Let me tell you a story about a young girl that lived down the street from me. While in high school I would baby sit for several families in the area. One girl who I will refer to as Ginny, was about 8 years old when I first met her. She was soon old enough that I was no longer needed to watch her and her siblings.

I was surprised when I ran in to her as a young teen. Her lips were red peeling and chapped. It was raw and oozing all around her mouth. There were crusty patches. in the reddened area that extended about an inch from her lips.   Her once outgoing personality had changed.  She had picked up a bad habit and had grown very self-conscious of her physical appearance.

Thinking back, it started when her bangs would fall onto her face as she was trying to grow them out. Every time her hair fell forward, he would flip them back. It was not unusual to see her see her flip her hair back several times a minute.

 But there is more to the story:

In fact, it all started when she saw some older girl, she idolized do this. Ginny thought it looked cool.   This older girl was very popular and seemed to get a lot of attention.   At first, some people seemed to notice GInny.    But she was unaware that she would often do this every 5 – 10 seconds and people did notice because it was distracting.  This hair flip thing then became followed by a head shake. However, it became a habit reeking of negative attention.   In fact, her habit was becoming a little off putting to people.  Enter – Social Anxiety. So, she would flip her hair, shake her head and then…. she started to lick her lips. Originally it was so the boys would take notice, that wet lip thing…   

This habit began to have a life of its own. If she found herself under any stress or perceived stressful situation, in which she “MIGHT” become uncomfortable her hair flipping, head shaking, lip licking would increase. The lip licking also became more intense.  No longer was she just “wetting her lips” it became very dramatic and she would be licking all around her lips.  Her anxiety would culminate in a frenzy of this behavior and at times she could be repeating this behavior every few seconds. This would go one for some time.  For her this was a meltdown.

Ginny did overcome her habit it took a conscious effort form her and some close friends that would distract her when they noticed the habit starting to manifest. And a good Dr. to help heal the damaged skin and a therapist to help her understand there was no real reason this behavior was necessary.

But what is a meltdown?

It is different for different people. People react differently to the stress hormones some are more sensitive to the hormones. Other are over thinkers some people over speculate. Some people are more vulnerable.

Most mental torment have a basis in fear. Just remember that people can become accustomed to living with fear and that keeps them from contentment and happiness. To defeat fear one must choose to be happy and focus on that which is good.

If you have panic attacks, meltdowns are when you lose all hope and are consumed with thoughts of immediate death.  

If you have emotional meltdowns it means you have reached the boundaries of your resilience.  No matter what triggered it. Things like fatigue, stress, worry, … something from your past.  Example: Normally a rubber band is pliable, but when it becomes brittle it loses its resilience and it will snap under stress.

In all cases the goal is to get to the place where you do not have meltdowns or any extreme behaviors. The fact is if you get to the point of extreme reactions or fear it is because the adrenaline caused by panic, anxiety, stress or extreme worry kept flowing and was not stopped.   You must learn to control the thought patterns that lead you to that place.  And take back control of your life by learning how to stop stress hormones as soon as they start!

To eradicate meltdowns, you must learn to understand that there is no reason to exhibit out of control behavior.  You must learn to not let your emotions steamroll you into a behavior that you want to change.

There is a good article from Good life Zen about 7 signs of an emotional meltdown. NOTE THE ARTICLE ADDRESSES THE FACT THAT THESE TYPE OF MELTDOWN RESPONSES CAN BECOME HABITUAL! 

Often the foundation of any meltdown is habitual in nature.  Many times, another thing to consider with emotional meltdowns, they can appear very dramatic almost like acting 101. It may be a cry for attention and friendship but the result is often negative attention.   Let go of the drama, change the way you think, to start to change the way you behave.  NO matter what the cause, the way to get back into control is the same.  When in control – meltdowns, drama, mental torment will no longer hold a place in our life, and you can find peace and joy.

Things that become habitual – your actions, your emotional responses can be corrected but you need first to start to take your thoughts captive so that the roller coaster of actions such as  be it hiding, screaming,  pounding, crying, do not go through the entire ride. You need to get off the roller coaster immediately.

Take steps to calm yourself down, call your go to person, carry a card with positives statements, words of hope, and the promises of God.  

Everyone has times where a meltdown could start but if you quickly take control of those runaway thoughts and emotions that control your behavior you can get back in control quickly so that maybe no one even noticed.  

For those with long term habitual behaviors therapists can be extremely helpful. I believe that Christian Cognitive Behavior Therapists tend to treat people and help them find an end date to treatment.  This happens when the individual learns the promises of God and enters a relational ship with Him. Then they can become free.  I have friends with anxiety and depression that keep having to go back to counselors year after year.  They may be able to control their anxiety but they are not free.

2 Corinthians10:5    casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

Philippians 4 tells us to be anxious for nothing and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  The verse even guides you on what to meditate on– things that are noble pure, lovely…


Ginny was envious of the attention of another. She looked to this person and imitated her behavior. She was deceived to think that this behavior would make her more popular. She did not realize this behavior was becoming a habit. She got attention that turned out to be negative attention. She was embarrassed about her physical appearance and became anxious. Some of it was social anxiety. This habit becomes associated with stress and anxiety. Her habit and appearance became off putting to people which would cause more stress.  Her thought pattern was to flip, shake and lick.

She knew that if she stopped licking her lips they would heal…but her habit held her hostage.

Take back control of our life and do not let your behaviors dictate who you are to others.


Everyone has them but have you let a woe is me attitude overpower your thoughts? If you have become self-absorbed in negativity it is like building a box around yourself that keeps people out. A negative attitude or behavior can be very trying on those around you. Just like the bugs swarm to a light outside, when you change to a positive outlook people will begin to swarm around you in earnest.  You can not give up to soon. You must retrain your brain to embrace this NEW YOU.  SO become a light! Set a course to defeat any old emotional wounds by overpowering them with hope. During this process do not resort to self-pity because it is self-defeating.

The bible tells us to become childlike that is full of wonder joy and laughter. No wonder why children laugh at least 90% more than adults!


Fake it till you make it.

Repetition of good thoughts and actions will overcome, fill in the ruts of negative thoughts and behaviors. 


Be a listener not a talker, or complainer.

Compliment take interest in another ask a question.

Do not jump into unloading your struggles that can fry a relationship.

Be a contributor to another’s quest for peace and joy not a taker.

The promises of God can set you free!


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FYI There is a wide array of oral habits including lip licking and nail biting.  Some are related to anxiety some are just habitual.