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What is the connection between trauma, over-explaining and oversharing?
Both over-explaining and oversharing fall under the fawn trauma response. This is an instinctual response associated with a need to avoid conflict by adopting appeasing behaviours.
Some common characteristics of the fawn response includes:
Avoiding conflict at personal cost
Difficulty saying no
Difficulty setting boundaries
Feeling overly concerned with 'fitting in'
*i.e. 'masking' which is a form of 'social chameleoning' where a person adapts their behaviour in order to be accepted in a given environment.
Quick recap, why do we over-explain?
If you missed it, I published an article last week which discusses this in greater detail - 'Over-explaining: what is is, why you do it, and ways to stop'.
You want to keep safe
You have been gaslit in your past
You may need people to understand you in order to feel protected
You may feel the need to justify yourself and your decisions to make someone accept you and your actions.
You may be a peace-keeper and over-explain as a result
You feel the need to defend yourself
Now, why do we overshare?
Many of the roots of oversharing are similar to why we tend to over-explain (above) but here are some others:
You may overshare in an attempt to fit in, or create a different, 'more appealing' persona. i.e. the fawn response.
You may have low self-esteem. Oversharing can be a subconscious way to try and prove that you have value.
You may be stuck in the 'victim mentality' as a result of trauma. The 'victim mentality' essentially means that you gain your sense of power and agency by having a dependency on others to sympathise with your pain. For example, oversharing is the result of an attempt to gain sympathy for validation.
Dr Caroline Leaf created a 5-Step Neurocycle to rewire your brain in order to challenge over-explaining and oversharing. Let me outline it here:
STEP 1: GATHER
For over-explaining: start with something recent that happened and observe your thinking. Did you apologise a lot? Did you struggle to say no? Did you feel the need to give lots of detail so the other person understood you? Did you over-anticipate how this person will respond when you set a boundary? Did you focus on the worst case scenario?
For oversharing: think of ways you tend to overshare. Do you post intimate details about your relationships and friendships online? Do you use social media to dump your frustrations? Do you overshare in social situations? Get clear on how do you overshare. How does this make you feel emotionally and physically? Try and remind yourself that oversharing doesn't create intimacy.
STEP 2: REFLECT
Ask, answer and discuss what you have gathered in STEP 1 to get to the core of what you are doing, why you are doing it and what impact this has on your life and relationships.
STEP 3: WRITE
Write down your reflections to help organise your thinking and gain more clarity into what is going on in your life.
STEP 4: RE-CHECK
How can you reframe this in healthier ways?
STEP 5: PRACTICE YOUR NEW WAY OF THINKING
A few examples of how to do this:
Celebrate setting boundaries without questioning your reasoning
Give yourself full permission to feel whatever you are feeling when you say 'no'
This Friday I am hosting a Q&A and would love to see you there. Submit any questions ahead of time to make sure they get answered and learn from this community, too. To join, click the link below.