You’re Hiding: The Real Reason Behind Over-Explaining
Talking with a friend recently, I found myself over-explaining why I took my daughter to see “Frozen” the musical. For some reason, I felt I needed to justify this outing because others may not approve of it. The real reason we went was because it was fun! My daughter loves singing, dancing, and watching the “Frozen” movie. I knew she’d enjoy seeing a musical for the first time- especially this one.
But instead of emphasizing our magnificent experience to my friend, I kept reiterating how we got the tickets at a discount. I also explained how we decided to keep my daughter home from school the next day since it was a school night. We wanted to make sure she got enough sleep. I then went on to remind this person how it was a special mother-daughter outing- just for the two of us.
While sharing these details wasn’t wrong, it was why I was sharing these specific details that was troublesome. In the back of my mind, I feared judgment or rejection from this other person for spending a certain amount of money or having my daughter out late on a school night. There was also concern that this other person would feel left out for not being included in my mother-daughter event.
Why couldn’t I just explain how wonderful it was to spend time with my daughter? Why did I feel the need to justify doing this fun event?
After my over-explaining, I felt saddened. I had cheated myself and this other person by not actually sharing about experience or how I felt about it. Rather than opening up, I hid myself. I was too afraid of the other person’s response to be genuine.
We can all fall into the trap of over-explaining at times, but why? If your over-explaining doesn’t have to do with being a chatterbox (which I’m not), there’s a deeper reason behind it. When we over-explain, we usually do it out of fear of another person’s response. We feel the need to please others, so we hide things about ourselves or our experiences that other people may not like. We over-explain to justify our decisions so that the other person will approve of us. This auto-response can develop over time as a form of self-protection, especially if you’ve been in an abusive relationship.
Within that abusive relationship, your words or actions may have been repeatedly questioned, scrutinized, minimized, or criticized to the point where you lost sight of yourself and how you felt. Over time, you learned to avoid conflict by overanalyzing how the other person thinks and feels in conversations- looking at facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and so forth. You learned to push aside your own feelings to please the other person because that seemed easier than receiving that individual’s harsh criticism.
Even now if you are long past that abusive relationship, you may be on guard with how to present yourself so that you are considered suitable. At the root of your over-explaining, you fear being diminished and unacceptable to the other person(s) because that is how you were treated in the past. Someone you loved or who was supposed to love you, made you feel unworthy, unbelievable, and unacceptable. You had to mold and adapt to justify the decisions you made and how you felt to minimize the abuse. And at the end of it, you lost yourself.
If you’ve been hiding in conversations, how can you stop? How can you begin having genuine conversations and stop over-explaining?
How to Stop Over-Explaining
1) Recognize When You Do It
First, there must be a level of understanding, or at least an acknowledgment, that you hid a part of yourself in a conversation by over-explaining. It’s important to begin looking into why you said what you did and to whom. Did you fear that person’s judgment? Did you feel that person wanted you to be someone that you’re not? If you recognize over-explaining or justifying your responses to get others’ approval, then this is a sign that you’re hiding yourself to please others.
2) Know Your Worth
God created you as a valuable, needed, and loved person on this planet. When you lean more into the Lord, He will show you your true worth and value. Spending time in prayer and studying His Word, allows your heart and mind to be renewed with truth. Your mind is constantly bombarded with lies throughout the day. And some of those lies have been stuck there for a long time. This is why it’s important to stay in the Word of God to fuel your soul. Otherwise, you will go back to the seeds of doubt that were planted there in your past.
So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.Matthew 10:31
3) Practice Being Confident & Honest
Practice speaking confidently when someone questions you, doubts you, or just wants to know more about you. Those who struggle with people pleasing may find someone questioning or wanting to know more information terrifying. It can trigger your brain into going into a protective mode to avoid conflict.
It’s hard to be honest when you fear someone may disapprove of you or your decisions. But, it’s important to be genuine- not conforming to who others want you to be or who you believe they want you to be. God created you with a separate heart, mind, body, and soul that is meant to be used and expressed according to His Word. Hiding or changing your voice to conform to others’ wants isn’t glorifying God. It’s glorifying man.
Using your voice may be difficult at first, but you can rehearse out loud or practice in front of a mirror. This doesn’t mean being challenging or aggressive in your response. This simply means being confident in your words, thoughts, and abilities.
If you struggle with people pleasing, you most likely already do a good job of considering others’ thoughts and feelings. You are also probably keen on taking in what others are saying. So, it’s important to use your voice to add to the conversation. Be confident in what God has placed in your heart and mind. Your presence and voice matter.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.Romans 12:2
4) Be Gracious to Yourself
When you over-explain or justify your decisions unnecessarily, give yourself some grace. Everyone does it on occasion, so you probably won’t completely stop doing it. But, at the end of the day, look back and remember how valuable you are to God. Ask for His guidance in navigating conversation. Your light isn’t meant to be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put in under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.Matthew 5:15