HELP! I CAN’T STOP RUNNING MY MOUTH BUT I WANT TO STOP OVERSHARING: HOW TO PROTECT YOUR OWN PRIVACY

Updated: Sep 11


Oversharing By Running Your Mouth About Personal Matters Is Like A 24-Hour You-Will-Pay Phone

“I’ve found that oversharing is also a trauma response. I used to over share so badly, I’d be internally telling myself to shut up AS I WAS oversharing.”

Natasha Adamo


I always had so much shame about oversharing, and to some degree, still do. Like a daytime television program in Real Time before a live “studio” audience, oversharing is one of the cheapest, unclassy, most cringe things ever; and often, the eyes and ears *eager* for the next installment are often exactly the kind of cheap, unclassy, cringey people least worthy of knowing your business (and least wise of you to share with). The audience internally groaning and inwardly rolling their eyes (or actively avoiding) are repelled, exhausted, and beyond frustrated by that same next installment because they avoid this drama in their own personal lives for a reason.


I never had a big quantity of people to broadcast my amateur hour soap operas and “The How Bad Can I Make Myself Look Show” to, but the *quality* of people I couldn’t stop oversharing to couldn’t have been a worse—or more embarrassing—or nonsensical choice: my narcissistic, sabotaging, controlling parent; my ex-‘s parent (?!); the 5 former classmates on my Facebook...even the subject themself (who I couldn’t complain, explain, or dredge up the past enough about…creating further cycles of escalation and abuse).


Like Natasha, to even the most un-self-aware among us (me) a tiny ray of common sense would filter through, and I would indeed be pleading internally with my couldn’t-wouldn’t-stop mouth to SHUT UP and hands to STOP POSTING...watched my various pathologically, compulsively communicating body torch my reputation, don the relationship clown suit, and pay for a self-sabotaging smear campaign series of self-posted billboards that I certainly couldn’t (emotionally and relationally) afford.


There is a difference between sharing and oversharing. Sharing feels wholesome. There is an element of quiet, pure joy. Oversharing leaves you feeling like you raped your own soul and now you just want to crawl into the ground and not come back. You settle for a shower, some ice cream, and repeating the vicious oversharing cycle.


“Keeping your relationship private should never feel like you are depriving yourself of part of the joy of being in a relationship. You should, however, make sure that your definition of relational joy is more about your relationship and less about pleasing/triggering/wow-ing other people. If it’s even slightly more external, you will be robbing your relationship of the very intimacy that you complain about (and question your worth over) an absence of.


Outside validation used to dictate the success of my relationships. Keeping my relationship private was out of the question. I would prioritize the opinions of friends and family over my mental and relational health.”Natasha Adamo


If you are reading this, you are painfully aware of the harvest of havoc and self-hate that oversharing has filled an otherwise-empty self-worth pantry with. If you want some great positive motivation on WHY you should keep your private life private, Natasha Adamo has an incredible blog post here: https://natashaadamo.com/keep-your-relationship-private/

It can all be summarized perfectly in my favorite quote from the article:


“Bottom line: the less you share, the less bullsh*t you deal with.” —Natasha Adamo


And who doesn’t need LESS bullshit?!


So how do we stop when we JUST.CAN’T.STOP.OVERSHARING?


It all starts, as is usually the case, with AWARENESS. Oversharing is a game that we play. Whether we have "mere" psychological triangulation going on, or a dodecahedron web spanning multiple continents...the reason why we compulsively (and regrettably) spew every unnecessary detail is often out of our range of awareness.


We’re too busy swept up in the self-sabotage cycle of starting drama, sharing the drama, creating even more drama, inevitable abandonment, red-faced regret, and acting out of the pain of rejection, causing MORE DRAMA and MORE REGRET...that we get so busy just trying to cope with putting out the fires that we never seem to have time, or energy, to hit the emergency shut-off valve of the fuel supply behind it all.


