Why you might be overexplaining yourself and why you should stop?

When you overexplain, it’s you trying to accommodate other people by justifying yourself and your choices to them. It signals that you’re seeking some level of external approval or permission that you’re not able to give yourself.

You might be over-explaining because you have people pleaser tendencies and you’re worried that the other person might not like what you have to say. You hope that your over-explaining will be enough to nullify any potential negative reaction. And so, you over-explain.

Or perhaps you’re trying to avoid conflict. You think that by saying everything at once, every possible rebuttal to what you think they might say, that they’ll have to accept what you say and you can avoid any possible back and forth.

Whilst other people might not know the reason you’re doing it, they’ll probably be able to notice that you’re over-explaining.

I recently found myself needing to set a boundary. I spent ages planning out what I would say whilst also trying to control the outcome. It got to the point where what should have been a short clear statement was instead a lengthy monologue.

I noticed that I was making something simple become long-winded. But, my awareness of what I was doing made me realise that I could do something different.

And so, I asked myself what is the least that I can say to get the message across?

Sometimes instead of just speaking up for ourselves and what we do or don’t need, we focus too much on other people. We ask ourselves, how will they feel and how can I mitigate that? However, the problem with this is that you don’t learn to fully be yourself. Instead you learn to be a fragmented version of yourself that aims to please or appease and all your needs go unmet.

You can work to overcome this by focusing on keeping things simple. Ask yourself, ‘What is the least that I can say to get the message across?’ and just say that. Remember that a back and forth doesn’t mean conflict, it can simply be the other person trying to understand.

It might feel weird at first, it might not even go smoothly at first, perhaps you’ll even feel like you’re being inconsiderate. But when you value yourself you’ll realise that it’s worth it.

Setting boundaries badly

I think a big reason why we sometimes avoid setting boundaries is because we think don’t know how to do it. However, it turns out the setting boundaries is like everything else, getting good takes practice.

And so like Zig Ziglar said ‘anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you can learn to do it well’.

Instead of shying away from setting boundaries because you think you’ll do it badly, embrace where you’re at and in time you’ll get better at it.

Change the way you respond

If something happens and your feelings get hurt or you don’t like the way that someone has treated you, it’s important to do something about it.

It’s easy to get into the habit of sheepishly speaking up then cowering and retreating when the other person shuts you down.

When this happens, the other person learns that they can easily over step your boundary and essentially disrespect you.

And so it continues on and on until you change the way you respond.

You have to back yourself, speak up for the things you’re not okay with and make it clear that you aren’t willing to accept certain things.

It may sound simple for some but for others the idea that they don’t have to just accept being treated poorly is kinda revolutionary.

Words unspoken

Just because something is on your mind, doesnt mean it needs to be said.

It might seem like a radical concept but not everything needs to be shared.

That idea might seem so far from where we’re currently at because when it comes to social media it often seems that we should push the boundaries and share more.

What’s best for you?

Sometimes when it comes to doing what’s best for you, you don’t consider yourself to be important.

And so, instead of making a decision based on what’s best for you and your wellbeing you put other people first.

You make choices based on people pleasing and fear of letting people down or having them be disappointed.

When you do that continuously, you’re the one that ends up feeling disappointed. Meanwhile, everyone else is totally oblivious to the fact that you’re over extending and on the brink of being worn out.

You have to learn to set clear boundaries such as not over working yourself to please people and being okay with saying no when you know you don’t have the time or energy.

Knowing when to be open

There is a time to be open and there is a time to be less open.

It’s important to choose wisely.

Being open with people can be a great way to create understanding and build a connection. But it should also be appropriate to the situation. The openness required to create understanding with a romantic partner and a manager are very different.

Plus, the level of openness is also affected by the boundaries in place by others and also ourselves.

If a client asks how you’re weekend was the boundaries you have in place will ensure the openness is fairly restrictive. But if a friend asked you’re more likely to go into significantly greater detail and divulge information that you may not share with anyone else.

These thoughts about openness and boundaries are nothing new or revolutionary but I do think it’s interesting to think about. It gets even more interesting when you observe the way openness decreases and increases as relationships change. Perhaps as a colleague becomes a manager or a friend becomes a romantic partner.

Overstepping boundaries

I wrote about boundaries in a recent post but upon reflection I had more to add.

Sometimes even when you are aware of a persons boundaries and you know it has nothing to do with you, you still try to overstep the mark. A person will do it in small or subtle ways because they are curious whilst also being aware they have to tread carefully.

But when you catch them overstepping in the moment they’re likely to respond by telling you that they didn’t mean it or that they didn’t relaise that it was an issue. perhaps they try to tell you that there is no issue at all.

When it comes to over stepping a boundary it’s really about respect. When you can see a clear boundary you have to decide if it is more important to follow that curiosity or to simply respect what the other person does and doesn’t want

Internalising boundaries

You can learn a lot from someone by simply observing them.

I recently noticed in a particular relationship that the other person had very clear boundaries. It wasn’t anything that had been explicitly stated but through this persons actions it was very clear what they were and were not open to.

Sometimes a persons boundaries can feel personal. You might feel that they’re being harsh and closed off toward you. On the other hand you might internalise it and end up thinking you need to put in more effort.

In the situation I experienced I could have taken it personally, in fact 5 years ago I would have. I’d have thought this means [insert monologue of dramatic over reaction here] and maybe this person doesn’t like me.

But I now understand that a boundary is for the person setting them, it has little to do with the people on the receiving end.