If You Overexplain, These 7 Reasons Might Be Why
If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, it might seem that I’m pretty articulate in getting my thoughts across. That’s the benefit of writing and revision: I feel much more confident when communicating in this way and I don’t have the immediacy of conversation to cause me anxiety. That’s because I’m a chronic “overexplainer” — talk to me in person or on a call, and I’ll keep talking… and talking. The more anxious I am, the longer it goes on.
1. You’re attempting to avoid real or perceived conflict.
If you’ve experienced an abusive relationship or childhood, you might overexplain to avoid conflict, even if that conflict doesn’t exist. This is part of what’s known as “fawning” — the fourth trauma response alongside fight, flight, and freeze. Overexplaining in this way may have been a way to survive in the past, but it’s no longer sustainable in the present.
2. You’ve experienced gaslighting, and you’re making sure your words can’t be warped.
Following on from an abusive relationship, it may be that you’re a victim of gaslighting and you’re used to explaining every little detail so that your words can’t be used against you. For example, if you feel like you have to phrase things in lots of different ways, consider every possible hidden or unintended meaning, and you’re worried about how your words might be used in response, you might overexplain to protect yourself.
3. You’re anxious about not being understood, or being misunderstood.
While not necessarily a trauma response, the anxiety of not being understood can be enough to cause you to overexplain. Maybe somebody made you feel foolish in the past, you grew up feeling invalidated, or something you said was taken out of context and it turned out badly. Whatever the reason, your anxiety now causes you to try and stop it from happening again. Remember that everybody experiences anxiety, but if it’s affecting your functioning, you deserve to get help.
4. You have ADHD and rejection sensitive dysphoria.
There are a few reasons why ADHD can make you an overexplainer. My anxiety aside, this is one of the biggest reasons for me! With ADHD, you might overexplain when you’re talking about something you’re passionate about and you really just want the other person to know about it too. Or, you’re caught in the midst of racing thoughts and you just can’t stop talking. Then, there’s rejection sensitive dysphoria, an ADHD symptom that causes extreme sensitivity to perceived rejection and, as a result, may make you overexplain as a way to avoid that rejection.
5. Planning for all possible outcomes or responses in an official setting.
Whether it’s booking a doctor’s appointment or getting help with your taxes, the anxiety of dealing with “official settings” can be enough to cause you to overexplain. Sometimes, the need to plan for every possible question can make it hard not to give a receptionist every single detail about your needs when a quick summary would suffice.
6. When brain fog makes it slow to process thoughts.
Though not always related to mental health, brain fog — whether that’s pain fog, fatigue, or another chronic illness — can cause slower thought processing which, in turn, can make you feel the need to overexplain.
7. You’re a chatty person, and that’s OK.
If none of the above sounds familiar, then there’s another option: you could just be a chatty person who likes to explain things a lot, and honestly? That’s absolutely OK. If you “overexplain,” it’s important to self-analyze. Are you feeling anxious? Is it reminiscent of something in childhood, or in a past relationship? Or, is it simply a part of who you are?
Whatever the reason, it’s important to work on your tendency to overexplain if it causes you distress. If not, then is there a problem to begin with? “Overexplaining” might just be a part of our beautiful neurodiversity, and we deserve to be accepted for that diversity so long as it’s not causing you harm or distress. You are never too much, and if you need to explain more than the average person right now, that’s absolutely OK.
Why do you think you overexplain? Let me know in the comments!
Getty Images photo via svetikd