Many of us are familiar with feeling the need to overexplain—providing excessive details or justification for our thoughts, actions, or decisions.

While it may seem like a harmless habit, overexplaining can indicate deeper issues related to self-esteem, anxiety, and a need for validation.

In this article, we will explore why we feel the need to overexplain, delving into how childhood experiences, particularly strict parenting styles, contribute to this behaviour, and I’ll provide strategies for overcoming it.

To watch the extended YouTube version, which also covers six tools for overcoming overexplaining, click here.


The Roots of Overexplaining

Overexplaining often stems from a combination of psychological, social, and cultural factors. Key among these are:

1.         Insecurity and Self-Doubt

Many individuals overexplain because they doubt their own judgment and feel insecure about their decisions. They fear criticism or rejection and believe that providing excessive details will pre-emptively address any potential questions or concerns.

2.         Need for Approval and Validation

Seeking approval and validation is a natural human tendency, but it can become an overwhelming need for some. Overexplaining is a way to ensure that others understand and approve of their actions and decisions, serving as a form of reassurance.

3.         Anxiety and Perfectionism

People with anxiety and perfectionistic tendencies often feel a compulsion to cover all bases and leave no room for misunderstanding or error. This can lead to overexplaining as they try to control the narrative and prevent any negative outcomes.

4. Fear of Judgment/Not Being Believed

For many, overexplaining comes from a fear of being judged or not believed. ‘What will they think of me?’ ‘They’ll think I’m a bad person.’ ‘They’ll think I’ve let them down’ are common internal narratives.

The Impact of Childhood Experiences

Childhood experiences play a significant role in shaping our behaviours and coping mechanisms. Strict parenting styles, in particular, can contribute to the development of overexplaining tendencies.

1.         Authoritarian Parenting

Children raised in authoritarian households, where strict rules and high expectations are the norm, often develop a heightened sense of scrutiny. These children learn that their actions and decisions are closely monitored and frequently criticised, leading them to feel that they must justify themselves thoroughly to avoid punishment or disapproval.

2.         Lack of Emotional Validation

In some families, children do not receive adequate emotional validation. Their feelings and perspectives might be dismissed or minimised, teaching them that they need to overexplain to be understood and taken seriously. This lack of validation can create a lifelong habit of seeking excessive reassurance from others.

3.         Fear of Punishment

Strict parenting often involves harsh consequences for perceived misbehaviour or mistakes. Children who grow up in such environments may overexplain as a defensive mechanism to avoid punishment. They become accustomed to providing detailed explanations to pre-empt any negative reactions from authority figures.

4.         High Expectations and Perfectionism

Parents with high expectations can inadvertently foster perfectionism in their children. These children learn that anything less than perfect is unacceptable, driving them to overexplain in an attempt to prove their thoroughness and competence.

Personal Reflections and Growth

Overcoming the need to overexplain is a journey that involves self-reflection and personal growth. In the extended YouTube version of this article, I explain six tools for overcoming the need to overexplain – you can watch it here. However, the following are two steps to guide you along the way:

1.         Reflect On Your Childhood

Identify Triggers: Reflect on your childhood experiences and identify any triggers or patterns that may have contributed to your overexplaining behaviour. Understanding the root causes can help you address them more effectively. If this feels too hard, it might be better to go through this process with a coach or therapist who can help and support you with compassion.

Practice self-compassion and forgive yourself for past behaviours. Additionally, consider forgiving those who may have contributed to your insecurities, allowing you to let go of lingering resentments. I have a full video on self-compassion. Click here to watch it.

2.         Embrace Authenticity

Embrace your authentic self and trust that you are enough. Authenticity can reduce the need to overexplain as you become more comfortable with who you are and less concerned with seeking approval from others.

I know that this can be challenging and is easier said than done. Again, working with the right coach or therapist can help you immensely.

Practice expressing your feelings and needs openly and honestly. Authentic communication fosters deeper connections and reduces the compulsion to overexplain.

If this is met with hostility or dismissal, you may wish to take a deeper look at your relationships and the type of people you surround yourself with.

Some people have a vested interest in us staying the same. Beware of those people!

The Wrap-Up

The need to overexplain is a common behaviour rooted in insecurity, anxiety, and childhood experiences.

You can overcome the habit of overexplaining by understanding the underlying causes and implementing strategies to build self-confidence, practice mindfulness, improve communication skills, seek emotional support, set boundaries, and challenge negative thoughts.

Personal growth and self-reflection are key components of this journey. By reflecting on your childhood experiences, embracing authenticity, and forgiving yourself and others, you can foster a healthier relationship with yourself and those around you.

Remember, you are enough just as you are, and you do not need to overexplain to prove your worth or to avoid getting into trouble.

What Next?

As I mentioned earlier, in the extended YouTube version of this article, I also explain six tools for overcoming the need to overexplain. You can watch it here.

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