What would you say if I told you that over-explaining yourself and your decisions or choices could be a hidden control tactic? Before you exit the stage left, let me explain. (pun intended)
If you thought it was a trauma response, hang with me. We will get there. First, let’s talk about what it looks like.
Over-explaining means describing something to an excessive degree. It includes oversharing and disclosing inappropriate information and details about your life or a situation.
Over-Explaining is a Trauma Response
Over-explaining indeed has its beginnings in trauma in many instances. It can develop as a result of gaslighting. Anxiety and ADHD can also lead to over-explaining or people who grew up in a strict home where you had to “justify your choices.” People who felt they needed to be convincing or read the other person’s responses to ensure they absolutely understood where they were coming from and may also over-explain.
Dr. Caroline Leaf explains it this way,
Over-explaining is a common trauma response for those who were often made to feel at fault as a child. At one point, the desire to people-please provided safety. But, please know, what happened is not your fault, and it’s not your job to regulate other people’s emotional states.”
There are many reasons why a person over-explains. But I want to focus on a specific instance of when it happens—when someone has the wrong idea about you or something you chose to do. Have you ever done this? Have you ever felt like you had to explain yourself?
One of the hardest things I’ve been walking through for some time now is learning not to “explain myself.”
For as long as I can remember, I have felt like I had to explain, in detail, why I do what I do, chose what I chose, the decisions I made, or who I am. It’s especially hard when someone has the wrong idea about me, something I did, or has devised their own presumptions (aka rude assumptions) behind a choice I made.
These things are undoubtedly rooted in wounding that became a coping mechanism, a way to protect me and avoid conflict or rejection.
While it’s important to offer some explanation for some occasions, I felt I had to explain ALL the details so they would UNDERSTAND me or my choices completely. How does this connect with control? Keep reading. I’m almost there.
Over-Explaining is a Hidden Control Tactic
See, I wanted to CONTROL THE NARRATIVE about how they saw or thought of me. And I certainly didn’t want them telling others untrue or half-truths about me, even though that’s not in my control.
Ultimately, I wanted to defend myself and justify my decision or action because I didn’t want to be rejected or to protect my reputation. I believed that if I could control the narrative, I could minimize the hurt.
The truth is that people will do and think what they want regardless of you telling them what’s what. But if I could explain everything and make them understand, I could protect myself. THIS is how over-explaining is a control tactic. By over-explaining, it’s me trying to control how it will affect me if they don’t understand my choice or walk away thinking badly of me.
It hurts to know that someone thinks badly or wrongly of you. That’s human. But Psalm 62:5-7 (and many other verses) says to depend on God alone, to put our hope in Him, that He is the one who protects and saves us. He alone is our defender and our shelter. We aren’t to take to defend ourselves. The Lord vindicates us.
I feel like the Lord wants you to know that while your flesh still squirms under the pressure of wanting to be understood and spill all the details so you can have that semblance of being understood, know this, the only thing that needs to be said is what you are released to say. Nothing more. Nothing less. God will work out all the rest.
Find the Root
The root of this behavior needs Jesus to heal it. I’m still walking this out myself. But if this is you, too, repent of the need to control the narrative. Ask the Lord to show you the lie you believe in your heart that you have to explain yourself. Where was that seed planted in your heart? What is the root event it was planted in? Who do you need to forgive and release for writing those lies in your heart? Once Holy Spirit reveals it to you, invite Jesus into that wounded place to speak Truth.
Take time to ask the Lord about the root of your over-explaining. Then pray this prayer.
“Lord, Thank you for showing me the root of my wounding and coping strategy. I repent for partnering with a spirit of control and trying to control how others see me or my choices by over-explaining. I reject the lie that I can protect myself through this trauma response. You are my shield and buckler, the one who covers me. I trust you with my heart.
I choose to forgive and release (insert names) for writing this lie upon my heart.
I reject the lie (insert lie you believed) and choose to believe the truth that you are my protection, and with you, I am safe. You protect me and defend me. Lord, you are my fortress whom I trust. Rewire anything that needs to be rewired in me to align with you. Holy Spirit reparent and teach me healthy ways of coping with life’s hurts.
I invite you, Jesus, to minister to this wounded part of me, to speak the truth, and bring healing that only you can give.”
Take some time and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to that wounded part of you. Then praise and worship Him.
Thank you for reading. If you found this helpful, please share and subscribe to receive new posts in your email. Sincerely, Erica