Everyone has bad habits. Some habits are just more noticeable than others, like biting your nails. A quick glance at your short, ragged nails and cuticles is an instant giveaway that you can't kick this bad habit. And you may be surprised to learn that this one habit says a lot more about you than you think.
Second of all, if your nails do look a bit like this, then you are a chronic nail biter. Yes, it's a bad habit and the ladies at the nail salon will definitely trash-talk your trashed cuticles behind your back, but surprisingly, this common bad habit doesn't actually mean you don't care about your appearance.
If you are a nail biter, take comfort in the fact that you're definitely not alone.
About 20-30 percent of the population bites, chews and picks at their nails. And to some extent, everyone fusses with their nails. But it's the chronic nail biters that display a common personality trait...
That's right. If you bite your nails, you may be a perfectionist. According to a study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, researchers found that nail biters chomped on their nails more when they were bored or unsatisfied with their work.
We know, it sounds a bit backwards. The people with the imperfect nails just may be the ones who crave perfection the most.
Boredom, Stress And Frustration Provoke Nail Biting
The researchers surveyed 48 people, half of them chronic nail biters, and exposed the participants to different situations designed to elicit four emotions: boredom, stress, relaxation, and frustration.
The nail biters chomped away during every situation except for the relaxation simulation.
"We believe that individuals with these repetitive behaviors may be perfectionistic, meaning that they are unable to relax and to perform a task at a 'normal' pace," explained the study's lead author, Kieron O'Connor. "They are therefore prone to frustration, impatience, and dissatisfaction when they do not reach their goals."
And when they are unable to relax, they bite their nails.
So if you're a self-diagnosed perfectionist, you may bite your nails just to feel productive in moments of boredom or frustration. However, after the initial moment of productivity, research shows that you'll likely feel ashamed or embarrassed. So overall, definitely not worth it.
Nail Biting Isn't The Only Habit Associated With Perfectionism
You can try to squash the habit by attacking the real cause of your nail biting: perfectionism. And exactly how does one do that? Dealing with perfectionism is hard, but you can do it by consciously adjusting the way you think about others, yourself and the world. You're human, after all. You just need to accept it.
There's a reason why nail biting is deemed a "bad habit." It actually has some pretty nasty side effects.
Like illness, for one. Think about it, you're putting your dirty hands in your mouth. Of course you're going to expose your body to all kinds of bacteria and pathogens. So if you want to stay healthy this cold and flu season, keep your nails out of your mouth.
Biting your nails can lead to icky, painful infections. All it takes is for you to bite a little too deep into your skin, and then the bacteria from your mouth buries deep down into your skin. Boom, infection.
How much did your parents spend on your braces, again?
You definitely don't want to undo all of that good orthodontic work because you can't kick this bad habit. Chronic nail biting can actually deform the sockets that hold your teeth, resulting in a crooked smile.
Listen, I don't want to show you these gross pictures any more than you want to see them, but that's what we're doing here.
We all know just how painful an ingrown nail can be, and chronic nail biters experience them far more frequently. So if you want to avoid unsightly situations like these, you might want to stop biting your nails.
Yes, kicking a habit like nail biting is tough, but think of all the benefits! Not only is it much better for your health to keep your fingers away from your mouth, but it also ensures that your nails will look strong, long and healthy. That's something any perfectionist can get behind.