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Monday, October 25, 2010

On Biting My Nails, and Other Bad Habits

I'm 44 years old. Seriously --- it's so past time for me to stop chewing on my fingernails and cuticles. It's got me thinking about how hard it can be to stop any bad but persistent habit. We actually talked about this today in my College Skills class, along with a discussion of how our core beliefs contribute to our thinking patterns, which then contribute to our emotional patterns, which then contribute to our behavior patterns. Now I'm wondering what core beliefs it is that I keep going back to that keep me thinking and feeling in the same old ways, that then keep me doing my old nail-biting behavior. I'm going to try to see if I can trace the causal chain here, going backwards.

When I bite my nails, I'm using feeling anxious and/or irritated and embarrassed by the appearance of my nails (which, ironically, leads me to make them look worse by biting on them) --- so there we have the behavior and the feeling(s). My thoughts at those times usually go something like this: "I've got to stop biting my nails. They look terrible, and my cuticles are sore. Why do I do this? God, I am so anxious, and this is ridiculous. There's nothing to be anxious about (or, alternatively, there is something to be anxious about, and I'm dwelling on that.) Now, the big question is what are the core beliefs that keep me starting the cycle all over again and lead to the thinking and feeling patterns in the first place?

One of them must be, "I am an anxious person; I'm neurotic, that's just the way I am, and I will never be able to stop biting my nails."

There may be others, but this one is apparently relentless. I've got to target it and replace it with a new core belief, which I understand is possible. I've told my students it is, so it better be.

I'm considering some of the advice offered at a website on Changing Core Beliefs. I've provided the link in this post, in case somebody else wants to try it out.

I see that the first step is to "simply stop believing" in the false belief. Really? Can I do that? In order to do this, I have to make a shift in my point of view about the belief and, more importantly, stop judging the belief." This is what I'm going to start with. Join me if you have a bad habit to break and want to get to the heart of it and finally make a change. Let me know what you think.

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