Mark Spalek is a Clinical Hypnotherapist, NLP Practitioner and Director of Positive Blossom Limited. He runs a busy practice in Leicester, Positive Suggestions Hypnotherapy, based in the UK and is registered with the General Hypnotherapy Register (validated by the General Hypnotherapy Standards Council). He is continually driving his therapeutic techniques forward through innovation, research and dedication.
Here are some of my biggest tips for stopping nail biting, which I have put together from the many techniques I have used with clients who wish to stop biting their nails:
Big Tip 1: Anchoring A Positive Affirmation
One of the best things you can do at the start of your journey to stop biting your nails is to write a positive affirmation for stopping nail biting on a Post-it note, card or a piece of paper.
Place the note, card or paper in a place where you can see it everyday. Because our minds are designed to process the environment around us, the positive affirmation serves as an unconscious ‘prompt’ to keep us focussed on the task in hand, which is to stop biting and chewing our nails!
It’s important to write the positive affirmation in the PRESENT TENSE since we are working with the unconscious part of our mind, that part that takes things literally and does not know the difference between what is real and what is fantasy. So if we ‘tell’ our unconscious mind that we have already stopped biting our nails it can take this literally and work towards achieving this goal.
It’s also important to keep the positive affirmation as simple to understand as you can – the mind does not process ambiguous requests very efficiently.
Some good examples of positive affirmations:
‘I Stop Biting My Nails’
‘My Nails Are Beautiful’
‘I Have Long Healthy Nails’
You can use the above affirmations or write your own.
Big Tip 2: Identify Your Triggers For Biting
Take a few moments now to really think about the nail biting and as you do so become aware of the triggers for the habit. Do you do it without thinking about it? Does it happen when you are stressed? Is it something that you do when you are bored?
Allow yourself to think about the triggers for the nail biting and when you are ready, write the triggers down on a piece of paper. For example:
Triggers For Biting My Nails:
– Stressed in front of a computer at work
– Watching TV at home
– In a meeting with people I don’t know
Now imagine each situation that used to trigger the old habit but this time imagine yourself in that situation dealing with the trigger in a way that no longer involves biting your nails. Imagine yourself dealing with each situation or trigger in a healthy way instead. For example, if you find that you bite your nails when you are stressed in front of a computer at work, imagine yourself in front of the computer now but feeling calm and relaxed, with your breathing steady and your hands well away from your mouth.
As you imagine yourself in each situation focus on your breathing and allow your mind and body to relax.
Once you have done this exercise write down your experience: What was different about you in each situation? How did you deal with each situation or trigger? How did you feel experiencing yourself dealing with each trigger without the nail biting? What were you thinking about as you imagined yourself dealing with each situation or trigger.
Write your experience down, for example:
– I imagined myself sitting in front of the computer and relaxing my mind and body by taking several long deep breaths. I imagined any anxiety floating away like a balloon and kept my hands away from my mouth.
Now you have a blueprint for dealing with triggers in a healthier way that no longer involves biting and chewing your nails.
Tip: Spend a couple of minutes each day mentally rehearsing the responses you have written down to allow these responses to become embedded into your unconscious.
Big Tip 3: Be In The Present
Most bad things that we do are often done without us realising it. They start as unconscious processes and in the case of nail biting, only become conscious once we’ve chewed half of our nails off or felt pain or even made our fingers bleed. Then we become VERY conscious of the nail biting but it is too late!
In order to take control of and get rid of our nail biting it’s important to bring this habit into conscious awareness. This is something that the ‘Stop Biting Nails’ audio hypnotherapy session focuses upon and the following exercise is something that you can do to enhance the process of being consciously aware of the habit.
Here’s what you do to practice being PRESENT with yourself (read through first before trying):
1. Bring your hand up towards your face.
2. Before your hand reaches your mouth focus carefully upon the lines on the palm of your hand. As you do this so you become fully present and in the moment with respect to the movement of the hand towards your mouth.
3. Be aware of your breathing as you focus on the lines on your palm.
4. Slowly lower the hand and place it on your lap.
5. Repeat a few times to get good at doing this.
Practice this technique several times each day (it only takes 3 minutes) and you will begin to interrupt the unconscious movement of the hand towards your mouth making it less likely that any biting happens.
Alternative Ways Of Becoming Present:
You could wrap an elastic band around your wrist which you can snap each time the hand starts to move towards the mouth.
The unconscious habit can also be broken by snapping your fingers before they reach your mouth and moving the hand and fingers away from the mouth.
You can be creative and think of your own unique way of bringing the habit into your conscious awareness.
Big Tip 4: One Day At A Time
As with getting rid of any habit, the best mindset to have is one that enjoys the journey rather than the destination. With this in mind, treat each day as one more day when you no longer bite your nails and one more day when they grow longer and longer. Eventually the days and weeks and months build up and you are left with strong healthy nails that make you look and feel attractive.
Taking this habit ridding process one day at a time means that you don’t put any unwanted pressure on yourself since pressure can often cause us to feel bad about ourselves. The process of ridding yourself of this unwanted habit is about feeling great about yourself! After all you have made the conscious choice to get rid of the nail biting so relax and let it happen naturally.
Big Tip 5: Swishing The Swish
This is a very simple but very effective way of breaking unwanted habits that involves nothing more than the power of your imagination and three minutes each day!
Make sure that you read through the exercise before trying it out:
1. Find a safe quiet place, close your eyes and take a few nice long deep breaths to centre yourself. Imagine a movie screen in your mind and on the screen put up an image of yourself exactly the way that you DON’T want to be. A version of yourself with ugly bitten down nails that hurt. A version of yourself with bleeding fingers. A version of yourself that is miserable because of the terrible state of their nails. Make this version of yourself bright and bold – turn up the colours in the image until they are very bold. Make the image large.
2. Now in the top right hand corner of the movie screen place a small, black and white, faded out image of the way that you DO want to be. That version of yourself with healthy strong nails. That version of yourself with long attractive nails. That version of yourself that is proud of their hands and nails. Keep the image small and black and white. So you now have two images on the movie screen – the large unwanted self and the small version of yourself just the way that you want your nails to be.
3. Now count 3-2-1 and say the word ‘Swish’ in your mind and completely obliterate the unwanted image with the desired version. Make this image big. Allow it to fill the screen now and give it colour. Make any colours bright and bold. Take a deep breath and enjoy the positive feelings and sensations that bringing this image of yourself with perfect nails up in your mind brings.
4. Now clear the screen and clear your mind by imagining your favourite colour for 30 seconds.
5. Repeat steps 1-4 five times.
As you repeat this exercise over and over again you may find that it is harder to bring up the version of yourself that you DON’T want to be and easier to bring up the version of yourself that you DO want to be. This is a good thing because it lets the mind know that healthy strong attractive nails win heads down over ugly torn bleeding nails!
The above tips and techniques as well as more exercises for stopping nail biting can be found in the ‘Stop Biting Nails Enhancement Plan’ that is included within the ‘Stop Nail Biting‘ self hypnosis audio recording MP3 download.