I bet your parents told you that cursing was inappropriate, ill-mannered, and forbidden. I bet they taught you that profanity was for punks. Guess what? They lied.
In a way, your parents did you a favor because they helped you learn that profanity was special—to be stored in a separate part of the brain. This gave profanity an extra punch—extraordinary meaning. Because people are taught that profanity is taboo, we associate it with something exceptional.
Think about it. When you stub your toe and yell, “Shit!” it hurts a little less. Research shows that using profanity when we feel physical pain actually reduces the pain. Shut the front door because it also works with emotional pain.
This is the premise behind Move on Motherf*cker, or MOMF (pronounced Mom-f). MOMF is the mashup of cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness techniques with positivity and profanity to induce laughter and cathartic relief of emotional pain.
In brief, here is how MOMF works:
When something bad happens, you pay attention to your self-talk and all the negative things you say to yourself based on you distorted core beliefs. You notice how you are choosing to play the motherf*cker in the situation, creating your own suffering, and you call it out. You can use the word motherf*cker or any other profanity that suits your tastes. The point is to argue back with your self-talk using an extra punch. It is being mindful of how you are choosing to play the victim or choosing to wallow, and holding yourself accountable to change any time you wish.
MOMF is not being self-abusive or judgmental. It is talking to yourself like a really good friend would talk to you. It is being encouraging about choice. It is empowering to recognize that you can improve your painful situation whenever you are ready. MOMF is about finding a way to call yourself out so that you feel able to move on, but the calling out involves humor. Humor is acknowledging the ridiculousness of the situation and/or what we are doing. When are able to laugh at ourselves, we get another wave of emotional release. Profanity and humor are effective ways to jolt yourself back to the reality of what you can and cannot control.
You can also use MOMF to encourage yourself with affirmations or positive, proactive self-talk about not taking the bait in unproductive conversations or interactions. You can learn to pump yourself up with profanity. It is being your own best friend by telling it like it is.
MOMF is not for everyone. It is not for folks who will use it to self-abuse. It is not for grief or abuse situations. MOMF is ideal for:
- Increasing self-awareness in tough situations
- Catching and letting go of habitual, negative self-talk
- Changing patterns of self-defeating behavior
- Managing daily stress
- Dealing with difficult people and relationships
- Building healthier relationships (and letting go of the unfixable ones)
- Managing disappointment
- Managing work stress
- Setting boundaries
- Managing excessive worry
- Overcoming regret
- Managing negative emotions
- Reaching goals and potential
Jodie Eckleberry-Hunt, PhD, ABPP, is a board-certified health psychologist who has been in professional practice for more than nineteen years. She lives in Michigan with her family, including the family treasure, Bacon—the dog prince.