The interesting thing about spiritual meanings of all too familiar dream imagery is that they push us to look beyond the familiar. This applies to the spiritual meaning of nail biting.
It’s very easy to just look at things like nail biting or even going to the mall or entering a library as things that are in of themselves innocuous, harmless, and ultimately meaningless.
We’ve trained, as we get older, to focus our attention on what we will see in those places, or to keep an eye out for something more traumatic or out of the ordinary.
It’s one thing to think about the spiritual meaning of nail biting, but most people would focus on whether a bear attacks you as you’re biting your nails or if leeches fall out of the sky and start to suck your blood as you go through a particularly nasty nail biting session.
This is the big challenge with finding the spiritual meaning of a dream imagery that is easy to overlook.
Why Do People Bite Their Nails?
Nail biting is also known as onychophagia. Some of us can’t help but engage in this behavior when we’re feeling nervous or when we’re bored.
It is a habit that starts from childhood and can go on until adulthood. In fact, a lot of people never outgrow it.
It’s a Sign That Their Worried
You can tell that they’re worried when they start to bite their nails. They can tell you that they’re okay all they want, but you only need to take one look at what they’re doing to know that they’re not okay.
Typically considered OCD behavior, chronic nail biting can lead to physical harm.
In fact, a lot of people who automatically bite their nails can wear down their cuticles. Some even have bleeding fingernails.
What Causes Nail Biting?
Nail biting is a learned behavior where a person detects a trigger and equates nail biting with some sort of reward. This is how most repetitive behaviors are discovered and rewarded.
Repeat this process enough and people suffering from repetitive, habitual behaviors will become set in their ways.
Most people, especially children, are not born with nail biting habits. But eventually, they pick it up. For lack of any other routine that breaks them out of that behavioral loop, they stick with it.
A lot of researchers say that this is part of the way a person soothes themselves.
Maybe they’re feeling tension or they’re trying to deal with stress. So, they bite their nails.
Some researchers say that this type of behavior is closely linked to an impaired mother-and-child relationship.
Other Associations with Nail Biting
Nail biting can also be linked to perfectionism. A nail biter exhibits repetitive behaviors.
He can be obsessed with the appearance of his or her nails. No matter how much time, effort, and money they put into their nails, they never seem to look good enough.
They constantly look at their nails and can’t resist the urge to bite the long nails to trim them with their teeth.
Of course, since they’re not using the right equipment, they never quite achieve the “right look.” So, they repeat this process until it becomes a bad habit.
A nail biter cannot stop nail biting. In fact, a person who has this problem can’t tell the difference between normal nails and nails chewed to the base.
Excessive nail biting can cause hangnails, pain, bleeding, or soft tissue damages, bumps, callouses, and damaged skin around the nails.
The Spiritual Meaning of Biting the Nails
A person who often bites their nails has a fear of showing aggression. This might seem like a rational fear, but people who bite their nails in their dreams have a very interesting definition of “aggressive behavior.”
It Indicates Suppressed Aggression
A lot of the time, they think that simply questioning another person or engaging in some sort of otherwise acceptable confrontation is aggression.
They have all this pent-up energy inside them. They also are animated by strong emotions.
But they feel that they don’t want to come on too strong. They’re afraid that if they really show the world their cards that people might judge them.
So, they direct a lot of that emotional energy back onto themselves.
A lot of this has to do with the kind of environment these people grew up in.
It Indicates Suppression of Feelings
Maybe as kids, their parents were too strict.
They can’t make a noise or they are discouraged from speaking up or standing up for themselves. When they feel challenged, worried, stressed, fearful, or angry, the best way that they could cope is to bite their nails.
If you see this happening in your dreams, your subconscious is telling you that you have to stop being afraid of showing others who you really are.
Your subconscious is telling you that there’s nothing wrong with being honest with your feelings and your uncertainties.
Spiritual Confidence and Nail Biting
Another spiritual meaning of nail biting involves the issue of confidence.
Just like in real life, kids who have a habit of putting their finger to their mouth or teeth and then experiencing the urge to bite their fingernails are just channeling their discomfort with displays of confidence.
Just like with an uneasiness about aggression, many people are conditioned to hold themselves down or take their confidence down a notch. They’ve been told not to rock the boat and draw attention to themselves.
Do You Have Childhood Trauma?
Adults who have this habit tend to be people who have unresolved childhood trauma from their parents.
There are a lot of parents who think that they are helping their kids mature into capable adults when they withhold affection. Kids learn early on that they have to “prove themselves.”
The problem is this can easily be taken too far. That’s why kids choose to remain in the shadow of their parents and let their energies be sapped by the gravity of their parent’s authority.
One spiritual symbolism of this is the image of biting your nails because you don’t want to speak out and let your needs be heard.
Nail Biting Spiritually Means the Inability to Express Yourself Properly
Instead of speaking up, taking control, taking risks, and dealing with the consequences, we’d rather do something that is relatively harmless.
Nail biting is an indicator that you are unable to express yourself properly in certain areas of your life.
