Body Language

What Does Nail Biting Mean?

People usually bite their nails when they feel anxious. Because feelings of anxiety are usually associated with feelings of loss of control, people bite their nails when they feel they want to be more in control.

Many gestures in body language show that a person is anxious (like fidgeting, sweating, tapping your hands on your lap quickly…etc.), but when anxiety is associated with loss of control, the person usually bites his nails.

Why does the person bite his nails?

People usually don’t understand that behind most bad habits is a strong psychological drive. Trying to break the habit itself without examining the underlying cause usually leads to complete failure.

Many bad habits have the goal of bringing the sense of control back to the person who is doing them, like shopping addiction where the person feels control over the money he is spending, or like self-harm where the person feels control over the intensity and the location of the pain.

Nail-biting is one of those habits that makes the person feel more in control over the nails he is biting as the movement itself is highly controlled and predictable.

In addition to this, controlled movements that are predictable helps us reduce the anxiety we feel when we experience a vague situation. This is one of the main reasons some people smoke when they are anxious, as the repetitive movement of inhaling and exhaling helps them feel in control.

How to stop biting your nails?

Will power will never work because it’s your response to anxiety and uncertainty that needs to be dealt with. Learn how not to lose control even when things go out of your hand, learn how to be calm and confident in the face of uncertainty, and you won’t find yourself biting your nails again.

Loss of control and behavior

People who feel that they lost control over their lives always try to regain that control by distracting themselves with another task that they have better control over.

Obsessive handwashing, for example, can be no more than a defensive mechanism a person uses to regain the lost control over his life. By doing the same thing that he is used to repeatedly, he gains a false sense of control.

To get rid of any psychological disorder, you first need to understand your mind’s goal is trying to reach through that behavior. The nail-biting habit follows the same rules.

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