I sometimes yell at my immediate family members when arguments arise. I’m not proud of it.
I’ve talked with other anger “patients” that have road rage or easily yell at strangers or people in public, but never at their own family—something I don’t identify with.
Granted, I believe 99% of outbursts are wrong, regardless of who they are directed at. But I feel extra guilty for having better manners with strangers and fellow drivers than the people I love most.
Because of that, 11 years ago I admitted myself to anger therapy. It was a life-changing experience that didn’t fix the problem, but it definitely improved it and gave me great coping mechanisms.
This January, I had an epiphany. “I wonder what would happen to my temper if I willingly removed swear words from my vocabulary?” To find out, that’s exactly what I did this year.
Here’s how it went.
By summer, I had only sworn five times. Five times, people! (Two f-bombs and three s-grenades.) One of those was directed at Alexa after she wouldn’t play the song I requested for the umpteenth time. How embarrassing is that?
By November, I swore a few more times in a single argument with my wife and two teenagers. Ugh. That brought my total up to 8 swear words in almost 12 months (provided I make it through the holidays without profanity).
What have I learned from this exercise?
Words matter. In fact, my choice of words is directly tied to my emotions. The fewer swear words I spoke this year, the cooler my emotions stayed. While I love a well-timed and comedic cuss as much as anyone, keeping my emotions in check is a bigger priority for me now.
My wife and I both agree this habit has reduced the intensity and frequency of my anger. So I will no longer be swearing. If you catch me doing it, please wag your finger and remind me to behave.
It takes a village, right?