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The Refined Man: How to Stop
Biting Your Nails

Posted by Mark Baese on


When you think of nail biting, you might picture a cartoon caricature nervously chomping away during a tense situation. It can be comical. However, the reality of biting your nails is a lot less funny – and more destructive.

If you’re a nail biter, you may do it, without even realizing your actions. You could be subconsciously biting during a meeting, a presentation, or even on a date. You may think you’re being discreet about it, but believe me, people notice.

Perception is Reality

Biting your nails is often viewed as bad personal hygiene. Nails are dirty. They carry many bacteria. Even though you may feel it doesn’t cause actual harm, the perception people have is much different. Imagine announcing to your boss, clients, and colleagues you don’t brush your teeth regularly. That’s what nail biting is – a visual announcement about your hygiene.

The good news: You can rid yourself of this habit. The fact you’re reading this means you’re an individual who cares about your personal development. You want to present the best version of yourself to gain the biggest advantage you can.

Sure, nail biting isn’t a massive personal flaw, but small habits add up to who you are as an individual. Taking small steps to change will help build the momentum that leads to a massive transformation. You get where you want to be by taking small steps along the way. This is one of those steps.

It’s Time to Change Your Identity

There’s a reason you want to stop biting your nails: It’s not reflective of who you really are or who you really want to be. To change a bad habit, you’re looking to change your identity. You don’t want to be the nail-biting accountant. You want to be the confident, well-groomed executive. It’s all about changing the habits that define you. These are called identity-based habits, and James Clear believes such habits must be addressed at the core of your belief system.

The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously).

To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself.

Clear explains the best way to change identity is by chaining together small wins, until you have become the person you want to be. Once you set a goal for your identity, for example, becoming the person people at work respect and look up to, you can make a list of all the things that make up that identity.

Picture what this ideal identity looks like. Is it a leaner physique? Better groomed? Great at remembering names? Well-read? Your goals could be to lose 10 pounds, meditate daily, read an extra book a week, or stop biting your nails. After checking off enough of the small steps, before you know it, you’ll find you’ve become the person you originally dreamt up.

How to Break Individual Habits

Once you know what you want to change, you need to know how to change it. There’s no better roadmap than Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg. He breaks habits into three main components: cue, routine, and reward. By deconstructing the habit this way, you can reverse engineer the process to work for you.

The Cue: This is the feeling you get just before launching into the bad habit. It’s what starts the ball rolling. For nail biters, it could be stress, anxiety, or boredom. A key to changing habits is recognizing the cue.

The Routine: Once the cue hits, your habitual routine kicks in. Here, the stress or anxiety ramps up and manifests itself as nail biting.

The Reward: Biting your nails calms the nerves and pacifies the stress. This reward solidifies the habit in your mind: biting nails = lower stress.

To change any habit, Duhigg recommends maintaining the same cue and reward and merely changing the routine.

As it relates to nail biting, this can be achieved by carrying around an index card. Any time you notice the cue, try a new behavior. If you feel stress building, do something else with your hands to keep them occupied. Try gripping your keys in your pocket or squeezing a pen in your meeting. Once the stress goes away, make a checkmark on the index card. This will give your mind the satisfaction of completing a task; stress is lowered, and the reward is met!

Never Bite Your Nails Again

There’s one more critical thing you can do to stop biting your nails: groom them. If you put a little effort into your nails, you’ll think twice about biting them. Grooming your nails does not differ from having a solid haircut or a great fitting suit. It’ll give you the confidence to focus on the things that matter.

Although you can use any grooming kit you like, At Tailor & Spruce, we think you’ll enjoy ours the most. That’s because our Finesse Manicure Set was designed with you, the confident and stylish man, in mind. Our kit is crafted from vintage calfskin leather, with hand-stitched felt lining. You’ll find the finest stainless steel tools inside.

Why build such a high-quality grooming kit? Authority is in the details. With a little hard work and a sharp grooming kit, your nails will say all the right things about who you are!

Grooming Life Hacks Personal Development Psychology

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