Nail biting is one of those habits that is so common in both children and adults. I know this only too well because I was a nail-biter from a very early age. Children often copy the behaviour of their parents, until it becomes automatic within them. In my case, I copied my father, picked up the habit from him and it ended up staying with me for almost 30 years! Other habits that children can copy from their parents are phobias – if parents constantly repeat that something is to be feared, children will inevitably start fearing the object that causes the fear in their parents. Yes, many phobias are simply inherited. But that is another topic and you can read about phobias here (Hypnotherapy for anxiety, stress, phobias ).
If the nail biting habit is not copied from parents or other significant caregivers, then the two major causes for it are stress and anxiety. Nail biting often becomes a way of coping with these as the body produces feel-good neurotransmitters (serotonin and endorphins) when a person bites their nails. This is simply because the body is reacting to the initial pain of nail biting. Therefore, many nail biters will tell you that it makes them feel good and, surely enough, that it almost feels like an addiction. However, through the constant repetition of putting fingers in one’s mouth and biting them, it becomes an automatic process. As a result, people will bite their nails even when they are not particularly stressed and they may often bite their nails without even realising that they are doing it.
Nail biting is not something people like to do but simply end up doing subconsciously. It feels like it is almost impossible to stop no matter how hard you try. Nail biters often feel embarrassed and self-conscious but can feel powerless when it comes to stopping the habit. Moreover, it can be a rather dangerous habit too, due to all kinds of bacteria and dirt getting into our bodies via the hands.
So, the nail biting habit needs to be seen for what it is – a habit that became so automatic that people engage in it even without thinking. As I said earlier, I have first hand experience with it. I successfully used hypnotherapy to break my nail biting habit a few years ago and I haven’t bitten my nails since. It was the experience of stopping biting my nails (as well as stopping smoking) through hypnotherapy that led me to train and become a hypnotherapist myself.
So how can hypnotherapy help?
I have successfully dealt with the nail biting habit and helped many people to stop it. Hypnotherapy is used to break the automatic nature, repetition and compulsion which are at the core of the nail biting habit. It is literally ‘rewiring’ and changing your subconscious brain patterns so that you do not engage in these any longer. Gradually, you will become conscious and aware of your automatic nail biting behaviour, will be able to control the urge to do it and eventually you will be able to stop the process completely.
Hypnotherapy can also be useful in helping you to control and cope with anxiety and stress so that you don’t have to use nail biting in order to deal with it. I can teach you various techniques that you can use to help to yourself relax and control stress. And, if you are a woman (or an enlightened man!), your reward may also be in being able to go and have your nails done professionally. I can tell you, it is a great feeling!
I am a trained analytical hypnotherapist based in Dunfermline, Fife, only 30 minutes away from Edinburgh and I can help you stop biting your nails just as I helped to do so to many others.