Over-explaining: what it is, why you do it, and ways to stop.

The need to over-explain is often formed in childhood in response to a fear of being criticised, rejected or abandoned if others don't accept you, or what you are saying.


Many of us learnt that love or approval would be taken away or jeopardised if we don't perform, or say the right things. This may lead to panic if we aren't believed and we can become desperate to get our point across and accepted.


Ultimately, when we feel the overwhelming need to explain ourselves or have our voice validated and accepted from others, it comes from an unhealed place of fear.


Over-explaining is an extremely common coping mechanism.


There are a few reasons why we might use over-explaining as a way of coping. It can be a trauma response. It can be developed as a result of gaslighting. If you suffer with anxiety you may feel the need to over-explain. ADHD can also lead to over-explaining. We may do it to validate our choices and ease any guilt we feel. It can also be a result of childhood conditioning where you were overly encouraged to justify actions and choices.


For most, when the need to over-explain or defend yourself is activated it can become very disempowering. It places your power in the hands of the person who decides whether to accept and validate you or what you are saying.


Your subconscious belief system could look like:


'Love and acceptance is conditional upon being understood'

'I'll be rejected or abandoned if they don't believe me or understand me'


The patterns you may notice once you prioritise this in your awareness may include:


Over-apologising

Fear of abandonment and rejection

Over defending and explaining your reasoning

Unable to feel at ease unless others validate you and your opinions

Being hyper-attuned to others' behaviour and views on certain topics

Feeling a sense of panic when others are unable to see your perspective.


How to stop over-explaining:

  1. Reflect on where the over-explaining comes from

  2. Identify what your triggers are

  3. Learn to sit with the discomfort of 'disappointing' people and saying no.

  4. Challenge your beliefs and assumptions around it.

  5. Leave room for others to ask questions

  6. Ask yourself this question - "Am I explaining or am I doing it just so I can ease an uncomfortable feeling?"

I run monthly Q&A sessions and I would love to see you there if you have any questions about your own personal development journey. It is a great opportunity for you to get your questions answered and to learn from this community, too. To book your slot click the link below.



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