Compulsive Behavior: Brian

Brian B. (Nail Chewing)
IT Manager
Austin, TX

I've had problems with nail chewing all of my life. I would be sitting around a table with five other people and believing that someone isn't going to notice that I'm sticking my finger in my mouth, it was ludicrous. My hands look pretty bad especially when I had to deal with bleeding cuticles in public. If I had a cuticle problem and I was bleeding I would literally have to hold my finger to keep from bleeding all over the place. It was embarrassing and I felt out of control, I couldn't find a way to consciously stop my behavior. It felt like the sensation of driving on ice and realizing that there is nothing I could do once I hit the brakes and started sliding. It was frustrating, I knew I shouldn't do it and yet I continued to do it and didn't know how to stop it.

I've tried many things over the years to stop. In childhood, my parents tried the bitter tasting nail paint to make me stop, but it just increased my determination and I would chew it off or scrape it and continue to chew my nails. I tried to consciously stop myself from doing it; I never seemed to get traction. I had some success with limiting chewing to specific nails, but I would eventually go back to chewing all of them again.

At a professional development seminar during a feedback session, one of the guys who had been in my industry for 25 years pointed out that my nail chewing would be a challenge for me because of the way that people perceived me in the workplace. I realized that it wasn't just a nasty little habit, but that it was holding me back professionally. When my daughter was born, I realized that I didn't want to set a bad example for her, so that was the tipping point for me and I knew that I had to quit.

I heard about A New Day Hypnosis from one of Laura's previous clients. She was a smoker and she had tried a variety of things and nothing had worked, but Laura was able to help her. It's all about results, so I decided to call. I stopped chewing right away and immediately noticed a change in my outlook. I started to really think about what was driving me to do the behavior and began to understand the motivations for my chewing.

I've noticed that I'm more comfortable in stressful environments and I have better coping mechanisms for dealing with pressure. My hands have healed and look presentable now. It's a relief to know that I have a set of fingernails that look like everyone else's and I feel more confident in public settings and when I'm interacting with others. I don't have to hide my hands and I can have them on the conference table, which makes things more comfortable for me.

It's been easier than I expected it to be. I think that once I got past the behavior of criticizing myself when I slipped, it made more sense to divert my attention or do a substitute behavior. Once I got past the hurdle, it was a lot easier. My wife has been very supportive and has noticed the changes. She is proud that I have been able to get past something that I've been doing all my life. She has also noticed that I am managing my stress a lot better.

The most important benefit has been the improvement in self image and the empowerment to make a change. The tools that I have learned have been very valuable, but the real insight to me has been associating the behavior to self-image. I would recommend A New Day Hypnosis to anyone who wants to stop biting their nails. I've enjoyed the sessions and I think people need a good insight into their behavior; it behooves us to really understand what motivates our behavior and take action to change it.

This really comes down to coping with stress and understanding how to manage anxiety. Being able to address the problem at a deeper level makes a big difference for me and, because of what I have learned and experienced, I am confident that I am free of my problem permanently.