You have probably heard of hypnosis being used for smoking cessation and weight loss and so you went searching for a way that you could solve your problem with hypnosis as well. After all, nail biting is a habit just like smoking isn’t it? Well yes, and no.
Nail biting is a habit, but there is no drug intake as a result of biting your nails like there is with smoking a cigarette, or a cigar, or chewing tobacco. So you might think that nail biting should be an easier habit to change, but this is probably not true. Let’s first see what a habit is and then see if we can figure out why different habits should require different methods to change.
Habits are behaviors that have been followed so often that they became routine and familiar patterns. The neural pathways that control our muscles reflexes have become so well worn by the behavior that we naturally just follow it’s path without thinking about it at all. Habits are created through repetition. When we continue to behave a certain way we are making it easier to do that behavior in the future.
Smoking cigarettes becomes a habit after we have smoked for awhile. We make associations between the behavior and whatever we are doing at the time. Being around certain people might become a trigger for smoking. Doing certain things like driving, talking on the phone, working on the computer can become associated with smoking. So that whenever you do those activities you automatically reach for a cigarette.
Nail biting is different than just habitual smoking. Biting your nails usually is learned as a way of dealing with a feeling. It often starts when you are very young. As babies often suck on their fingers, when they get older they may start to bite on their nails. It’s the same movement of hand to mouth, but a different focus. Sometimes you feel a need to do something with your hands. Not using your hands leads to you feeling nervous. Biting your fingernails gives you something to do and focuses your mind on biting your fingernails instead of the nervous feelings inside.
So biting nails becomes a distraction from the nervous or anxious feeling. And it is a response to that emotion, and not just a plain habit. So working with you on your nail biting behavior usually involves addressing the feeling that is causing the behavior as well. When you learn to be more relaxed naturally you lose your need for nail biting. And hypnosis is one of the best methods to use to train your mind to feel relaxed instead of nervous. One of the ways that hypnosis to stop nail biting will be successful is to train you to release that old nervous or anxious feeling so that the need for nail biting goes away.
The other focus of hypnosis to stop nail biting is removing the action of hand to mouth from the unconscious mind and recognizing whenever your hand moves toward your mouth. When you realize your hand is moving to your mouth you then have time to choose to put your hand down. And you create a new healthier response.