Skin picking, hair pulling and nail biting are all related behaviours. Skin picking, hair pulling and nail biting are labelled as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders. People who bite their nails often keep their hands hidden in their pockets. People who bite their nails often feel social embarrassment and shame and experience out-of-control feelings at times. They often wonder why they cannot stop biting their nails and they also question whether or not they are sane.
Nail biting usually happens when people are in one of two modes. Some biters do it in an automatic way, as if they are in some kind of a trance and not really thinking about what they are doing. It’s often when they are engrossed in some other activity at the same time such as talking on the phone or watching TV, etc. For others, the deliberate picking or biting is their main activity at the time, and they will usually interrupt other activities to engage in it.
‘How To Stop Nail Biting’
There is also a strong commonality in the purposes behind these three problems (skin picking, hair pulling and nail biting). At a very basic level, these symptoms satisfy an urge. Many report an almost uncontrollable urge to do them. Biting, picking or pulling also seems to deliver a pleasurable or relaxed sensation.
When sufferers feel stressed, doing these things has a kind of soothing effect on them and reduces levels of stimulation. On the other hand, when they are bored or inactive, they seem to provide a needed level of stimulation to the nervous system. This probably accounts for why so many people who have these habits find it so hard to break these habits. It simply “feels good” at the time no matter what.
Even if you suffer from more than one of these habits, do not despair. These symptoms can be overcome if you have a sufficient amount of motivation. More important is learning to “de-stigmatize” yourself. You are not crazy, helpless, and morally weak or totally out of control, even though you may feel like you are at times. Once you become aware of the fact that you are just a person who simply happens to have a problem, you can make some serious progress.
Skin picking and nail biting are chronic problems, so there is not currently a “cure” but you can find relief if you are willing to work at it. Hypnotherapy for nail biting consists of three parts.
Hypnosis For People Who Bite Their Nails
First of all, nail biting is a nervous habit. So the first part of the hypnotic therapy is to teach the biter how to be more relaxed at all times. To that end, I have found that traditional hypnosis, Ericksonian hypnosis, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques are very often quite effective. That’s because the very essence of hypnosis is relaxation. The individual can learn to apply several different methods to increase both the relaxed state, as well as his/her overall feeling of well being.
The second part of the therapy teaches the biter awareness of this unconscious habit. Post-hypnotic suggestions are given to the subconscious mind to make the consciousness aware that you are bringing your hand towards your mouth for the purpose of biting your nails. Then you get to consciously decide whether or not you are actually going to bite them.
There is several other much more effective hypnosis and NLP methods. For example, we can help the client to set up an “Anchor” or trigger so that he/she can momentarily mentally step outside of him/herself. This is an excellent technique that will effectively relieve the urge to bite.
The third part of the hypnotherapy for nail biting is to eliminate the compulsion to bite. There are hypnotic and NLP methods that actually program the client with a compulsion to not bite his/her nails.
With the nail biting behaviour, being realistic is very important. First off, you have rehearsed the unwanted habit thousands of times. You must accept that the urge to bite your nails will not be overcome in a few days.
Second, you are fighting the fact that it feels good to do, and it offers a lot of short-term satisfaction and either stimulation or soothing feelings. It takes time and effort to master, but I believe it is well worth the effort. Experience has shown a number of methods to be very effective!