I've bitten my nails ever since I could chew, and now that I'm older, I really wish I could stop. It's time to kick this habit and let my nails finally grow, but I've tried over and over again and I always cave in and bite as soon any white appears.
I have even tried that nasty tasting nail polish that is supposed to prevent you from putting your hands in your mouth - but that doesn't work for me. I suck it up and bite my nails anyway. Please help me find a way to stop biting. Nubby Nadia
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Dear Nubby Nadia
Like any psychological habit, it's going to take self control and discipline. Put mind over matter. If you are at the point where you can recognize that you've got a problem, then you are old enough to control your impulse.
Nail biting is a nervous habit that starts for one reason and then continues for another. It probably started at a time in your life when you really were nervous, and that was how you expended your nervous energy. But well after that anxiety went away the habit stayed. So now, any time you get nervous - you bite.
Nail biting is also an oral fixation. Here are some ways to keep occupied when you feel yourself getting ready for a nibble:
- Response Prevention. If you are home, put on a pair of gloves. You aren't going to eat through a pair of gloves (well, I hope not).
- Hypnosis. Nail biters often complain that they aren't even consciously aware they are biting. You can buy a hypnosis script here to help your unconscious mind combat the struggle as well.
- Dr Phil says that, "You don't break habits. You replace one behavior with a new behavior." If biting your nails is helping you with your nerves, then try putting something in its place. Take a deep breath, get up and go for a walk or maybe even listen to music, or check your e-mail. Basically what you are trying to do is distract yourself.
- Get regular manicures. If you are paying to have your nails done each week, then you are putting a monetary value on your hands. It may help you to think twice before ruining your manicure and throwing your money away.
The good news is that once you break the cycle, it can go away forever. Nail biting is just a habit, it's not an irreversible condition. But it's going to take a commitment and will power.