Everyone has at least one bad habit that they can’t shake, something that has stuck with you for your entire life. They can be anything really: cracking fingers, picking your nose, smoking, lack-night snacking, etc. But everyone has at least one.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been biting my nails. It’s been a bad habit that has accompanied me through my entire life.
How Do They Form?
Bad habits form through repetition. It’s something I started doing when I was very young and it stuck with me. Simply doing something repeatedly will create a habit, good or bad.
Through this process, your brain shuts off during the habit because it becomes second nature. Before I even realized, I was already nail deep in my mouth.
Luckily, humans are easily adaptable and change is on the horizon. Habits are able to be broken, but it will take work and discipline.
1) Singling Out The Habit
“Each year one vicious habit discarded, in time might make the worst of us good” – Benjamin Franklin
Write down all the bad habits you have and choose one. There is no sense in tackling all of them at once. Pick one that bothers you the most and run with it. For me, it’s nail biting.
2) Don’t Pull The Trigger
Triggers are essentially what make you do the bad habit. List all the triggers that influence your bad habit. Next, write down possible way to deal with those triggers or avoid them completely.
When I am idle, I bite my nails. My brain doesn’t clue in until after I’m done. My trigger is being idle. Now all, I have to avoid idle hands. I try to distract my hands when I know the possibility of the habit might arise.
When I was younger, I played with Lego, pretty much constantly. While searching through all those multi-colored blocks, I completely forgot to bite my nails. It just never occurred to me.
3) Ask your friends/family
Enlist your friends in your quest to fight the bad habit. Tell them that you are trying to fix ___________ and you need their help. They can stand between you and your natural unconsciousness tendencies.
My mother, to do this day, slaps my hand from my mouth and nags relentlessly. It’s her form of policing. I appreciate the sentiment and it makes me think twice.
Lastly, remember, bad habits are something that everyone has. You are not alone in this endeavor. For most people breaking a bad habit is a lifetime effort but taking the first step to battle it is often enough.
I still bite my nails from time to time, but being aware of the habit has helped me fix sooner than later.
So go forth, choose one habit and conquer it.
The feeling of defeating it, is like none other.