What Having These 11 Quirky Habits Reveals About Your Personality, According To Science
We all have a few (or many) interesting and quirky habits. Think about all the time you might spend biting your nails, for example, or how often you crack your knuckles loudly and boldly. These things, when done occasionally, are simply part of an average day. But if you've ever wondered what your habit say about you, there is a lot you may be able to learn about your personality from them.
Whether we're talking about how anxious you're feeling, how shy, or how assertive, the little things you do throughout the day really can say a lot. "Our habits tell us that we have a need to 'deal with' our emotional energy," clinical psychologist Dr. Josh Klapow, host of The Web Radio Show, tells Bustle. "Often these habits are not healthy but also not highly detrimental. They are merely ways that we express the emotions on the inside to provide relief. The challenge is that these behaviors we engage in signify something is out of calibration emotionally and psychologically inside."
You shouldn't read into the occasional fingernail biting session, but you may want to dig a bit deeper if you're constantly chewing your nails down to nubs, as this "nervous energy" could be a sign of anxiety. Here are a few other habits and what they might say about your personality, according to experts.
1. Cheek Biting
If you've ever caught yourself biting your lip or gnawing on the inside of your cheek, you're not alone. Some people bite their cheek occasionally, or picks at dry skin on their lips.
But if it's turned into a habit, it may reveal a deeper issue. "It's actually a pretty obsessive-compulsive habit for people ... that have an anxious personality or suffer from GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)," Natasha Solae, a personal branding coach, tells Bustle. It could also be a sign of misaligned teeth, so it may be something you'll want to bring up with your dentist.
If it's a nervous habit, however, that'll be best addressed with a therapist. Sometimes, we do things like cheek biting without even realizing it in the moment. But if you really stop and think, it likely happens more when you're feeling nervous or stressed, and a professional can help you with that.
2. Nail Biting
Nail biting is similar to cheek biting in that it has several possible causes, with one being anxiety. "Anxiety definitely can cause us to need to do something like nail biting," says Dr. Klapow. "Boredom, frustration, and even anger can lead to nail biting."
And here's why: "The act of placing our fingers in our mouth has oral satisfaction, and the internal energy we feel when we are bored, frustrated, angry, or anxious is often reduced momentarily as we transition it to the act of biting our nails," he says.
Nail biting on its own isn't an issue, but it may be worth it to address the underlying cause, for the sake of your mental health. If you're feeling nervous or anxious, speaking with a therapist or a loved one and learning better coping skills can really help.
3. Twirling Or Picking Your Hair
Pretty much everyone touches their hair throughout the day, or plays with it when they're feeling shy or nervous. But there's a big difference between causal hair touching, and a full-on hair twirling habit.
"Hair twirling is often done either out of boredom and the need for tactile stimulation. Or, out of fear/insecurity/anxiousness and the need of physical reassurance," Dr. Klapow says. "Twirling hair gives a tactile stimulation that feels good, is repetitive and rhythmic, and thus addresses both boredom and feelings of insecurity."
So, if it seems to be an ongoing issue for you — where you literally can't get through the day without tugging on your hair — it may be worth bringing up in therapy.
4. Spitting When Talking
We've all had that moment during a conversation where we're talking and a fleck of spit departs our lips, sails across the room, and lands gently on the face of the person we're speaking to. It's embarrassing, for whatever reason, but almost everyone ignores it.
It's also something that happens to pretty much everyone. But for some, it happens more often than others. According to therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, people who spit when they talk might do so because they're excited. Spitting when you talk "can mean you are very enthusiastic and excited about what you have to share with others," Hershenson says. Or, it might simply mean you have a lot of extra saliva.
5. Singing To Yourself
Do you sign out loud at random moments of the day? If so, it could be a sign you're extra confident. As Hershenson says, singing aloud may mean you are "very confident and secure, as well as an overall happy person." Does that ring true?
6. Cracking Your Knuckles
If you're someone who gets stressed out easily, you might be more likely to pop and crack your joints, according to experts. "Cracking your knuckles, back or neck ... can be a sign of anxiety, as the movement often leads to a release of tension," Hershenson says. It's OK to do so a few times a day. And no, cracking your knuckles doesn't lead to arthritis.
It might, however, mean that you're having a hard time handling the stress in your life, or that you need to find an outlet lest it build up even more.
7. Zoning Out & Fantasizing
Are you a major daydreamer? "If you spend large parts of your day zoning out and pretending to live a different life, it could reveal a lot about you," Jonathan Bennett, certified counselor and co-founder of Double Trust Dating and Relationships, tells Bustle. "It shows that you aren’t terribly satisfied in your current situation and, rather than mindfully living in the present, you escape to an alternate reality in your head."
It's something folks tend to do when they're bored, which is why it might point to dissatisfaction in your life. It could, however, simply mean you have an active imagination. So don't jump to conclusions.
8. Constantly Running Late
We all know (or are) that person who can't seem to show up on time, regardless of the situation. Sometimes, it can be chalked up to outside circumstances, like horrible traffic. But if the issue is ongoing, it may reveal some interesting things about your personality.
"Those who consistently arrive early could be conscientious. But, it also could indicate a degree of anxiety or a need to please," Bennett says. "Those who are known for being late, however, might be incredibly laid back. But, it also could indicate a 'who cares? attitude that shows disrespect for the time of other people."
9. Wearing Headphones In Public
Are you part of the "headphones in public" club? If so, there's a good chance you're shy and/or introverted. As Bennett says, "Headphones cut you off from interaction with the outside world. It reveals that you’d rather focus on your inner life and interests rather than interact with external forces (either positive or negative)." And hey, if that works for you, it's nothing to worry about.
10. Scab Picking
Scab picking, like nail biting and hair twirling, can reveal underlying anxiety. As Dr. Klapow says, "The removal of a scab has both a tactile component, so it gives us something to feel when we are anxious and the action itself allows us to feel success or 'closure' momentarily when the scab is removed. When we feel insecure, anxious, unfulfilled we may notice picking at scabs." If you're a skin picker, follow up with a therapist. They'll be able to figure out if it's due to something like anxiety.
11. Talking With Your Hands
While not a bad habit in any way, talking with your hands can certainly tell others a lot about who you are as a person. "It can stem from a couple of origins," Dr. Klapow says. "The first is having too much pent up energy that is not dissipated by verbal speech only. Basically when our bodies are experiencing too much arousal (i.e. during public speaking, talking about a topic we feel passionate about, etc.) we need to get rid of it. Our hands help us expel some of the energy."
So, the more emotional energy you have, the more you may speak with your hands. But it can also reveal that you're measured and calm, depending on your gestures. "We also use our hands to help pace our speech and keep us on task," Dr. Klapow says. "It's as if our hand are used to conduct our speech like a conductor conducts an orchestra. We do this when the topic is important to us and we perceive the need to be persuasive and correct."
Little habits like these certainly don't define us as people, and they can't necessarily be categorized as "bad" or "good." But they often reveal something deeper about our personalities, our inner turmoil, and the things that are most important to us. If one of these habits is bothering you, it might help to point it out to a therapist. If it is, in fact, due to something like anxiety or stress, working on the underlying issue may resolve the habit.