Maybe it’s your work, your business partner, your business involving your partners, or your relationships.
You’d rather focus on biting your nails because you are so afraid that you may say the wrong thing at the wrong time and possibly alienate people.
But doing so only retards your confidence.
Please understand that whenever you’re dealing with anybody, regardless of how well you know them, you run the risk of offending them. That’s the price you pay for mutual self-discovery.
This is the risk we run as we go on this journey to better and better levels of self-knowledge and mutual comfort.
For you to truly know another person, you have to take the risks of trying to understand them, and in the process, there’s a chance that you might say the wrong thing at the wrong time and offend them.
Most people are okay with this kind of risk, but the problem is you may be so uncomfortable with yourself and don’t trust yourself enough to do the right thing.
You May Be Suffering from Alienation
People who are separated from their true spirit and spiritual path suffer something called alienation.
Deep down inside, you feel that there are certain things that you should be doing.
Deep down inside, you feel that you are supposed to be living a different kind of life because you are a different kind of person.
You Are Uncomfortable That You Are Far from Ideal
Nail biting in your dreams can indicate the spiritual disconnect between who you know yourself to be and who you think you should be.
The nail biting is just the tip of the iceberg because it indicates a profound sense of dissonance within you on a spiritual level.
And this doesn’t just remain at a fairly shallow and harmless level, mind you. It can run deep and have wide-ranging implications in many areas of your life.
Beware of Lying to Yourself
The truth is a very scary thing for most people, even complete “normal” people. I myself am not exactly fully comfortable with the truth.
It’s one thing to believe in things that are acceptable to us, things that we can tolerate, or things that we can live with on a day-to-day basis.
But it takes quite a bit of spiritual maturity to not only listen to but constantly deal with unpleasant and inconvenient truths.
As you probably already know, you’re not a perfect person. No one is.
We’ve all fallen short of what we should be doing and who we should be.
We have fallen short of our ideals. In many cases, we’re living far below our potential.
This of course is the kind of realization that most people would rather walk around, much like an 800-lb elephant in the room.
But it takes courage to say: “I’m tired of living this way. I’m tired of trying to make excuses for my own failures.”
It takes courage and a willingness to overcome moral cowardice to pick apart the things that you’ve done wrong.
Your Frustrations Can Lead You to the Answer
Make no mistake. People who bite their nails are either nervous, bored, anxious, lonely, or they’re going through a wide range of other emotional and psychological states.
When you have dreams of this type of imagery, your subconscious is telling you that there are many things that are unsettled in your life that you wish were settled.
In many cases, you probably are imagining that they are settled.
• Was your birth an accident?
• Did your parents plan you?
• Did you settle for the person that you married?
• Is the person you’re with far from your ideal?
• Is the job that you have your dream job?
I could go on and on.
A lot of us would like to just walk around these areas of frustration and come up with a ready list of coping questions and mental states.
Many people would say:
“Well, what good would it do? I’m in too far, and I’m way deep into this.
There’s no way I can turn the ship back.”
If that’s true, then why are you frustrated?
If you’re completely honest with yourself, if that’s true, then all of this is just simply too far gone, why is this even an issue?
Why do you see yourself biting your nails and feeling a sense of spiritual emptiness or at least a deep sense of unease?
This is an issue.
Your Personal Spirituality Is Crying Out
You have to look at your spiritual aspect as some sort of personal GPS. Just like with the GPS of a car, you will know if you made the wrong turn.
You will also know when the GPS is recalculating and trying to give you another route to get to where you want to go if things are just taking too long as a result of an earlier mistake.
Pretty soon, it all comes together.
You start realizing that the reason why you seem to be going from one justification to one explanation to another only to end up with some sort of convoluted persona biography of who you think you should be, is because you are refusing to recognize your mistakes.
Certain choices are only mistakes because they led you to a place you don’t want to be.
There are two things that you can do at this point.
On one hand, you can take ownership and say: “I am where I am and there is no turning back so I need to make better decisions from here on out.”
One of those better decisions is to accept where you are and see the opportunities that that place brings to the table.
The other way to deal with this, of course, is to just say that it was all a mistake and that there is another answer that was the right one.
The question then becomes: “Are you willing to pay the price in terms of your pride as well as in terms of your resources to get back to that earlier stage to recapture lost ground?”
Neither of these approaches is perfect. It all really depends on your circumstances.
But if you are faced with a lot of frustration, the worst thing that you can do is to symbolically bite your nails and hope for the storm to pass.
The truth is it’s never going to pass because the problem is rooted in your heart.
You know you’ve made a mistake. You know you’ve made the wrong call.
And the real tragedy is the regret that you will bring to your grave unless you take one of the steps I’ve outlined above.
Dream interpretation and symbology have fascinated me ever since I read Freud’s classic, “The Interpretation of Dreams.” Ever since, I have explored Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist as well as Jungian psychological ideas about the meaning of dreams. Thanks for joining me in my exploration of the amazing intersection between our conscious waking world and the rich expanse of our subconscious-the home of our intuition, instincts, and hidden potential.