What Fuels Our Trauma-Based Oversharing? WHY Do We Trauma Overshare?


* Need for an alliance.


When you lack object constancy and whole object relations (understanding that things are a mix of positives and negatives, not solely one extreme or the other), every spat and slight (real or imagined) becomes a calamity.


The “Love of your Life” has become a sworn enemy in a battle to the relational death. You are terribly, terribly alone. You don’t know how to pick your battles (you’ve created your own answer to that one: “All of the Above”), but you also don’t know how to fight your own battles. Infantilized well past infancy, you only know how to rope someone else in and hide behind their skirts, hoping they can do what is impossible: change someone else—for you.


When you feel like you’ve lost your only friend (of the moment), you become beyond desperate for a new one—one that will take over the job of self-soothing you because you have no idea how to.


It’s hard to think back on the many, many times I did this; running to tell all the wrong people every angry word, door slam, and petty nonsense that JUST HAPPENED...only to dash back to the first person as soon as the winds shifted and I had something against my new-now-former ally.


It was a rotating door of unstable reactions spinning faster than the eye could follow from a whirlwind of emotions I didn’t know how to manage. There was a lot of accidentally-on-purpose collateral damage to people I really do love and care about.


It took a while to finally be able to STOP (long after I knew I wanted to stop, long after I knew this was not good and NEVER would be good for anyone involved). I also left myself very vulnerable to the suggestions and scorn of people who did not have my best interests at heart.


Eventually I realized that quite contrary to having the allies I needed, I had many more sabotaging, excuse-making, or wounded (by my tell-taling) NOT-allies.


* Need for an audience.


Drama is what we know: Home is where the...drama is. Like an eating disorder, it’s comforting in its discomfort; we feel pseudo-control while we spiral out of control. Everyone can see it (and rewards us with the attention we crave like we “crave” air), but at the same time, they shake their heads and look down on us.


All of this happens while we delude ourselves that “It isn’t that bad...I need a 'support system'…[insert excuse here].” There is a monumental difference between a trusted, proven, constructive confidante who has no conflict of interest to vent to or ask advice from...


And a public square to pillory your reputation and your sanity.


It feels good to have an audience...until they turn on you, and then it doesn’t. But then you get to be a victim and a martyr! It’s all fun and games until you are sick and tired of being humiliated and STILL alone, and your life feels ruined wherever you turn.


* Need for understanding.


If we were raised to feel alone, embarrassed, ashamed, wrong, and small, oftentimes we spend most of our human interactions gasping for one molecule of validation that we *aren’t* crazy, *aren’t* unacceptable, *aren’t* unlovable, and *aren’t* worthy of being unrelentingly misjudged. It feels as though we are, as Leonard Cohen sang in “Suzanne”, “leaning out for love, and [we] will lean that way forever.”


We just want to be heard and *finally* understood, as we have never been, from SOMEWHERE, ANYWHERE.


* Need for validation.


Similar to the need for understanding, if we have always been excoriated, belittled, and had to fight for the right to be heard (and still not be taken seriously), we can be an absolute addict to the need to hear that we are right; that we really won the fight/argument/relationship (even if we obviously did nothing but drive a decent person away by being overbearing, intolerant, impossible, and self-absorbed). That somehow we didn’t really FAIL.


We are afraid of being vulnerable and giving to others what we were denied ourselves: being heard, understood, acceptable, taken seriously, and enough.


We don’t understand why a reparative gesture isn’t as good (or better than) an outright apology (which we are too ashamed and afraid to make).


We don’t understand why we would be required to give praise and interest that our insecurities can not spare for other people (since we can’t authentically give that to ourselves).


Then...after the inevitable blow up and/or abandonment...we need an outside source to invalidate with false validation the truth we know deep down inside: we were negligent and culpable. We are responsible for relationship failure. We survive by demonizing our ex- (romantic, friend, family, any relationship), but knowing what we know (the truth), it just isn’t enough; we need others to demonize with us. "Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth"...right?


