Challenge: Can you do without THAT for 21 Days?
We are in the middle of a challenge, so stop cussing. Don’t curse, don’t complain, don’t swear for 21 days. Do you think you can manage? Sounds quite easy, right? Three weeks, that’s nothing – Cakewalk for you? Well, I wouldn’t bet my last shirt, though, as it truly is more daring than it sounds.
We are so rude and barely realize it anymore. I took the challenge myself, and instead of speaking the abusive words out, I wrote them down in a little notebook, instead. You don’t want to know what has accumulated by the end of the 21 days. It was rather shaming.
I read about this dare for the first time in Tim Ferriss’ blog. At the time, I was smiling and putting it in the corner of things I thought were cool, and, perchance, I would do it at some later point.
Then, however, came a time where I realized more and more how much I was actually cursing and swearing and getting upset about things that I couldn’t really influence.
Coincidentally, during this time period, I listened to a podcast recommending exactly this challenge. I thought to myself that now would be a good time to do so. Especially since I like experiments myself (e.g. a good plank challenge), as I always love to try something new and observe the changes in body and mind.
That’s why I started meditation 3 years ago, my vegetarian diet also a few years ago, my daily 7 minutes, and still increasing, plank routine, my ho’oponopono prayer that I’m diligently practicing twice a day for a year already, and more.
All these things have helped to shape me into the person that I am today. Since I know that there’s far more I can improve and learn, I thought that perhaps this challenge would also make a positive difference.
What the Challenge Looks like in Concrete Terms
I was not allowed to do the following for 21 days:
✓ Scolding another person, in a tone that is not appropriate.
✓ Constructive criticism is fine, do not swear.
Not allowed: “You look like $h!t today!”
Allowed: “You look worn out. Are you okay?”
Don’t complain about things I can’t influence anyway. Don’t complain as much as most people do every day. In simpler words…Don’t be Mr. Grinch!
Not allowed: “What a $h!t day!”
Allowed: “Today was a really busy day, and it didn’t go as planned.”
Don’t curse when I hit my head. Don’t curse when the traffic lights in front of me turn red. Don’t curse if the car in front of me unexpectedly brakes or the driver almost causes an accident because he’s focused on the mobile phone.
What is allowed? Where is the border?
You will notice for yourself that the only things allowed to say are if the tone is reasonably objective and the criticism is constructive. Making findings of a fact or another person is also allowed, but the tone and choice of words are very crucial. It doesn’t matter if it’s cursing, swearing, groaning or something allowed. The way you say it is the key.
In case of doubt, it is, of course, a matter of discretion, but at the beginning, it would rather take the challenge a little too seriously than too lightly.
Why participate in something like this?
Now you’re for certain wondering why someone should go through such a challenge. Why even bother to take on the task of not swearing, cussing, scolding or ranting for 21 days?
Actually, I was pondering that myself before the start of the challenge too, but the answer became crystal clear relatively quickly after the first few days:
✓ We curse, swear and complain a lot. Really, really way too much!
✓ We swear a lot subconsciously and don’t really notice it anymore.
✓ We complain too much and criticize too little constructively.
✓ We blaspheme too much without remaining objective. Karma is a bi*ch!
“Crap” is the only word that was still allowed, and even that very limited.
What soon Became Clear to me and You will Also Notice:
✓ If you are not allowed to swear, curse or rant, then at some point you will stop thinking about the negative situation that led to this point in the first place.
✓ Your thoughts will become calmer and more relaxed.
✓ You take things as they are and you stress much less.
✓ You become more chilling; also somewhat happier and ‘easy-going.’
✓ You don’t get upset about little details anymore.
Doesn’t Sound Dad, Does It?
My Experiences with the 21-Day Challenge
I have to be quite honest: It took me three trials until I finally made it. Secretly, I kind of thought I needed more tries, but after the first two failed attempts, it actually went quite well. A critical point was on day 12, when I wanted to say ‘dang sh**,’ but broke off in the middle of the word.
Once I had to restart directly on day one. I memorize it clearly – I was riding my bike and felt, for some odd reason, outraged about everything and everyone that day, but mainly about every red light (every traffic light in Los Angeles was red that day. All of them!).
Just imagine, I was running late already, and all the traffic lights were ganging up on me…I spare you the exact words, but more elegantly put, let’s just say that it wasn’t a good day to begin with my challenge.
The second time around, I was on day three, and I was driving somewhere. I remember that I was severely upset about something. To be exact, it was about a woman who was in the middle lane on the highway, driving high-speed and talking carefree on her cell phone.
I could get upset about it now, but I better drop it. In another life, I would have really startled her by riding near close up and honking the horn, or something like that. I just cannot accept recklessness and irresponsibility.
After the first two failed attempts, things actually went quite well. It took a week for the two failed attempts to be ticked off and for me to be aware of how often and at what points in everyday life I curse, swear or complain.
I was not even aware of this: 80 percent of those incidents happened on the road, on the bicycle or by car. The other 20 percent almost always had something to do in the household, for example, if I hit my head somewhere.
After that, the 21 days went by relatively smoothly, or, at least, without any major happenings. Afterward, it was quite easy for me. The first week, however, was tough; really very hard!
Not only have I noticed that I really curse and rant a lot and that I do so unnecessarily in 99 percent of cases. I, furthermore, realized pretty fast that when I’m aware that “I must not curse and swear anyway”, then I also stopped thinking about it very rapidly.
In my experience, the 21 days helped me to become more present – to live in the moment and implement mindfulness. It was good training, and I think I will add it to my once a year routines, as it ensures that I don’t slip back into my old habit of cursing like a sailor.
Finally, I understood all the Buddhist monks who always preach to be calm and relaxed. If you forbid yourself to scold and work yourself into a range, then your thought pattern changes extremely swiftly.
I, then, think to myself: “Swearing or complaining doesn’t make sense altogether.” Hence, I just leave it and stop wasting my time and energy!
You’ll begin to take things a lot more serene and much easier, too. You accept things as they are and have very different thoughts.
When will You Start the Challenge?
The reason for this post is, of course, to share this experience with you. But I would also like to encourage you to try the challenge out for yourself. It has done many beneficial things for me, and it will do the same for you!
When is the best time to start?
Sure, you always have excuses for starting tomorrow or next week. Because X and Y still have to be done, and on the weekends I meet with Z, and there’s always hot stuff and lots of debating going on.
My tip, though, and it really comes from the bottom of my heart: Start today!
If you find it tough to stop cussing or need any other help during your challenge, such as encouragement, a pep talk, eg., or if you simply wish to share your own experiences with us, then please leave a comment below.
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Meanwhile, I’m sending you lots of love, harmony happiness and an abundance of all good things. Always remember that you are beautiful, precious, unique and endlessly loved regardless of what others might say. Thus, keep on shining.