How I Broke a Lifelong Bad Habit

bad habits

Nail bitting may not seem like a big deal to you but it is to me. I started bitting my nails as a kid. My dad would bite his nails too so I guess I just mimicked him. For years people would tell me to stop but I didn’t care. I didn’t see it as a problem and I even justified my reasoning by jokingly saying that it helped build up my immune system – being exposed to germs and all.

Over my lifetime, I’ve tried to stop many times. I applied nasty stuff to my nails, I would sit on my hands and I often would talk to myself saying how stupid it looked. I really got to a point where I really didn’t think I could stop.

Being a person that believes that “anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it” this was bothering me. I was truly addicted to this stupid behaviour the same way an addict is addicted to alcohol, gambling or cigarettes.

I felt like I had cigarettes tied to my hands 24/7.

Then I started meditating everyday and things started to change. Meditation has a weird way of pulling you outside of your frame of mind so you can see the whole picture. I started to become mindful of how I felt when I would catch myself bitting my nails. I noticed that I did it when I was anxious, bored or thinking about the future.

I realized through meditation that bitting my nails was a symptom of something deeper. It was a soothing mechanism the same way a “blanky” is to a child or a dog toy to a dog. I thought about the sight of my dog bitting his paws to the point of bleeding every day. That it would be clear to me that something was off and that he was stressed.

The nail bitting was a symptom of a deeper anxiety I had that was passed on to me. That my dad wasn’t just bitting his nails either.

I was already eating right and exercising regularly but now I gave up coffee and anything that would raise my adrenaline. I realized that the way I had viewed life up to that point perpetuated anxiety. How I was always chasing instead of celebrating. I took the advice I told all my clients “that the change you seek externally can only happen by changing internally”.

I changed my views on many aspects of my life that were keeping me in this anxious state.

Much of that was to stop clinging to things. Clinging to people. Clinging to how I looked to everyone else. Clinging to hate. Clinging to the way things are “suppose” to be.

The more I meditated and the more I released my grip on these thing the less I bit my nails. When I would catch myself bitting it meant I was anxious. Where in the past I would have beaten myself up for failing instead I would stop and focus on taking a few long breaths. I would feel myself instantly calm down and continue on. My breath became my anchor.

It’s been about a year now that I’ve stopped bitting my nails completely.

I was weary to write this post for a long time in fear of slipping back but I’m glad to say that I’ve finally kicked the habit.

And it’s true, you can do anything you put your mind to.

Also published on Medium.

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