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OVERCOMING ADDICTIONS: AIN'T IT A NAIL BITER...


Something you may not know about me: I chew my nails. Not to the extent that you would really notice if you saw it anymore, but enough that my hands are usually around my mouth and especially at stressful times, or so I thought. When I was young I would do it so bad I could almost chew my whole nail off... savage I know, but I am giving you a picture of just how extreme the psychological link is for me.

This has been going on for as long as I can remember.

I distinctly recall me thinking two things when I was young:

1) When am I ever going to stop; and

2) This is what addiction feels like...

Just over a month ago I had a client approach me about quitting tobacco and something in that little intuitive corner of my body said "you should try to stop chewing your nails completely" and so I encouragingly said to him "hey, I think I will stop chewing my nails while you do this". I am pretty sure he laughed and said "yeah thats great".. not thinking much of it and along with our journeys we went.

In the beginning I noticed the usual thing happen. When I consciously switch saying "I no longer chew my nails" or get fake nails, my body and mind say great, and shift to biting my lip... Don't worry, I caught myself and in the first two days I stopped completely.

Fast forward to me on vacation I felt like a super star. I didn't even think twice about the fact that I ... no longer chew my nails or have anything to do with them and thoughts came in my mind like "this is easy, why didn't I do this a long time ago"... and I truly believed myself.

So why am I writing this??? What is the point..

The point is I now have long nails.. ish* and what I am noticing is that while my stress levels in life are low, my newly found long nails are giving me anxiety. Seriously though... I am absolutely crawling in my skin and I have had nights where I am just so frustrated with it I literally wanted it to all go away. It go away??? My nails?? Yes, I want short nails again.. and I don't care how...

Ok, that is a lie.. Transparency Karinna.. I do care, and I am committed... So I will continue.. and break it down a little bit on what is actually going on in my brain.

I am acting impulsively when I bite my nails. Impulsivity is "a multifactorial construct that involves a tendency to act on a whim, displaying behaviour characterized by little or no forethought, reflection, or consideration of the consequences". The do first (or not do in some cases), think later act is what we are doing when we procrastinate, choose to not work out and do something else, eat food without being hungry or some other not so wise choice that negatively impacts our life.

We essentially let our unconscious self direct the pathway in our lives. In order to break the reoccurrences of this happening we have to do one of two things:

1) Pause and become conscious to our actions and;

2) Be disciplined enough to maintain resistance after initial consciousness

Easy peasy right?? Wrong.. the thing about impulse control is that is a learned behaviour, and in today's society where we don't have to wait for much, we are not learning things in that category very fast. How often are you guilty of being impatient, self-serving and on the fast path to instant gratification?? Umm hello... this girl?!

For example, my brain keeps wondering, since it was such a fleeting moment, if this client even remembers me saying that I was quitting at all and if I can go back to my marry ol way!! Happy as a clam.

That is why I am writing this, for accountability, for support and to talk about something that happens to all of us as a result of our inability to deal with our impulsive actions/turned rogue addictions; keeping us on our self destructive path...the withdrawal aspect. No one likes feeling or dealing with withdrawal. Bottom line. No one becomes addicted to anything because they are just so excited to go through physical and mental withdrawals.

At the end of the day it truly doesn't matter why I started anymore, and it truly doesn't matter why I still do it, how long I did it for, etc. What does matter is HOW I am going to overcome it.

Over time, habits like chewing your nails, binge eating and smoking those cigarettes essentially become a short cut to your brains reward system. My brain simply says "short nails = a good thing", therefore I have to disconnect my current neurological wiring and rewire my programming through conscious awareness, refocusing and straight up will power to get onto a different path.

To do this, it is especially important that during the times of heightened anxiety I begin cultivating diverse interest in areas that passionately ignite my life (this blog for example...), instead of suppressing or giving into compulsive/impulsive desires. I need to surrender to the pull and transform my energy into a more enhanced state of being.

We all have our vices but at some point we have to say enough is enough and tonight is that point for me. I am putting my foot down to my impulses and saying "you will not longer get what you want from me and I can no longer serve you". Sayonara baby!

It is in the realization and understanding that all of my problems are transient that allows me to understand the internal shift that my body is experiencing. Most importantly, I acknowledge that life isn't always supposed to be pleasurable and if I really believe that we are here to experience this life and all the moments that are in it, why would deny myself the experience of overcoming a personal addiction?!

My mind: because its easier Karinna....

My heart: Touche, but we are going to do it anyway... :) One more day down!!

Here's to things getting easier along the way. XO


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