There is another downside to needing an audience and validation that I have noticed, which Gala Darling explains perfectly in her blog post: Zip It! An Experiment In The Power Of Keeping A Secret

"Have you ever noticed that when you tell people about something exciting that is still up in the air, it feels like the energy gets sucked out of it? The project starts to slow down; people are less prompt with replying to emails. What had previously seemed full-steam-ahead suddenly goes quiet. What the hell is up with that?!


This is exactly the subject my friend Jasmine raised at breakfast yesterday. We had been talking about our work and all the fun things we had bubbling away on our respective stoves. There was a brief pause, and then she looked at me and asked, 'When something exciting is happening for you, do you tell people about it, or do you keep it to yourself?'


'Well, it depends on whether it’s still in process or if it’s signed, sealed, and delivered,' I said. 'I sometimes find that when I tell people about things that haven’t been finalized, it’s almost like the energy comes to a standstill. The momentum just stops.'


'That’s exactly what I’m finding!' she replied.


'Why IS that?!' I exclaimed. 'Do you think it’s something to do with having so many other people’s energy involved in the project? I’m not sure, but sometimes I think that when other people get their energetic hooks into an idea, it transforms, and not necessarily for the best.'


I gave the example of a project that had been floating around for a while, which had been progressing nicely… Until I mentioned to a couple of friends and to my parents. One friend responded in a way that made me feel like she was a little bit jealous, and since I mentioned it to my parents, every time I speak to them, they ask if I have an update. Of course, I don’t. Don’t they know that as soon as I hear something, I’ll tell them?!


'This is really interesting'” Jasmine said. 'There is definitely something to this. It’s so hard too, because I love to share what’s going on! I almost can’t help myself!'


'Totally!' I replied. 'The urge to share is so massive because you feel so excited. Really though, when you tell your friend something you’re excited about, what you want is for them to be equally excited. You want them to mirror your delight back at you, but very rarely are they able to do that. People have their own stuff going on, their own agendas, and a lot of people, despite their best intentions, feel jealousy.'"


I absolutely love Gala and Jasmine's challenge that goes with this observation (because, I mean, if it's not actionable and practical, what's the point?!):


"Want to join us in our Zip It! experiment? It’s easy. The steps are…

1. Keep things to yourself! If an exciting offer or project comes your way, despite your overwhelming urge to tell someone, resist!

2. Keep a journal which contains all the details of the project at hand. Don’t be afraid to get really hyperbolic with your enthusiasm if that’s what feels good to you. Go hard! No one is going to read this except you, so feel free to be your most ebullient self.

3. “Break the news” to yourself in the mirror, and then, respond exactly the way you’ve always wished someone would. Ooooh, it will feel so good! Give yourself a goofy grin. High-five the mirror! Do whatever feels awesome in the moment.

4. Repeat."


* Habit.


Breaking any habit is hard and takes time, consistency, and re-inforcement. But oversharing CAN become a thing of the past.


* Infantilization.


We were taught to not only expect failure but to be ashamed for even trying.


We were taught to never rely on our own judgement.


Demanding appropriate boundaries and privacy be respected only resulted in fearsome punishment.


We have been so conditioned from birth that at the sound of the voice of our "betters", we MUST spill our guts. We morph into a psychological Pavlovian dog that can’t keep the drool of things best kept to oneself from dripping off our lips, not realizing we even have the option of NOT confessing to trying and failing (and waiting for our ritual humiliation and punishment).


To us, privacy is a myth, a gift from the fairy godmothers to other people at birth, but never for us. We.can’t.not.share. If we don’t, and we’re discovered "keeping secrets", regardless of our biological age we will still be punished, and love and help will be withheld from us, by those who “love” us.


We know. We tried once. It wasn't pretty.


* Movie Magic/Fairy Dust/Ballast.


