We’re all familiar with fortune tellers who claim to be able to divine deep insight into our lives from the lines that crisscross our palms. But did you know that your feet also have stories to tell? According to ancient Chinese and Indian philosophies, everything from the shape of your feet to the angle of your toes can reveal your true personality – so read on to find out their secrets.
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20. Wide Feet
Many believe that having wide feet equates to you being a hard worker. If you’re wide footed then you’re the sort of person who needs to always be busy – meaning that it’s sometimes difficult for you to feel able to take time to relax and reflect.
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19. Narrow Feet
If your feet are narrow, it’s said that you may well have a love for the finer things in life, plus a penchant for pampering and being in attractive surroundings. What’s more, you’re excellent at assigning tasks to others – perhaps chores like running you a perfumed bath, for example.
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18. Big Toes
It’s believed that if your big toes are noticeably lengthier than their smaller friends, it suggests you’re a creative type who’s full of ideas. On the other hand, if those big toes are a little on the small side, you’re likely to be a people person and great at multi-tasking – good things all round, really.
17. Second Toes
The lengths of your second toes are thought to denote leadership qualities, so the longer they are, the more it may mean that you like things to happen your way. In Trinidad and Tobago, local folklore even has it that a woman with a second toe that’s longer than her big toe will dominate her husband.
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16. Third Toes
Your third toes are said to be an indicator of determination and drive, and if you have long ones, the Chinese believe that it means you have plenty of willpower. Still, don’t fret if your third toes are somewhat shorter than average; in fact, you probably won’t fret in the first place, as – so we’re told – you’re more prone to chilling out instead and don’t generally let life overwhelm you.
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15. Fourth Toes
Your fourth toes are believed to reveal a lot about your relationships with family and those you love. If they’re long and straight, family is important to you; any curled fourth toes, though, could indicate that you may not always be on great terms with your nearest and – usually – dearest.
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14. Baby Toes
If you have small baby toes, it’s likely that you exhibit many childlike tendencies – or so the thinking goes. And while you might be reluctant to take on responsibility, at least you’ll always be up for a laugh.
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13. The Arches
High arches on your feet suggest that you’re a solitary sort who enjoys your own company. Flatter feet, on the other hand, are said to point to your social butterfly status as well as the idea that you’re somewhat reliant on the support of others.
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12. Toes That Evenly Graduate in Size
It’s held that toes which neatly increase in size from the small toe onward can indicate a similarly balanced personality. You’re practical, loyal and can be relied upon to get things done. Be careful, though, as your scrupulous attention to detail might lead you to unfairly judge others when they don’t meet your own meticulous standards.
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11. Flaky Skin
Got flaky skin on your feet? Well, Chinese medicine associates the skin with your ability to cope with life. So if the surface of your feet is in poor condition, you may just need to chill out and take care of yourself more often.
Bunions may be painful, so here’s some consolation: they’re apparently indicative of a kind heart. Your own bunions could mean, then, that you’re prioritizing others’ needs ahead of your own and feeling overloaded as a consequence.
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A callus anywhere on your feet is a sign that something is up, but if there’s one on the ball of your foot in particular, it may indicate that you’re putting yourself through the wringer too much – or even just that you need to stand up a bit straighter, since the aforementioned part of the body is said to represent the shoulders.
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8. The Angles of Your Toes
Crooked toes aren’t always a bad thing. If your little toe isn’t straight, for example, many believe that you’re a one-of-a-kind individual with a quirky, unconventional personality. If the last joint of your third toe is somewhat angled, by contrast, your seemingly effortless capability to deceive others might make you excellent at espionage.
7. Webbed Toes
Be proud, rather than ashamed, of your webbed toes, as they could indicate a high level of intelligence. If those second and third toes are webbed, however, there’s something else to note: your sense of self-worth could very well be linked with the success – or otherwise – of your chosen endeavors.
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Do you find it easy to bend and flex your feet, or are they stiff and rigid? If it’s the latter, it could reflect your attitude. People with inflexible feet are, similarly, thought to have a tendency to be narrow-minded and set in their ways.
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5. Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot isn’t just an itchy and uncomfortable way of your body telling you that you need to get to a pharmacist. Apparently, it also means that you’re a bit short-tempered on occasion and tend to let those little niggling issues affect you more than they really should.
4. Gaps Between the Toes
If there is a gap between your big toe and your second toe, it’s suggested that you are impulsive and tend to act before thinking. Meanwhile, a space between your second and third toe denotes rather the opposite: that you’re less prone to letting your emotions rule your head and would rather push them away.
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3. Change in Foot Size
It’s not as uncommon as you might think for your feet to change size during your adult years. If you find that your feet have gotten bigger, then, well there’s another deeper meaning to it, perhaps: that a positive change in your life is seeking to be recognized.
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2. Hard Skin on the Heel
Hard skin on the heel area of your foot should make you contemplate more than just booking yourself in for a pedicure. That’s because it suggests that you might be unsure about your path in life and don’t really know what to do next.
1. Big Toe Pads
Even the pads of your toes and their relative size can tell you something about yourself, so we’re told. If they’re oversized, for example, you’re likely to be someone who thinks carefully and hard about everything before ever making any firm decisions.
