It's one of the few memories I retain of the second half of my Grade 5 year; sitting on the floor as the teacher reads some boring book about habits. The teacher talked about difficulties in changing habits, and mentioned nail-biting as an example. I was biting my nails at that moment.
For the next two decades, I regularly thought back to that moment as I've tried to stop the habit. Bitter nail polish never stopped me, and when I was in the army, lacking finger nails was often a challenge for opening things. Even then, I couldn't change my habit, and it did make hygiene a little easier without nails to collect dirt and debris.
Biting my nails is such a habit, I don't even notice when I'm doing it.
Only once have I been able to briefly stopped, in 2009 for about six weeks. That was not because of self-control, it was that I was so mentally broken down by a series of personal crises, my mind wasn't functioning as normal. Once I was back to near normality, I was biting my nails again.
This past September, I started a series of personal changes after being adrift for about a year. It each phase is about six weeks long; and they have been mostly successful.
Phase III started right after Christmas. Consciously stopping myself from biting my nails is a key measure of this phase. I'm happy to say that for the past two months, I'm stopped biting my nails.
There is one exception, I continue to struggle to stop myself from biting my little fingernails, and I bite the ring fingernails a few times, but not completely.
I find typing with fingernails to be interesting, the sound of the nails on the keyboard especially so.
Now I'm just ensuring I do relapse into the old habit; I'm very happy to note that in January, when I nearly overwhelmed myself with anxiety, I managed to not bite my nails. (Anxiety is my Achilles' Heel, I can handle unbelievable stress well, but anxiety sees me figurately scrambled and stumbling.)
I cannot emphasis enough the satisfaction of knowing I managed to control my nailbiting habit while dealing with anxiety in mid-January.
I'm now in the Lenten period, and I've started training myself for another major personal change. I'm not revealing it in this post, as I expect it will take many months to achieve, and I may not achieve it - the characteristic being so ingrained into my being. Nonetheless, Friday night, I managed to stop myself from this habit I'm changing, and found myself able to control the anxiety I felt while making this change.
Here's the funny thing; despite not fully achieving control of the habit, I accepted partial control as an achievement. I hadn't thought of addressing my habit of letting perfection get into the way of completion, but I may be on the road to addressing that as well.
On that note, I stopped writing Saturday night, waited until this morning to do my proof-reading, with an eye to catching errors, without expanding this post even further without the worry that somehow I haven't expresed thoughts perfectly - it's that chase for the "perfect" personal blog post that's been holding me back from writing the past few months.