This is a different form of audience-seeking, but we want the thrill of seeming competent, of this FINALLY being THE ONE.


We want to show how everything is picture-perfect. If it is just picture-perfect enough, then *we* will be enough. Then, it will be stable, and lasting, and we will FINALLY have showed all the haters, and all our loved ones, that we did it.


We want the world to legitimize and hold-together something as shaky as our belief in ourselves, our partner, and the relationship. We want this to be IT so bad that maybe, perhaps, we can make it so through sheer earnestness and a whole new (actually very old and cliche) kind of trick photography:


--Never let an intimate moment go to waste

--Special effects (all those gratuitously filtered nights at the bar, vacations, gifts, gushing, and so on that were quite ordinary, but we hype and hype and hype)

--Nausea-inducing relationship-quotes posting


Like the rules for flying with fairy dust (sprinkle it on you and think happy thoughts), we hope that the void we know that our relationSHIP contains—you know, SUBSTANCE like honesty, loyalty, maturity, stability, communication, accountability—can be filled by the “ballast” of our obligation to the image we created, plus the validation from the envy and/or good vibes of all who gaze upon that image.


We can do this WHILE knowing it’s all smoke and mirrors, but the pain of ending the illusion, or the ignorance of how to change the trick into something real, is so much harder than doing what we’ve always done and are so well-versed in.


You can feel the relevance of “Methinks thou dost protest (and quote post and photo post and gush and spend money excessively for show) too much”, to borrow a phrase from the stage.


The problem with too much of anything is that it becomes cheap.


Scarcity creates more value than excess ever could. But if you feel a keen lack and try to overcompensate with almost spam-like quantities of what (if we’re honest) is really an ad campaign for what you desperately hope is the fictional “Happily Ever After”...you’ll fool no one (and eventually annoy most people because fake always eventually becomes obvious...and who likes being faked out?).


* Something to prove.


Sometimes, when we’ve been suppressed for a long time but manage to break free, instead of feeling like we can’t help but share (because we were trained to believe that we have no privacy to respect), we snap. We know we don’t have to, but we choose to do it anyways.


We’re so free...that we can choose bondage. We WANT these people to know that we not only beat their system and opened the cage, but we are enjoying all the once-forbidden fruits. We rub our so-called rebellion (what non-infantilizing non-control freaks call "individuation") in the faces of abusers that really only deserve to meet with a blank wall from us.


Newsflash: They are storing everything you say in a bulging C.I.A.-style dossier to use against you later at their convenience and your inconvenience. As satisfying as it may be to fantasize about, resist the burning desire to give ammunition (a piece of your mind, life, and/or history) to the very people who deserve to know absolutely none of it. More satisfying? Give them the mushroom treatment (keep them in the dark and feed them lots of sh*t) and watch them go besides themselves trying to figure out the “mystery”. Power move right there.


* Loss of inhibitions, lack of self-care.


We are pushed to our breaking point. Or we are so drunk/high/sleep-deprived that our better judgement, that we need now more than ever, has taken our keys and driven away.


Without our inhibitions (who seem to have eloped with our better judgment, to some far away, happy land) to lean against our barely-closed closet full of skeletons...we explode in a seemingly endless supply of gossip-material, in the blink of an eye. Undealt with issues surge forth in an Armageddon-style reckoning and rage. When Better Judgement and Inhibitions get back from their honeymoon, oh boy are they going to be left picking up the pieces!


* Need for revenge and power plays.


We think we’ll hurt and control the other person—and maybe, for a time, we do. But ah, is this a cheap and predictable tactic. It’s so lame and transparent that the reputation-ruining perpe-TRAITOR is an real-life psycho-break-up meme spectacle. An overplayed hack trope.


We also ruin any trust others may have in us. We become a blackmailer, a bad-mouther, a capricious and calculating crazy, leaking desperation like a busted sewer pipe.