You don’t just need to look at someone’s feet to get a sense of who they really are, though. After all, that could be rather awkward if you’ve only just met. Thankfully, hands can also tell us a lot about a person’s character. We go for palm readings, for instance, and we can infer a great deal from the firmness of a handshake. But what about nail-biting? A lot of us do it – and it turns out the habit can reveal an underlying personality trait.
It could be an intense football game, with both teams tied as the clock winds down. Television cameras pan over the audience, showing members of the crowd looking anxious. “It’s a real nail-biter,” the commentator says, as the teams set up for their next play.
It might also be a scary movie or a thriller, with each scene bringing an unexpected surprise. Or it could even be the fear of the unknown and confusion in your own personal life. We call those events “nail-biters,” too – but are stressful conditions really the cause of you chewing your own talons?
And such questions have made the nail-biting debate a long-raging one. Arguably one of the most talked-about points, though, is whether or not nail biting is a healthy habit. Another common query, meanwhile, is how those who constantly chew their nails can stop doing so.
Well, many experts agree that biting your nails is not great for your health, at least, with the most obvious reason being that our hands often touch unclean surfaces. Indeed, no matter how often you wash your hands, they can still transfer bacteria to your mouth. And as a result, the chances that you’ll catch a cold or other infection may increase.
Furthermore, if you bite too often, you can cause an infection of the skin surrounding your nails, too. Those with the habit know only too well how painful this can be: the skin turns red, swells and then just plain hurts.
And it gets worse. Have you ever bitten a nail near to a wart on your finger, for instance? Well, most people don’t realize that this increases the chances of warts spreading to other parts of your hand. Indeed, as Mayo Clinic dermatologist Dr. Rochelle Torgerson told The Huffington Post in 2014, “The more open skin you have, the more you’re going to spread [the virus that can lead to warts].”
In addition, nail-biting can cause lasting damage to the health and appearance of your nails. Any infection or inflammation to the skin in that area, in fact, can lead to nails with bumps or ridges. So, if you’ve ever wondered where those little lines came from, that may be the reason.
Yet despite all of these potential side effects, many people continue to chew their nails. And for a long time, there has been a widely accepted explanation for doing so: stress. Specifically, doctors such as Torgerson believe that the habit is a way to channel or reduce one’s anxiety.
However, new research points to a different – and surprising – explanation for this particular bad habit. And it’s down to the fact that one in 20 people have body-focused repetitive disorders – an umbrella term under which nail biting falls. Other behaviors, such as picking skin or pulling hair, are also considered to be disorders of this kind.
However, these habits aren’t linked entirely to stress. In fact, they’re more closely related to tic disorders – sudden muscle movements that are difficult to control. Such repetitive behavior is also distantly aligned with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which encompasses uncontrollable behaviors and thoughts. For example, a person with OCD might be overcome with fears of germs and sickness and so wash their hands multiple times in a row.
So, with these connections in mind, researchers decided to explore the reasons why people bite their nails. They also thought it likely that body-focused repetitive disorders were linked to something deeper than stress, since the behaviors are so hard to control.
They started, then, by surveying 48 participants, 24 of whom had body-focused repetitive disorders. And, intriguingly, the researchers subsequently found that those in the nail-biting group scored as “organizational perfectionists” in the survey. This means that they tend to overthink, over-plan and work too hard; they also frequently become irritated with low activity levels.
Taking into account this information, scientists then put their subjects into situations engineered to elicit four different emotions: stress, relaxation, frustration and boredom. In particular, they wanted to see how each emotion caused those with body-focused behavior disorders to react.
So, those in charge of the study had their subjects watch a movie of a plane crash in order to generate stress. For relaxation, meanwhile, soothing footage of waves was played. Participants were then left in an empty room in order to make them feel bored. Then the researchers gave each subject an extra-hard puzzle; they told the individuals it was an easy puzzle, though, just to create feelings of frustration.
And in each situation, the scientists sat back and observed how the subjects reacted. Moreover, they found that those with body-focused behavior disorders engaged in nail biting – or other repetitive disorders like hair pulling or skin picking – in every scenario except the relaxing one.
As a result, the scientists deduced that stress is not the only cause for people to start biting their nails. Indeed, boredom and frustration can be a trigger for people to start doing so, too.
What’s more, the researchers findings’ didn’t end there, either. They further theorized, for example, that because these habits temporarily reduce boredom and frustration, they might be a side effect of perfectionism. Yes, those who bite their nails might all be perfectionists deep down.
And this hypothesis falls in line with other research into habitual scratching and biting. Indeed, previous studies have showed that the actions made perfectionists feel better because they were doing something, rather than sitting around and doing nothing at all.
Of course, after partaking in their habits of choice, often people subsequently feel embarrassed or pained. And because it isn’t well known that these behaviors may be caused by an underlying perfectionism, many attribute them to stress and weak willpower. Consequently, this causes more frustration, which only serves to reinforce the habits.
However, researchers hope that their findings will help those who suffer from such disorders – by finding the right therapy, say, to combat them. Indeed, it seems as if learning other ways to deal with tension – whether it’s caused by stress, boredom or dissatisfaction – is the key to letting go of nervous habits and letting those beautiful nails grow.