We all have bad habits. The ticks and quirks that we do subconsciously can really become issues if left to their own devices. For me, a big baddie that I struggled with for years was touching and playing with my beard.
Once thing let to another, and I would often find myself picking at the hairs, often when I was really focusing on something else and my hands were idle. I never reached a place where I dug a hole in my beard, but it was a bad habit nonetheless. Picking like this can also cause your beard to look messier than it is, and can also lead to things like acne and ingrown hairs if you aren't careful.
Breaking these habits is genuinely an exercise in self awareness and restraint. Realizing when I was picking was the biggest aspect, and it took lots of time and purposeful reminders when I felt my hands drifting towards my chin.
Strategies to curb the quirk
These are some things that I worked with for almost a year - some worked and some didn't, but they're each definitely worth a shot, as my brain is obviously not the same as yours.
1. Work on self awareness.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but I found that most of the issues came when I was thinking about something else. Things like spreadsheets and proofreading, where my hands were empty but my brain was full, meant that I often found myself picking away without noticing.
There are a million different general strategies to build better self awareness, but for me, connecting the feeling of picking with a thought like "I need to comb out my beard" meant that my concentration was broken, and it reinforced a better habit at the same time
2. Keep the tangles out.
When I miss brushing out my beard in the morning, I often find that I am more likely to have my hands in it my midday. The tangles mean that I can feel my beard more, and it starts to bug me. When I try to straighten it out with my hands, I often find small knots or tangles, and the lizard part of my brain whispers "pull it out bro".
Part of breaking the habit was prep, and making sure to get in the habit of brushing my beard out every morning made sure that I was giving myself the best chance I could.
3. Keep it even.
Keeping the general shape of my beard neat and even was also a big help - I do still have the habit of stroking my beard when I really get thinking. (think of me as Plato, I guess)
But if there are small uneven clumps that I can feel when I do, it would often have the same effect as the tangles I mentioned above. Making sure that I kept up on maintenance meant that there was less of a chance that I would feel the primal urge to do bad things to my face.
It’s important to remember that any habit isn’t going to change overnight. Baby steps, though, are the key. If you’re improving week by week, you’ll stop that bad habit of yours before you know it.
- Thanks for reading!
Tyler at Peregrine