Are you over-explaining yourself to try to get approval from others?
I’ve recently come to realize that I don’t owe anyone an explanation for anything that I do, did, or have done. This is ironic to say, since I just started a blog, which so far seems to be an exercise in explaining everything I do, did, or have done.
If you are also an over-explainer like me, you need to stop. It’s not good for you, and it actually sets you back. It set me back for a long time, and now I’ve decided to stop this nasty habit.
Allow me to explain…
I don’t know if I’m a deep person, but I am a deep thinker. I’m never satisfied with answers that say, that’s just how it is, or sometimes people just do things like that. I believe people are much more complex and interesting than that. It also lets all of us off too easy. I’m not okay with that. It’s too cheap to just chalk things up to that’s just how it is. We are all better and worth more than that. I stand by this belief fully, and I’ll never let that one go. It’s important.
Over-explaining is linked to need for approval.
I am definitely someone who wants people to understand me, and I want to truly understand others. I dive deep in to any issue, dissect it, and then come out on the other side with a resolution in my brain. I’m not judgmental and I don’t just write people off. I need to know why they are the way that they are, and that helps me to know about myself too. I’ve always trusted and believed that people can change or they can gain insight in to themselves. I’m an optimist and a Polyanna for sure. I always root for growth and change, whether it’s in myself or in others. I believe everyone has the power, some choose to take advantage of that opportunity, others do not.
Fortunately I have a partner who understands my need for dissection and he has embraced it. I love that about him. It takes me a long time to process things. I’m a slow learner that way, I guess. Or maybe, stated differently, I’m just a deep and analytical thinker. That’s it, I like that better.
People aren’t inherently mean, but that doesn’t mean you or I owe them an explanation. You might be offering yourself up to someone who just doesn’t get it, or get you. It’s not worth it.
I operate from the assumption that people aren’t just mean or bad spirited in this world, and in order for that to be true, I really want to understand why they act the way they act. If it is true that people are inherently mean or bad, then I’m screwed. Because I’ve done a lot of things in life I’m not proud of, and I don’t think it was because I’m a bad person. There are many reasons for my actions, my upbringing, my failures, my emotions, and my humanity getting in the way. We all struggle with those things, and it is not because we are somehow doomed to badness.
That said, I’ve spent a lot of time in these last 46 years, trying to make people understand me by offering up way too much of myself to people who don’t get it. I’ve thought that by offering an explanation in to my life, they might gain insight in to their life and understand how they operate. I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t always work that way. Hard lessons learned. Good lessons, but difficult ones. Don’t follow in my footsteps please.
This pattern has led to over-explaining myself, and it’s very much linked to the need for approval. I want people to understand me because I want them to approve of me. I already got rid of that bitch Approval but she still tries to come back sometimes. I’m done with her for good. Bye.
Over-explanation is unnecessary to how I actually live out my days. It changes nothing about the decisions I make, so why do it in the first place?
I recently realized that over-explaining really isn’t necessary either because it doesn’t change how I’m going to live my life. The way that I carry myself and the message that I choose to offer the world is for me to decide, not others. If people have questions, they can ask. The ironic thing is, that many of the things I would be afraid someone would ask me simply would never be asked. It’s simply enough to live my life, engage in my world, and honor the relationships I have. If someone has questions about a decision I make, or what I think, they can ask me.
I should get a button that says Ask me! Never mind, that would be Approval seeking again, trying to engage people to ask so I can over-explain. Oh I hate that bitch.
Give others responsibility in relationship too, they can ask you if they want something explained.
Whether it’s work, my family, a friend, or a stranger, it’s up to them to check in, it’s not all up to me. Otherwise, I don’t have to offer myself up to people just for the sake of being understood or approved of. If someone chooses not to ask, and judge instead, that’s perfectly okay with me. Judge away. It eats up their brain space, not mine.
That said, this is all different than vulnerability, which is a topic for another day, for certain. I suck at that too, just so you know, but I’m learning.
So this is my manifesto on over-explaining. If you want to know something, ask! I’m an open book and I’ll tell you, but I’m not spending time explaining my actions to anyone because I think you deserve it, or it’ll help you understand me more. I’ve also come to realize that it might not help me understand you either, and that I need to let that go. Sometimes it has to be enough just to walk away and know that we all have our personal responsibilities in this life, and that things won’t always work out the way I think, or you think, they should.
If you give up trying to make people understand you, individuals will come in to your life that do get it. That’s what you really want anyway. You shouldn’t have to convince anyone of your worth or your reason for being. Just be.
There you go, that’s my explanation on over-explanation. You’re welcome.