Nail Biting and Me: A History.

If asked to pinpoint the moment I started biting my nails, I would be unable to. I could tell you the dates of each time I have made a serious commitment to stopping; I could tell you promises (many of them financial) that were made to me if I could see through my resolution to kick the habit; I could even tell you some of the odd things I have found myself drawn to (no innuendos please) in the days following a cold-turkey quitting but, to tell you when I started, impossible.

I have bitten my nails forever. I just did it right there while my fingers momentarily came to a rest before beginning to type again. Why it started and how it became a habit, I do not know. I think to know would help me to understand and so each time the time to quit rolls around it is accompanied with some self psycho-analysis.

My mum used to bite her nails but she stopped when she got engaged, before I was born. So I can’t blame it on her unless there exists a genetic disposition toward certain habits. Does there?

At first and for the longest time I would have said that it was down to stress and anxiety. I know that for many people it is. While it is true that at moments where my stress levels feel particularly triggered I bite or pick at my nails, it is also true that I stopped and maintained long, beautiful nails during an especially busy period of my life.

So if it isn’t caused by stress and if I can stop it in stressful moments and turn to other ways of expressing worry, than what is behind it all? I dare say that some days I think it might be boredom. Am I picking at the skin or biting the nails simply because my mind has nothing else to think about, nothing else to focus on?

Having given up chocolate for January and found it, even down to the last day, remarkably easier than what I had imagined it would be, I decided that in February – along with re-learning Irish – I would give up that old bugbear: nail biting. I’d done it before, stopped just like that on November 26th 2017, so there would be no issues, right?

Wrong. There are issues.

Time and time over I have proved that I possess will power and determination. I can go without and enjoy the sensation; I can take on challenges and see them through to the end; I am stubborn beyond belief when it comes to beating myself at something so you’ll understand why it drives me mad that I cannot seem to kick this habit.

I’ve wondered if it is because I know I don’t need to however I didn’t need to give up chocolate and I did. And, to be honest, I do need to have nice nails. I miss wearing jewellery. I miss not feeling super self-conscious when playing the piano. I want to be able to get engaged and feel proud of myself when I tell people, not dread the moment they ask to see the ring.

If I knew that my partner was going to propose would I let them grow? Truth, probably not. Could I let them grow in anticipation of a proposal? Yes. So why don’t I?!

It is frustrating not to understand why I do something that bothers others and bothers me. I don’t like to see other people doing it and I have baulked at the sight of nails bitten down too far (I’m sure you know what I mean). The fact that I know how people might be reacting to me puts me off myself and yet I continue. I persist.

The gels you can buy to rub on your nails or around the skin, I have tried. I know that the way for me to stop is just to stop but I find such difficulty in it. When I stopped in November 2017 it was for nothing in particular, with no reward on the horizon. When I started again it was during a period of calm, a period during which the rest of my life fell perfectly into harmony. The happiness I felt was total, I didn’t even feel that my nail biting affected it.

I can be happy with and without nice nails so perhaps in that there is the answer? If my happiness doesn’t depend on their appearance and is unaffected by that, then what is the point of stopping or starting either way?

The fact that I bite them though still gets on my nerves.

How do I stop?



  1. Habits are hard to break. Take smoking, for instance. Sometimes it is more about he oral satisfaction than the nicotine. Probably the same with nail biting. Perhaps you could substitute something else to bite on? Love yourself either way…that’s the answer!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am at my wits end with it Valerie! I did try having some gum to chew on before now that you mention it and Iโ€™m not sure if it helped or not. When I stopped before it was out of the blue and with nothing else to substitute in for the habit. Thatโ€™s what annoys me about it – the not knowing!!! But your comment makes me remember not to be so harsh – actually there are way worse things I could be doing than nail biting. Thank you ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I quit smoking in a long slow process that had started with only smoking half a death stick at a time, and then less often until I was down to one a day. And then, once day I went 24 hrs without a smoke, and I challenged myself to see of i could make it another, hour, and so so on. Start small. For today, you won’t bite your nails while typing or playing the piano. Build up on your success. You got this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Liz and thanks for sharing your own success. You did so well to break a smoking habit – I know from friends how challenging that can be and how determined you need to be. You have my admiration! ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Try Nail Magic, its a clear polish and makes them long and strong quickly, once you see them looking nice, perhaps that’s will be your inspiration. Also wear pretty rings, they’ll catch you eye and encourage you to want pretty nails, good luck, but I think you can do it if you REALLY want to!

    Liked by 1 person

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