The Power of Profanity — Pt. 1

I was in sixth grade the first time I slipped.

In sixth grade, the bad kids whispered profanity from their desk when the teacher announced a pop-quiz and moved out of ear-shot. In the white-noise of our lunchroom, they shouted it behind the back of our cafeteria monitor. In the halls, an expletive timed with the slam of a locker door covered their indiscretion. It was a tool meant to create shock value — for attention. I cowered in fear and awe of their blatant disregard for authority.

By sixth grade, my mother had taught me that the meaning of words matter, and I knew that cursing was just that, a curse. I’d also read the definition in the dictionary, ”To show irreverence to God.” So I tried not to think, much less speak, vulgarity.

But kids being kids, some of them noticed, and started making fun of my “goody-too-shoes” speech.

I felt humiliated, and as their taunts grew, so did my shame. Then, one day in science class, our teacher stepped out. I took a deep breath, intentionally knocked my text-book on the floor, and just above a whisper, cursed.

Immediately, I cringed, waiting for the lightning strike. But nothing dramatic happened, except three of the cool kids rushed over. One of the boys slapped my shoulder, “Goody-too-shoes isn’t so good after all.” I took note of the respect tingeing his voice. I felt the power of my disrespect pour into my body like oil in my bones.

I changed that day, a level of acceptance from my peers allowed me to become one of them. Over time, cursing moved from my own attention-getting tool, into a habit I stopped noticing. It became part of who I was.

The workplace often feels like sixth grade. And I carried my ugly habit with me, until,….

Well, I’ve talked enough for one day. We’ll have to pick this up later.

Do you use profanity in as an everyday habit? How does it affect you internally?

Anita FreshFaith@ Work

Psalm 109:18 (NIV)

He wore cursing as his garment; it entered into his body like water, into his bones like oil.

Anita Agers-Brooks is a Business Coach, Certified Personality Trainer, Communications Specialist, national speaker, and author. She lives in Missouri with her family.

She’s passionate about business with integrity, healthy marriage, and issues of identity. She travels the country teaching others from her personal experiences.

Contact her via or


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