keep in mind some caveats about cursing. The same research shows the benefits of swearing did not occur in people who admitted to daily swearing as part of their lifestyle.
Every rule has exceptions. In this context, cursing among friends, especially men, is a way to express warmth, acceptance, and closeness.
Used appropriately and responsibly, outbursts of cursing, cussing, and swearing are an excellent way to handle the complexity of being human in a world that is not under our control.
Swearing can liberate when feeling bottled up with frustration. Curse words can have a calming effect on the complex emotions we are experiencing.