Disgusting Habits

Last modified on October 12th, 2009

Some of us have them, some don’t. As for me, I’ve been chewing my nails pretty much my whole life. I really don’t know how it started to be honest, but once it did, my fingers have never really been the same.

I tried that polish you put on them that tastes bad, but that didn’t even come close to stopping me. Basically you just get used to the foul taste and chew anyways. The thing is, most of the time it’s not even conscious, it’s just one of those things I end up doing while driving or sitting on the couch.

There are lots of famous nail biters, so I know I’m not alone. Elijah Wood (Frodo from Lord of the Rings) is pretty bad — if you look at some of the scenes where he’s twirling the ring in his fingers, he doesn’t have much nail left.

I’m going to make an effort to finally stop over the next little while. I know once I manage to grow them full length again that it’ll no longer be a problem, but getting to that point is going to be pretty difficult, mainly because I don’t even really notice myself doing it. But I haven’t really touched them in 36 hours or so, so I’m hoping to just keep distracting myself so that I don’t bite them.

I’ve been told you can’t break habits cold turkey from a psychological point of view — you can only replace one habit with another. So I’m going to replace it with something else, maybe reading, maybe snapping photos, or maybe cleaning. Just something to pass the time whenever my brain decides it needs to chew.

Here goes.

7 responses to “Disgusting Habits”

  1. Laura says:

    I have this problem as well! The only thing that works for me is to get a manicure which I then won’t want to mess up. I’m assuming you will not be into that solution though. They do have MAN manicures tho! And then maybe you wouldn’t want to mess it up since you had already been foolish enough to pay for a MANicure!

  2. Lynn C says:

    I think sometimes it’s situational / emotional too. I used to play with my eyelashes while studying…and every so often I would look down at my book and there would be a giant pile of eyelashes all over the pages. And my thumbnail would be black with mascara.

    So I replaced that with twizzling my hair which wasn’t so bad I guess, and then I graduated, so I don’t do too much of either anymore. Sometimes though, and it’s usually anxiety related fidgeting.

    Good luck with your mission…it’s hard!

  3. Beth says:

    I’ve also been a nail biter/nail ripper (my nails are really thin, so often I just rip them by hand) for a long time, but recently have been wearing nail polish, since that seems to prevent me from biting (although probably not something you would want to do!). Unfortunately, now that my nails are a reasonable length, I seem to have replaced the nail biting habit with scratching – meaning that any time I have a cut now, I scratch it and pick the scab and it doesn’t heal (speaking of disgusting habits, eh?). I actually think the nail biting was probably a better habit!

  4. Duane Storey says:

    @Laura – Actually, I had a friend of mine try and give me a manicure once. She gave up due to lack of nail to work with.

    @Lynn – Yah, I have a few nervous habits. I twirl the hair on the back of my head quite a bit when I’m thinking. In fact, usually in other people’s photos from conferences you’ll see me in the distance talking to someone while twirling my hair. One of those little ticks.

  5. Duncan says:

    You should try guided self hypnosis. The sub concious mind is extremely powerful. One session done correctly could break the habit forever.

  6. Dale Mugford says:

    You can only replace the unconscious with the unconscious, so it’s a pickle. Sara got over her nail biting, but I was there to remind her and help as well. Maybe install a bunch of mirrors?

  7. Tracy says:

    I used to bite my nails when I was little, then it became hair pulling. In middle school I used to pull my hair out, I actually had a small bald spot. Thankfully that stopped. Then I began to bite at my nails but not break them, I also started painting them, I find that helps because I want to keep them looking pretty. Now my bad habit is smoking when I’m stressed, all my life I was anti-smoking but something just clicked in my head at the start of the year and I found that was the only way for me to calm down. Thankfully I’ll maybe smoke once a day, or every other day… this is my new bad habit to break.

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