Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

In school I am always surrounded by words that are offensive to me. Every day I hear these words, and now they are repeated in my head subconsciously and I don’t like it. How do I avoid these words and get them out of my head?

New Era

  • Associate with friends who have high ideals and respect your standards.

  • In a polite way, let your friends know you don’t appreciate offensive language.

  • Your mind can think about only one thing at a time, so keep your mind engaged with positive thoughts.

  • Choose a hymn and think through it to get rid of unclean thoughts.

  • Remember, when you are desensitized to offensive language, you are less likely to recognize promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Trying not to be exposed to offensive language at school can be a lot like swimming in a pool of water and trying not to get wet.

You will hear things at school that you would rather not hear. However, that doesn’t mean you should be content to swim in a pool of profanity. There are ways to avoid some offensive language. And if some of it does stick in your head—like things you don’t want to remember tend to do—there are ways to get rid of those thoughts.

In school you don’t always have control over who is around you. When you can choose, make sure you choose friends who respect your standards. When you can’t choose, and if you feel it is appropriate, let those around you know, in a polite way, that you don’t appreciate offensive language.

“The mind is like a stage,” says President Boyd K. Packer. “Except when we are asleep, the curtain is always up. …

“Have you noticed that, without any real intent on your part and almost in the midst of any performance, a shady little thought may creep in from the wings and endeavor to attract your attention? … If you permit them to go on, all other thoughts, of any virtue, will leave the stage. You will be left, because you consented to it, to the influence of unworthy thoughts” (That All May Be Edified, 38).

Unlike other stages, the stage of your mind allows only one performer at a time because you can think of only one thought at a time. President Packer says that when your mind’s stage is occupied by unwanted thoughts, like offensive language, you should remove them with your favorite hymn. “Anytime you find that these shady actors have slipped in from the sideline of your thinking onto the stage of your mind, think through this hymn. … It will change the whole mood on the stage of your mind. Because it is clean and uplifting and reverent, the baser thoughts will leave” (39).

Since your mind can think about only one thing at a time, keeping your mind anxiously engaged with positive thoughts can be a way to keep offensive words out of your mind. If you keep busy with school, work, church, service, and family activities, you can keep offensive actors off your stage.

If you don’t do anything to avoid offensive words or get them out of your mind, you can become desensitized. When you are desensitized to offensive language, you are less likely to recognize promptings of the Holy Ghost. You may also forget how disgusted you once were with that language and find yourself slipping and using words that used to make you cringe.

President Boyd K. Packer

“Choose from among the sacred music of the Church one favorite hymn. … Anytime you find that … shady actors have slipped in from the sideline of your thinking onto the stage of your mind, think through this hymn” (That All May Be Edified, 38–39). —President Boyd K. Packer Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve

Readers

There is tremendous power in music. When I am faced with inappropriate thoughts, I begin to go over hymns in my head. I find that rather than becoming frustrated and angry when those thoughts pop up, I can use that time to slow down and really meditate on the words and messages of the songs. Both the music and lyrics invite the Spirit into my heart.

Elder Tyler Probasco, 19 California Riverside Mission

I am often faced with this situation. I find it best to politely ask people if they could not use vulgar language around me. Most people are nicer than you think. If they don’t quit, just leave. Don’t forget you can always ask the Lord for help.

Rachel Quito, 16 Mesa, Arizona

When I say my prayers at night, I ask my Heavenly Father to help me not be influenced by the bad language. When I’m faced with such language the next day, I think of my prayer, and that helps to block the negative influences.

Janica Roane, 13 Clinton, Utah

I have found that the best way to rid your mind of offensive words is to think of your favorite scripture or hymn. Then repeat it over and over to yourself until the bad words are forgotten and you can feel the Spirit once again.

Barry Fulk, 16 Paris, Illinois

What I do to help me block out my surroundings is to bring a good, wholesome book with me.

Melissa Zachreson, 17 Phenix City, Alabama

[photo] Photography by Welden Andersen. Posed by models