When I was a kid, I used to bite my nails. It was a nervous habit, and often times, my fingers would be left bleeding and in pain.
One day, my parents bought me a special kind of nail polish that purposefully had a bad taste. The intention was to make my nails taste so awful that I would stop biting my nails. Did it work?
I continued biting my nails through high school and into college. As a music performance major playing the flute, biting my nails could sometimes get in the way my work as a student. If I needed to put a band-aid on my fingers, I wouldn’t be able to cover the holes on my instrument, which got in the way of practicing. It would also get in the way of my class note taking and paper typing. On top of that, I noticed I was getting sick a lot. I wasn’t doing a good job of avoiding putting my fingers in my mouth! So, of course, I was picking up every illness on campus. Gross, right?!
I remember having a conversation with myself about my nail biting.
“How could you do this to yourself?” I asked myself. I pointed out the times that nail biting had gotten in my way or caused me to get sick and really be unable to participate in my life.
“What would it be like to not have this issue anymore?” I asked.
I imagined a pain and band-aid-free life. It was wonderful. I also imagined fewer illnesses. Even better!
Over the next several weeks, I would catch myself in the act of nail biting, reminding myself of all the reasons I wanted to stop. I would visualize my life with beautiful, whole nails.
One day, I realized that all of my fingernails were intact. And, it had been a while since I’d been sick. There were fewer disruptions in my ability to participate in tasks involving my hands. I’d done it- I quit biting my nails!
Not only was I enjoying the physical benefits of having kicked that habit, I also noticed an emotional benefit. I could TRUST myself again.
Self-trust is the theme of this episode of Growing in Uncertainty. I talk about the benefits of self-trust, how it can help with any self-doubt in life, and ways of developing more of it for yourself.