It was fourth grade. We stood in the cafeteria line. “Girls can’t crack their knuckles,” proclaimed one of the boys. My yet-to-be-defined feminist senses were tingling. I responded, “I can crack my knuckles!” So I did, and I kept cracking my knuckles. I thought it was cool. Over time, cracking my knuckles turned into cracking lots of other areas of my body.
This semester, I’ve been taking a cognitive-behavioral therapy course. Our semester-long project is to correct a maladaptive habit, so my first thought was to try to work on my knuckle-cracking. The habit itself doesn’t really bother me, except for its occasional inconvenience. What bothers me more is that the habit tends to bother other people. I’ll crack something and gross out my company.
To begin my project, I needed to start gathering some baseline data. I decided I’d note the time that I crack my knuckles, the situation I’m in, my stress levels, my feelings and my thoughts. Seemed like this would be easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy. After all, I don’t crack my knuckles that often. Well, surprise: my baseline assessment has turned out to be a lot more difficult than I expected. For one, it’s really raised my awareness about just how often I crack my knuckles, more than I originally thought. I also tend to crack my knuckles more frequently while I’m in classes, which can make denoting the information about each episode difficult.
Despite the inconvenience, conducting this self-research has been interesting. I’m only a week and a half into my study, but I’ve already started to notice patterns. I thought my knuckle-cracking was a senseless habit, but I tend to do it more often when I’m focused — working on homework, in class, etc. I doubt that’s coincidental. Soon, I’ll be able to look more into that pattern by analyzing my findings. I’m excited to see what statistically significant trends I find. I’m also excited to try to mend my habit with a treatment plan. It’s fun to play the psychologist, even if it’s only on myself. Who knows, maybe I’ll have kicked my habit by finals.