Psychological Swear Words

Do you remember that moment when you end up in your driveway when you meant to stop at the supermarket on the way home?

That’s your brain on autopilot….

There is such a lot of talk about Mindfulness these days, and interestingly some people really tune out at the mention of it, rather than tuning in.

That’s the brain being critical, judgemental and self-limiting…..

So what’s going on? Life is so busy that we don’t necessarily stop and take the time to examine what we’re thinking. As it turns out, we often limit ourselves to save time and energy. We know what we like and what we don’t, we know what we are doing right….or do we? Sometimes we use such limiting language, that it shuts down our ability to consider other possible perspectives and often there is a judgemental and biased viewpoint at the bottom of it. This tends to happen when we use words and phrases that I like to call Psychological Swear Words. What are Psychological Swear Words? Words and phrases like: never, always and all the time are just a few examples. You probably haven’t heard this term before, that’s because I made it up so you would remember them.

There are two main problems with using Psychological Swear Words. Firstly, it traps us into thinking that we, other people and the world don’t change. Secondly, when we think that there is no possibility of something different happening, we don’t develop different ways to cope when situations are different. Actually, we don’t learn to cope and can get depressed, frustrated and anxious.

The major aim of labelling some words as Psychological Swear Words is to improve your ability to adapt to the ups and downs of life. It helps you be less judgemental and self-critical.  It helps you to be more realistic and adaptable. It helps you feel more optimistic and hopeful. In fact I would go as far to say that it is one of the most useful tools that you could learn if you are feeling depressed or anxious.

Being able to adaptably and flexibly respond to our thoughts about what is happening rather than getting stuck on autopilot, or limiting potentially helpful strategies by judging them too quickly, can be a matter of changing the language we use.

Psychological Swear Words is a very easy to learn and helpful strategy to release you from self-limiting beliefs through modification of language. Just like other strategies, while it’s easy to learn it, it takes practice, lots and lots of practice to master. We need to train our brain if we want to be more flexible, just like our muscles.

If you would like to learn more, contact the team at Melbourne Wellbeing Group on (03) 9882 8874 and make an appointment to see one of our psychologists.

Dr Jodie Thomas -

Clinical Psychologist