Thanks to social media, the boundary between public and private information is blurred.
Sharing your confidential information and problems has become more socially acceptable.
Almost everyone has overshared at a point in their lives.
But oversharing is more than just being friendly.
It is an attempt to reach out to others, looking for a sympathetic ear or words of advice.
Rather than making friends, oversharing can negatively affect our reputations and relationships.
To manage chronic oversharing, you must first understand what it is and why you overshare so that it does not wreak havoc in your life.
What Is Oversharing?
At its simplest, oversharing is disclosing an inappropriate amount or detail about one’s personal life to establish a bond or intimacy.
What is considered oversharing is often based on several factors.
- If you come from a family of oversharers, discussing the inner workings of your family life may be a learned behavior and a bad habit.
- Oversharing may signal isolation due to various factors, and one can resolve it by finding more time to socialize.
- The relationship stage determines whether or not your conversation classifies as oversharing. For instance, telling your spouse intimate details about your life will not be oversharing. But share those details with your barista, and it would be.
Because of the complexity of society and social media, it may be hard to know when to share and stay silent.
However, there are a few definite signs of oversharing, including:
- Telling intimate details to a new acquaintance.
- Sharing confidential information 24/7 or on social media.
- Not listening to others’ opinions.
If you notice, many of your conversations may include inappropriate information or intimate details.
You might have a habit of revealing too much information.
The next step is to discover if there’s a reason that you overshare.
Why Do I Keep Oversharing?
The reasons why people overshare vary, but we all do it. According to ScienceDaily, researchers found that the risk of oversharing in conversation increases as people age.
Sometimes, we need to vent and talk about a problematic situation to relieve tension. But it is hard to walk the line between being authentic, venting, and oversharing.
Venting is very different from oversharing. It is usually situational. But there’s a reason you overshare. It is often triggered and can be linked to more severe consequences.
According to a 2015 Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology study, stress directly affects self-control.
Significant stressors diminish self-control, resulting in the possibility of oversharing.
These stressors can include:
- Grief, pain, or illness
- Accidents or significant events
- Professional setbacks
- Relationship issues
Also known as ego depletion, in this state, mental resources that usually regulate behavior are depleted by chronic stress or trauma, leaving you with less willpower or ability to control your thoughts or actions.
How to Stop Oversharing: 17 Actions You Can Take for Change
Sharing stress, anxiety, and worries with others can help process complicated feelings. However, there are limits.
If you feel that you constantly overstep, it might be time to start limiting what you say and to whom. It may take a while, but here are a few suggestions to help you learn how to not overshare.
1. Limit Talking Time
One of the ways to curb oversharing is to self-limit your talking time. Only talk for a few minutes, then ask a question and listen attentively to the answer.
If you have ranted or even told an anecdote for more than five minutes, chances are that you are monopolizing the conversation.
2. Think Before Speaking
Before you tell everything, ask yourself if you want to see the information in print. If the answer is no, it may not be appropriate for polite conversation.
However, this is where the level of intimacy in a relationship affects the details of the conversation.
Another way is to count to ten after someone asks you a question or before you speak. It will allow you time to gather your thoughts and filter out the details that should be kept confidential.
3. Respect Boundaries
Oversharing may be conscious or unconscious. Oversharers may not have the ability to sense a person’s boundaries. In some families, oversharing is the normal state.
Or someone may feel the need to share everything or shockingly intimate things to ensure they are heard.
4. Don’t Brag
For those that overshare, there is a thin line between seeming accomplished and bragging. Knowing when to share may be difficult, especially if you have done and seen some impressive things.
In these cases, self-awareness helps avoid oversharing in a braggadocious manner. While some people may be interested, not everyone needs to know you climbed Mt. Everest or play PGA-level golf.
5. Learn to be Silent
Silence allows us to pick up on non-verbal clues about the people around us. It allows us to be present and mindful of our environment.
Silence is a difficult skill to master for most people, whether or not they overshare. Individuals who tend to overshare often find it impossible to sit quietly or stay silent.
While it may just be a habit, the inability to tolerate silence may indicate a deeper psychological or personality issue such as ADHA or an anxiety disorder.
6. Balance the Conversation
Conversations are not monologues. When conversing with others, make a conscious effort not to be the only person speaking.
Just like minimizing your time talking, ensure that you do not dominate the conversation by actively drawing others into the discussion. Ask and answer questions in a give-and-take process.
7. Be Articulate
Oversharers babble. Verbal chatter is a result of unorganized thoughts and inefficient words. This verbal ineffectiveness leads to unnecessary detail or extended conversations.
One way to address oversharing is to practice explaining ideas or telling a story. Learn new words that help convey meaning.
Try journaling your thoughts and reading out loud what you have written down.
Improving your conversation skills may take time. But general conversation skills will improve, reducing the need to share unnecessary detail.
8. Learn to Listen
Practice active listening. Active listening improves mutual understanding whether you are in a general conversation or a stressful situation.
Active listening includes paying attention, giving your undivided attention, and providing feedback as a mindful comment or question.
Also, watch their body language for emotional cues. These things can help you be a better listener and stop oversharing.
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9. Be Self-Aware
Self-awareness allows you to recognize when you have crossed a boundary and help stop oversharing.
Evaluate what you are saying and if it is relevant to the conversation. This mental process will help you communicate better and reduce the tendency to overshare.
Mindfulness is not easy, but understanding the need for self-awareness is a big first step to learning how not to overshare.
10. Avoid Seeking Sympathy
Oversharers may seek attention, sympathy, or want to play the victim. These are indicators of emotional neediness or co-dependency, which are underlying mental issues best handled by professional care.
If you are concerned about oversharing a recent trauma or a stressful event, provide the details without sounding pitiful.
Most people are compassionate and will show sympathy.
11. Stop Seeking Attention
Attention seekers tend to overshare. And your tendency to self-disclose detailed information may be interpreted as attention seeking regardless of the reason.
Instead of oversharing, work on your socialization skills. Learn to communicate and meet new people without needing complete attention or validation from everyone you encounter.
Another way people overshare is by saying things that are not relevant to the discussion.
If it is unnecessary or if something doesn’t add value to your story. Always go straight to the point and do not waste time saying irrelevant things.
It is not easy to stop bringing up random things. Irrelevant comments often stem from social anxiety, so working on the root cause is essential to correct this oversharing issue.
13. Don’t Gossip
Many people tend to resort to gossiping to have something to say to the group. You may capture some people’s attention for a few minutes, but oversharing about others may negatively affect your reputation.
Oversharing or gossiping at work can harm your working relationships or even your professional career within the workplace.
14. Share Relatable Things
One of the main reasons we share is to define ourselves to those around us and get them to see us in a positive light.
But if you constantly share things that people can not relate to, this may affect how people react.
Understanding those around you and their backgrounds or achievements will go a long way to forming a solid bond and diminishing the likelihood of oversharing.
15. Consider Therapy
If you have attempted to control yourself, limiting what you say or disclose in public has not worked.
Then ask yourself what oversharing is a sign of and do you need therapy.
If your answers include trauma or deeper personal issues, it may be time to speak with a professional.
16. Improve Social Skills
Many who are socially inept, shy, or uncomfortable in crowds may overshare to overcompensate. Oversharing is also a sign of feelings of insecurity and vulnerability.
One way to decrease insecurity is to improve your social and conversational skills and polish your manners. Learn how to dress for any occasion.
List a few things to chat about that are not too controversial and other ways to fit into your social settings.
17. Stay Calm
Be a good listener. