Bleepers Gonna Bleep: The 4-Letter Word That No One’s Censoring (But Should Be)
I got a lot of wonderful qualities from my mom: her leadership skills, her cry-laughter, her zest for life and all its little adventures.
I also got her really colorful language.
Okay, so I’m not sailor material per se, but just like my brazen mother, I’m not one to censor myself in a real-life conversation (which I’ve been told sounds strange coming out of my mouth since I enunciate like freaking Emily Post, but hey, that’s me).
Back in my freshman year of college, I got into a nasty habit of unintentionally dropping, out of all things, the f-bomb in the worst places (ie in front of the Gymboree at the local mall). I was unaware. And then, naturally, I was horrified. I snapped a rubber band on my wrist for a month to train myself out of using that R-rated conversational tick.
It worked, and I’m now aware of the moments that are maybe not so appropriate for my oh-so-colorful language. But there’s one word I always try to catch myself on, no matter how many fbombs fly out of my mouth. Because strangely enough, it’s the one most commonly used, nasty four-letter word that no one’s ever told me to censor.
Hate is, by definition, “intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.” It’s violent and should be used sparingly. So why do we use it so much, especially about ourselves?
Well, for one, we don’t censor it in other areas of our life. Just like when you’re learning a new language, the best way to let it set into your brain is to practice out loud with other people. We take social cues from each other, especially when it comes to how we speak. So when we hear the word “hate” being thrown around as an everyday verb – I hate this, I hate that – it begins to feel like something we all just do. We just “hate.”
“Hate” is a form of Casual Negativity, a little conversational tick that’s become normal for us. It’s much easier and more comfortable to say we hate something than to make an actual change – it’s a way to distract and convince ourselves that we’re doing something to move forward, simply by dwelling.
It’s also an extremely emotionally charged word. It gives us something to care about. It gives us something intense to feel.
And so hate permeates our lives, our relationships, and our self image. If we’re unhappy, if we’re upset, if we’re uncomfortable or unsure – we hate. It stirs up such an intense reaction that ultimately becomes familiar. To transcend the hate becomes too risky. So we don’t. And when we don’t, we hold ourselves back from working out the kinks in our psyche that just need a little love.
Just like me and the f-bombs I used to drop around small children, out-training your h-bomb habit is something you have to do intentionally. I don’t recommend using the rubber band trick – because a) it doesn’t get to the root of the problem and b) it really hurts. Instead, here’s how I’ve censored the h*te out of my life – strategically placed asterick and all – and what can maybe work for you, too.
1) Catch Yourself. Be alert. Whenever you’re about to say the word h*te, or even right after you say it, pause and take note.
For the sake of this exercise, I’m going to use two examples: internal and externally focused hate.
Example #1: I hate my stomach. (self – internal)
Example #2: I hate that person. (someone/something else – external)
2) Find The Filler. You’re saying “h*te” – but what’s that filler word really taking up space for? Is it shorthand for frustration? Confusion? Hurt? Maybe it’s the word you use to describe something that doesn’t fit your idea of how things “should” be.
Example #1: I’m frustrated and uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable because my clothes don’t fit the way I’d like them to, I’m frustrated because I’m comparing myself to someone else (or maybe even a former version of myself). I’m uncomfortable because my digestion is out of whack and it makes me bloated, I’m frustrated because it happens all the time (or maybe I’m frustrated with my lack of motivation to try and make a change).
Example #2: I’m hurt and confused. This person isn’t the way they used to be. Our relationship has changed. I keep holding onto expectations. I feel judged. I feel tuned out. I don’t know what happened and I’m scared to try and fix it.
3) Use Your Words. There are so many other more descriptive, more accurate, more useful words you can use to express how you feel besides h*te!
Look back on Step 2. How do you really feel? Start infusing those words into your life, and get as specific as possible. Then ask the simple question: what am I going to do about it?
Just like the other choice words and phrases, I sometimes unconsciously slip. But those instances are now the rare exceptions, not the norm. And in the last few years, a strange thing has happened: a causal use of the h-bomb has felt foreign and actually dirty rolling off of my lips. I’ve noticed that there are very, very, very few things I actually do hate in life, none of which have to do with the way I look, act, or feel on a day-to-day basis.
We all have our conversational ticks and our characteristic norms. We all laugh differently, we all lead differently, we all find the kinds of adventures that work for us. The language we use, then, should be a reflection of that – of the nuanced, brilliant individuals we are. At the root of what you say you hate is really just a longing for what you love. Click To Tweet
Let that live.
It’s fucking spectacular.
Tell me in the comments: What do you usually drop h-bombs about in your own life?
Using the mini-exercise above, what do you think your use of “hate” is filler for?
And – bonus points for this one! – what’s ONE tiny action step you can take now to help you overcome that feeling?
*my dad, an avid WANT fan, wanted to be sure you knew that he despises the H-word and always discourages members of my family from using it. that’s a MANT – Man Against Negative Talk – if I ever did see one! thanks, Dad.