What nail biting says about your personality
Are you a hair-twister, nail biter or eyelash puller who has tried to quit the habit with no luck? According to a new study, your perfectionist tendencies may be the root cause.
Researchers asked surveyed people questions regarding the extent they experienced emotions like boredom, anger, guilt, irritability and anxiety. They were then put into situations that would provoke relaxation, stress, frustration and boredom. Study leaders found that those who were easily bored, frustrated or impatient were more likely to perform body-focused repetitive behavior such as nail biting and skin picking.
“Although these behaviors can induce important distress, they also seem to satisfy an urge and deliver some form of reward,” said principal investigator Kieron O’Connor, of the University of Montreal, in a press release. “We believe that individuals with these repetitive behaviors maybe perfectionistic, meaning that they are unable to relax and perform task at a ‘normal’ pace. They are prone to frustration, impatience and dissatisfaction when they do not reach their goals. They also experience greater levels of boredom.”
Often, individuals who tend toward perfectionism have a certain internal mental model for how well they should perform or how positively others should see them.
“In my own practice, we tend to focus on identifying the underlying emotions that drive perfectionism, especially fears of failure, or how much one’s sense of self-esteem or identity is linked to one’s perceived success or failure,” says Dr. Merai.
The areas Dr. Merai focuses on with his patients include:
- Be mindfully present with their fears instead of using perfectionism or avoidance to temporarily numb or placate fears.
- Discuss how to build on their intrinsic worth rather than on achievements which can rise and fall throughout life.
- Use cognitive behavioral therapy to break the habit of engaging in compulsive behavior.
- Use habit reversal therapy, including replacing the habit of pulling or biting with adaptive behaviors that keep one’s hands occupied, as well as, exercise and meditation.
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