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Using an Expletive to Turn a Curse into a Blessing: THE “YES! THANK YOU” PRACTICE

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

--Melody Beattie


How many times a day do you say, or are tempted to say, some sort of expletive?

“Shit!” Now I am late for my appointment.

“Damn!” I am always so clumsy.

“Crap!” Not again!

I’m not talking necessarily about the kind of word that would get a kindergartner in trouble for saying it. I’m going with the dictionary definition: “an exclamatory word or phrase.” We’re talking about anything between “drat” and ... well, you can fill in the blank.

You drop something. Your technology trips over Mercury’s retrograde. You stub your toe on the coffee table.

And then there are the sanitized versions: “Dam!” “Heck!” “Good Grief!” “Mamma mia!” “Freakin’... “ In less tolerant times, the language of “curse words” was recognized as having power to not only bring social judgments, but also to attract negative consequences to ourselves, so we whitewashed them a bit.

How many times per day do you utter an expletive aloud, or mutter it to yourself, under your breath? How many times per day do you unconsciously grit your teeth, or tighten your shoulders, or clench your gut as something does not go your way? Both usual and unexpected pressures can create the subconscious feeling of stress which we then lock into our bodies through the reflexive action of the sympathetic nervous system (ie. the pathways for “fight or flight or freeze”.) Research has shown these physical reactions to stress, often completely outside our awareness, are responsible for many conditions, from headaches to irritable bowel syndrome to hypertension to chronic pain.

When we encounter unwanted obstacles to to what our ego wants, we generally resort to three options:

  • directing responsibility outside ourselves with blame,

  • pointing the finger at ourselves with guilt, or

  • cursing ourselves with shame.

Here we add our YES! THANK YOU” Practice to this list of possible responses.

It is a lightning-quick practice to bring mindful awareness to our habitual micro-aggressions against ourselves.

“YES! THANK YOU. I dropped my phone.”