a nail-biting finish

this post is a bit of a departure from the fitness/weight-loss stuff that I usually write about here, however it does fit the overall theme of creating change, moving towards whatever-it-is-you-want and so on.

it relates to an issue that has been with me for the best part of 40 years, is relatively harmless, but annoys the crap out of some people and has been on the “to do” list for some years now.

a chronic case of onychophagia

from “onchyo” meaning “nail”, and “phagia” meaning “eating” – literally nail eating. yum.

basically I’ve been a nail picker and biter for as long as I can remember. i have no idea how/when it started, nor am I sure why I do it.

supposedly most people grow out of it by the time they’ve seen out their teen years, but I reckon it’s actually pretty common among adults from 20 through to 120. particularly men I think.

various reasons exist for this habit, ranging from being linked to obsessive-compulsive behaviour, to boredom, nervousness and stress.

in my case I reckon it may have been a combination of that last 3, some time in the distant past. but these days I think it’s just a deeply ingrained habit.

overall it is relatively harmless

in the grand scheme of things, it’s a harmless habit, however it is a bit annoying for other people.

another problem with biting and pickin gnails is I often find myself picking away, thinking to myself “you should probably stop now” and then continuing anyway. this usually leads to soreness and discomfort that lasts for a few days or more.

as someone who uses computers professionally, sore fingers are noticeable when I spend so much typing.

and it makes for horrible-looking fingers, let’s be honest (see exhibit a below this post)

how and why i’m going to quit this habit now

my main motivation is simply that it’s something that’s just sat there niggling away for some time now. a secondary motivation is that I’ve always fancied the idea of getting back into learning to play the guitar; sore fingers and a lack of nails aren’t particularly helpful with that!

I also reckon that a lot of the skills, techniques and attitudes I’ve developed in the past year (losing weight, exercising regularly, training for a marathon etc.)  could be used to finally put an end to this habit.

in particular things like:

  • being mindful of behaviour (similar to being aware of what I am stuffing in my gob)
  • keeping an inner ear out for the internal conversations that try to undermine the objective
  • having the mental determination (stubborness) to see things through

so far, so good

now I know it’s early days, but it’s always good to celebrate a victory, no matter how small…

I decided to do something about this about 24 hours ago, and am pleased to report that so far I have gone 24 hours without a single pick or bite…

there have been 2 instances that I can recall where I had to pull back from the brink of a little pick, bit generally speaking simply having this issue at the front of my mind seems to be keeping the habitual behaviour at bay…

long may it last!

exhibit a – warning, not recommended for viewing by young children…

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