Are you or were you ever a nail biter?
When I was in elementary school, I used to bite my nails like something fierce. It wasn’t due to anxiety. Looking back now, I think that I picked up the bad habit from observational learning.
My older brother bit his nails all the time, and growing up, I watched him and then one day just played copycat. Before I knew it, chewing on my nails came as naturally to me as breathing.
My mother would always tell me to stop because there are bacteria and germs under your nails, so it’s very unhealthy (not to mention gross)! Sometimes she’d even literally slap my hands out of my mouth…and because I wouldn’t expect that, sometimes my jagged nails would cut my gums when she did that! Lesson learned.
In today’s Smorgasbord Sundays post, I’ll share my experiences on nail biting and also tell you how I was able to nix nail biting by the time I entered high school.
Although nail biting doesn’t contain addictive chemicals like cigarettes do, the bad habit can be very addictive! You may not even know you’re doing it until you’ve mauled your own fingers.
I used to bite my nails sometimes until they would bleed. And the tips of my nails were always jagged and ugly.
Then, one day, I decided to nix the habit like a mooching boyfriend.
I was tired of being ashamed of the way my nails looked. I would often hide my hands in pockets or fold my arms and tuck in my hands to keep them out of sight! And whenever someone saw my hands, I always felt embarrassed and wondered what they must think of me.
After all, there’s an imposed societal standard that says females should have prettier hands and fingers than males. But if you looked at my nails back then, they were truly disgusting-looking, and it made me feel less girly. (I wasn’t a tomboy and I wasn’t overly girly, but having jagged nails made me feel less girly.)
It was at that moment when I realized just how unsightly my nails were and how it was affecting my behaviour that I decided enough was enough! There are so many bigger things in the world to worry about, and if you can stop hurting yourself, that’s one less problem on your plate.
The funny thing was that the whole time I was thinking about doing that, I realized that my fingers were in my mouth, and I was biting away…haha!
My own actions disgusted me. And then I worried about not being able to stop biting my nails. I mean, it seemed so natural for me to bite them, and sometimes I wouldn’t even realize I was doing it until I was biting for a while.
The first strategy I used was to start painting my nails. Unfortunately, this failed for me. I ended up biting my nails, and that scared me because I ate the polish – that’s verrrrryyy unhealthy! So I stopped that technique since it probably did more harm than good.
My next and final strategy (that actually worked) was that every time I would catch myself biting my nails, I’d stop as soon as possible. It took a little while, but eventually I would stop even putting my fingers in my mouth.
The thing is that I didn’t even notice the exact moment when I stopped biting my nails. But, one day, I looked down at my nails. They weren’t jagged. They were smooth! (For a former nail biter, this is something that you feel reallllly proud of – makes you feel so good!)
And since then, I’ve never bitten my nails or even felt the urge to bite them.
[Oh, and in case you're curious, my brother (who'll be turning 40 in a few years) still bites his nails! I don't think he ever wanted to stop the habit.]
So, if you’re a nail biter, I empathize with you. I know that it’s hard to quit, and that it’s a habit you may be ashamed of. I hope that with will power and time, you’ll be able to stop because it really hurts you, not just esthetically, but I think psychologically, too. Nail biting can be almost like Linus’ blanket or what a pacifier is to a baby. I just don’t think it’s healthy.
I hope that you’ll try the second strategy I mentioned, and that it also works for you. Don’t expect it to work overnight – it’s a gradual thing.
Some people buy special nail treatments that you paint on like polish, except it’s actually safe to consume. It’s supposed to give your nails a verrrry bad taste, and then that will deter you. You might want to look into it.
Mainly, you have to want to quit in order to be successful. Once you’re motivated, that’s what will propel you and encourage you to continue until you’re successful. You can’t rely on other people to tell you to stop. (Remember how my mom would keep telling me? I wouldn’t listen. I had to tell myself.)
Also, try to imagine your goal of having decent-looking nails. Then, look up photos of nail polishes you like. Reward yourself with them when you’re successful…because I know you will be if you put the iron fist down on yourself.
P.S. In case you’re curious to see my nail-art tutorials for the designs in the above image, you can find them here:
Did you ever bite your nails? Do you currently bite your nails? What are some bad habits that you’re trying to quit?