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Published April 25 2013

Benshoof: After Clemente, expert weighs in on how to quit cursing

FARGO – While the misfortunes (and later fortune) of former Bismarck broadcaster A.J. Clemente gave us some laughs this week, there’s a bigger issue here that needs to be addressed.

Namely, the terrible affliction that is cursing, swearing and cussing.

Admittedly, profanity isn’t something I’m immune to. When I get frustrated, I’ll let out a stream of “dadburns” and “consarns” like a foul-mouthed gold prospector.

It’s a good thing I’m not in TV journalism. Who knows what might happen.

To find a way to control my cursing, this week I reached out to a bona fide swear-stopping Superman: James O’Connor, the nation’s foremost expert on cuss control.

O’Connor, who lives in Lake Forest, Ill., published a book in 2000 called “Cuss Control: The Complete Book on How to Curb Your Cursing.” In it, he explains that because swearing reflects unprofessional and negative behavior, it’s important to quit.

One method O’Connor suggests, as my colleague John Lamb recommended in his column on Wednesday, is to try to use alternative words, instead of the kind Clemente apparently favors.

Although that will help, just changing the words you say doesn’t completely get to the bottom of the problem, O’Connor explains. Instead, you need to focus on the nasty emotions that cause us to cuss.

O’Connor says we should think about those times when we wouldn’t normally swear out loud and where we can handle our negative emotions. Then, try to picture ourselves there when we feel the need to curse.

“We manage to control it when we have to control it,” O’Connor says. “We have to imagine we’re in those situations all the time.”

For many of us, that swear-free environment might be around family. For others, though certainly not Clemente, that might be when we’re at work.

Some people – definitely not me, I swear – might argue that family and work are the cause of cursing. But that’s just them.

However you go about it, know that it won’t be easy to quit swearing, O’Connor says.

“It’s not easy at all. You have to make an effort all the time,” he says.

And the end, if you can’t control your language and let out the occasional a-, b-, d-, f-, h-, q-, r-, s-, or z-word, O’Connor admits that it’s not that big of a deal.

“It’s not the worst thing that anyone can do,” he says.

These days, nobody knows that more than Clemente, who continues to live it up on his post-swearing media tour.

Well, good for flipdangin’ him.

James O’Connor’s 10 tips for taming your tongue

1. Recognize that swearing does damage

2. Start by eliminating casual swearing

3. Think positively

4. Practice being patient

5. Cope, don’t cuss

6. Stop complaining

7. Use alternative words

8. Make your point politely

9. Think of what you should have said

10. Work at it

Online: www.cusscontrol.com


Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535