Hi. My name is Brooke, and I’m a nail-biting addict.
I recently broke one of the biggest habits of my life — which was biting my nails. (Embarassing, I know), given I’m 26 years old, and still biting my nails like a small child.
To be honest, I had never broken this habit before, because it didn’t really bother me. Unlike drinking, smoking, or other clearly detrimental habits, nail biting doesn’t seem to have any hard hitting consequences, so I never really cared to quit.
One day, however, I realized that it wasn’t so much about the habit — it was more so about having the power over my mind to be able to break the habit. At the end of the day, no matter what our ‘habits’ are — all of these habits have somewhat of a control over us. It’s basically like being run on ‘auto-pilot’, and our habits are sitting in the pilots seat in control of the vessel.
At the end of the day, it was a decision that I didn’t want to be a slave to my subconscious mind any longer.
It’s the year 2020, and by now we all know the insane power of our minds, most of it still being a mystery. Neuroscience has shown us how to get paralyzed people to walk, the ancient yogis claimed to use the power of their minds to levitate their bodies, and most of us now know about ‘the law of attraction‘ which tells us that we can manifest anything we desire, simply by thinking about it.
So then, I started to ask myself:
What could happen if I could break out of auto-pilot? Where would I be able to navigate this vessel, if the vessel wasn’t navigating me? What would happen in my life, if I could bring more radical presence, and pure consciousness into my life, rather than being a slave to my subconscious mind?
Once I truly woke up to this realization — is the moment I decided I would stop biting my nails.
Which brings me to a very important point:
In order to break a habit, there first has to be intrinsic motivation.
You can’t do it because someone else wants you to do it — you can’t do it because society wants you to do it. It has to come from within.
There needs to be an ‘aha‘ moment, where you realize that the habit is not serving you. Only then, will you find the will power to overcome it.
For me, this was realizing I was a slave to my subconscious mind and tendencies. The moment I truly realized this — was the moment I decided that I wanted to be in the pilots seat.
Some thoughts on quitting:
Sure, it wasn’t ‘easy’ to quit. You’re basically going in and reprogramming your subconscious mind. I’m not a computer programmer, but I’m pretty sure reprogramming any system is not totally “easy”, let alone the deepest neuro-pathways in our brains.
However, quitting provided me an opportunity to attune myself to deep presence, and strengthen the muscles of being totally aware of my subconscious mind.
Think about it like going to the gym. Every time I would find my hand in my mouth, there would be an ‘aha’ moment where I would suddenly become aware that I was about to bite my nails. I would then choose to take my hand away, thereafter strengthening the habit-breaking muscles in my mind.
This started to happen again, and again, and again throughout the day.
Hand would move to the mouth unconsciously, then there would be an ‘aha’ moment of conscious awareness of what was happening, and then I would choose to not bite my nails.
Slowly slowly, just like strengthening your muscles at the gym, I started to build this habit-breaking muscle in my mind.
Four practices to help me quit:
There were three main practices that helped me in my process. The first, and most important one, was kriya.
1. My Morning Ritual
Ask any successful person if they have a morning ritual, and the answer is probably ‘yes’. There is something to starting the day with presence, affirmation, prayer, meditation — or whatever it is that helps you get clear and tuned into who you are and what you want. I started a morning practice a couple years ago, and somehow everything in my life started to shift. The key is not so much what you are doing. The key is consistency. When we are able to wake up and do something beneficial everyday, consistently, we start to re-program ourselves for success, rather than being a bi-product of subconscious conditioning.
My morning ritual consists of gratitude, kriya, silence, and meditation. Which brings me to my next points:
Kriya, which directly translates from Sanskrit to “evolutionary action” are ancient yogic techniques that can help you reprogram the subconscious mind.
From the outside, these techniques appear to be super weird, as it can combine different mantras, with movements and mudras, which make you look like a crazy person. However, they’re probably the most powerful tool I’ve ever encountered.
I was initiated into kriya techniques when I was studying yoga in India years ago, and is something that I’m passionate about doing every single day. I practice kriyas every single morning, and I find that since starting these practices two years ago, somehow everything in my life has started to shift for the better.
Another practice that I will not go a day without. I’ve been meditating daily now for over two years (the same amount of time I’ve been practicing kriya), and the shifts in my life have been lifesaving. Not only has it helped me completely get rid of anxiety, but it’s helped me become more present in daily life, more compassionate, and very important — it’s helped me be hyper aware of what’s going on in my mind. This is how I was able to finally figure out that hey — biting my nails is totally a subconscious habit, and is something that I can let go of.
You can try to break a habit all you want — but there has to be a why behind it. This is where affirmation has really helped me. Every time I would pull my hand away from my mouth, I would remind myself why I was doing so.
My affirmation was: I don’t bite my nails. I am really powerful.
I would repeat this to myself every time I would catch myself going to bite my nails. Notice how the affirmation wasn’t I don’t want to bite my nails. No. It was speaking in powerful, present, language.
At the end of the day,
it’s okay to have habits. In fact, there is absolutely no getting out of having habits, because as soon as we reprogram one habit, we are reprogramming a different one. It’s just the way the brain works.
The key is to start asking yourself this — Are these habits serving me? And what could happen if I could choose my habits and patterns, rather than having them choose me?