A Life-long Habit and How Failing is Helping Me Break It.



I am 36 years old.

And those nubby excuses for fingers you see in this post?

Yep, thems be mine.

Pretty darn embarrassing.

This habit of finger-in-mouth, beaver-like gnawing to then peeling both nail and cuticle until the tangy taste of metal touches my taste buds has been ongoing for more than 3 decades.

I have tried everything.

Manicures, tips, toxic eat-me-and-you-might-die synthetics, mustard (the most gagalicious smell to have under your fingernails EVER) and even gloves. Yes, I said gloves.

You name it, I have tried it.

And for years I have attributed this masochistic pastime to an oral fixation for focus.

Hand in mouth equaled mental motors moving.

A way to curb my mind from wandering.

But I was wrong.

About a year ago my curiosity was piqued by the world of coaching. I began toying with the idea of career change. “After all, I had been the sound board for dozens of newbie-business-worlders over the course of the last decade. “Why not take it to a profitable level,” I thought.

Now, because I have learned that rash decisions equal trash decisions, I decided to schedule a month of coaching for myself. Not because I had any dilemmas to hash out, or so I thought, but rather to experience the process and profession up close and personally.

As I walked to my first appointment I dialogued with myself, “What areas of my life needed coaching?” “What pain points was I grappling with?”

I rang the doorbell.

The speaker sounded almost immediately.

“Subí no más” she said, buzzing me in.

“Fuck! I thought, “I should have thought this out better, there has to be something I need to work on!”

Too late.

We leaned in, allowing our cheeks to kiss their hellos and I took a seat on her impeccably white couch.

Sitting on a chair in front of me she said, “Tell me a bit about why you have come here today. What would you like to work on?”

And just like that I tongued the words, “I want to quit biting my fingernails.”

I think she may have hesitated, but not long enough for anyone but my insecurity to notice. From there, it was an hour of varied questions and answers.

Her sniper-like listening skills readied themselves, focusing not only on my words, but on every aspect of my being.

And each time she asked me a difficult question, you know, the kind that leave you flopping around like a freshly caught fish struggling for air to answer, that hand of mine, it went straight to my mouth.

“Do you feel like you always need to have the answer,” she asked?

There was a long silence.

I did.

I do.

Isn’t that what smart people do? They know things? They know how to respond?

And when I didn’t, I ate away at myself.


I saw the light.

I was a closet perfectionist with a carnivorous habit for needing to know, and I didn’t even know it!

The absurdity of it was laughable.

Imagine! Me! The evangelist of “learning happens in the grey space of not knowing.”

The poster child for Is-based language.

Because, let’s face it, everything could be. RIGHT?

There I was, being force-fed a fat spoon full of my own goddamned medicine.

And do you know what?

I had never been more grateful for the remedy.

Of course, knowing the cause of a habit, doesn’t in end, keep it from happening, but awareness is half the battle.

The second part of the battle is replacing the habit.

That is where I am now.

And as I sit here typing this now, my nails are chomped down clear to the quick.

But I am getting better.

Every day.

And every time I catch my hand a creepin, I giggle to replace the habit. I giggle to keep from taking myself seriously. I giggle to remind myself that perfect is boring.

I giggle to celebrate the achievements of my failures, because learning doesn’t come from perfection, it comes from making mistakes, acknowledging them, and using them to leverage growth.

So, let’s high-five to our failures.

What bad habits are striving to conquer and change? What are you currently wrestling with and striving to overcome?

Tell me about it in the comments! Because let’s face it, perfection doesn’t exist and it is just easier to walk this path together!

P.S. I am gushing with gratitude for all of you who made it all the way through that post!