Old Habits Are Hard To Break

Horace Mann wrote:
“Habits are like a cable. We weave a strand of it everyday and soon it cannot be broken.”

When I was a little girl I had this habit of biting my nails. I don’t have a clue as to why or when or how it started. All I know is that I did it continuously, no matter where I was. I also remember being berated in public by my elders. Our village was small and everyone knew everyone else. We were all related somehow to each other. So at school, my teachers scolded me in front of everyone for biting my nails. And whenever I was out with my friends or on a scout trip there was always someone to yell at me to stop. I guessed that my mom was involved somehow, and I later learned that she had asked them to do so.

I used to get angry and mad, but I would keep on biting my nails no matter how many people tried to make me stop and quit the habit. My dad even got me nail polish so I would feel disgusted by its taste and stop. But to no avail.

Years went by and I finished with my studies, got married and started to teach. It was then in the classroom after watching a student bite her fingernails that I decided it was not a nice thing to do or watch. So I stopped, but it wasn’t easy.

A few years after that, my daughter who was not even three years old started biting her nails. I tried to talk her out of it, but I failed. I tried all those treatments I found in the pharmacy but they didn’t work either. Finally I went and spoke with her class teacher. I then noticed that she stopped biting her nails, only for a short while though. Two nights ago, she was sitting with me and we were watching a film together. She had hardly put her right index finger in her mouth when I yelled at her to stop. She gave me this look and I saw myself in that same place many years ago. Oh my goodness! I thought. I was becoming like my mother.

Now I see her do it, but I refrain myself from saying or doing anything. I even try not to look in her direction. Because I know it is hard to break a habit, but it can be done when the person is ready. She is just not ready.


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8 Responses to Old Habits Are Hard To Break

  1. Wow! Shades of me and my daughter! I can totally relate. Maturity can often break a bad habit, or change it. My problem is I went from nail-biting to cuticle picking. I’m not sure which is the worse habit!

  2. Samir says:

    I suppose what goes around, comes around! It’s funny though, my girlfriend told me endlessly about trying to help a good friend of hers to break the same habit. I think after several sessions she succeeded but its been a while now, maybe her friend resumed…

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