No one will feel safe from being turned on by such a person. And why should they? If you can’t even respect your own privacy (and the privacy of loved ones or once-loved ones) you certainly won’t respect anyone else’s. But sometimes we are so very, very lost and desperate that we just can’t seem to stop ourselves, even KNOWING it hurts and costs us more than them.


* Ignorance.


Sometimes, depending on how we were raised and how well we were socialized, we really and truly don’t understand what is socially acceptable to share, and what should stay just between those involved.


In this case, less is more. When in doubt, don’t shout it out.


It doesn’t always help to observe and do what other people are doing, because sometimes other people are oversharers too. Although, that usually becomes obvious by the reactions of others in the room as soon as the oversharer leaves (*cringe*).


A good communication coach like Daniel Wendler or Dan O'Connor or Introverted Alpha can help you learn and answer your questions on what is appropriate and what isn’t and how to respond to others with communication training.


* We are uncomfortable with silence/something to talk about.


We compulsively fill unsafe and accusatory-feeling audio space with too much information because we aren’t used to just being. Or we feel like we must compulsively explain ourselves.


No, you don’t owe everyone an explanation. Let it be.


* Want to be free.


Our traumas can feel like physical, tangible *things* inside of us that we want to *physically* remove or somehow release. Even though we consciously know that isn't true, that doesn’t seem to change the realness of the feeling. Oversharing is our attempt to “get it out”, “wash it off”, or otherwise set us free...even though what really ends up happening, Alien-style, is that by spreading it around... we replicate it, make more of it, in more places, and it just returns to haunt us en mass later because now we’ve made it awkward with other people we’ll likely have to see again (cutting our self-esteem even more).


Like any jail break, the temporary high is replaced by more locked doors, heavier bars, louder alarms, and feeling much, much worse for even longer.


What other reasons does a thorough and honest soul-search return for you? Leave a comment, you may help someone else!


SO HOW DO YOU STOP TALKING TOO MUCH, STOP OVERSHARING, STOP THE GOSSIP, AND STOP RUNNING YOUR MOUTH SO YOU CAN KEEP YOUR PRIVACY?


The more you realize about what triggers your NEED to overshare, the more you can disarm those triggers and get your needs met in other (healthier! Less bullsh*t!) ways. You can become your relationships’ (present and future) biggest advocate with your golden silence and selective sharing, instead of with a one-man rumor-mill brass band.


Start to remember the consequences before you act. Let them sink in a bit and set a new intention before you engage in any interaction. It can be that simple.


I'll leave you with this powerful manifesto:


“We started dating and for once, I was too busy enjoying myself and our relationship to even think about keeping everyone updated on every little detail. I love him more than I’ll ever be able to express, so I stopped trying to. I just let my happiness and interest in other people (instead of feeling like I have to go on and on about myself) do the talking.


I share so much here on the blog about my life, my past, my trauma, insecurities, fears, failures, and experiences. But as far as my current love life goes… it’s the one thing that I hold the closest to my heart and keep more private than anything else.


This doesn’t mean that I’ll never post a photo with him, never share anything about my relationship with you guys or that I deny I’m in a relationship when asked. It doesn’t mean that I don’t share anything with anyone. Just like there is a difference between confidence and cockiness, there is a big difference between being private and being secretive.” —Natasha Adamo


I know you will be smarter about what you share. The self-betrayal ends today. Time to LIVE (and share) on your own terms.

All My Love,


Ranyoi


P.S. If you are ever in need to talk to someone, 7cups.com has incredibly kind, anonymous, free volunteers, any time, day or night, any day of the year. They saved my life more than once when I had no one and no money. Also saved my dignity and sanity: Natasha Adamo and the incredible Doctor Elinor Greenberg, who specializes in personality adaptations.

I'm also available as a coach.



Image Source: Photo by Mark Pan4ratte on Unsplash

https://unsplash.com/photos/UDLljVBRldc


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