Breaking Bad….habits

Everyone has a weird habit, a tic of sorts that seems ever present or unconscious. Mine is a modified version of nail biting: more like hangnail biting. I do it when I’m nervous, bored, anxious or absent minded, and I’ve tried many times to restrain myself from this irrational compulsion, usually with mixed results.

Last night I watched the docudrama Touching the Void, a made for TV movie based on a true story about a pair of climbers who nearly die descending a mountain in Peru. I thought the movie would be rather uninteresting because I’m usually not a fan of documentaries, but there was something powerful about the way the climber himself was narrating his own story to a reenactment, about how he broke his leg on the side of a mountain 20,000 feet off the ground, then was cut away by his partner to fall to his death. Only, he didn’t die but fell into a crevasse, which he somehow found a way out of and then dragged himself on his hands and knees all the way down the mountain without food or water.

Here I am, pitifully trying to quit biting my fingers off, and his are coming off from frostbite…and that’s the least of his problems. Throughout the movie I could have been struck by his resourcefulness, his pain tolerance, or his bravery, but instead I was left with a message about the immensity of human resolve. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how tough it is, you just resolve to do it.

After that movie I resolved, I am never going to bite my fingers again. This is a cold turkey type of thing, I’m treating my fingers like I will get the plague if I raise them to my lips again.

I guess my problem was I never wanted to stop doing it badly enough, I didn’t have a life and death situation to spur me into action. Then I realized that should never be what it takes to make someone act. If a person decides to do something, they should follow through, and I always lacked that perseverance. Lately I’ve been becoming more committed to things, and I’ve been following through more. I resolved to work out every week at the new year (like I always do…) and this time, I’ve been going steady for many months, more then I have ever done continuously before. I’m hoping this is the start of a trend, and bodes well for my new habit-breaking promise.



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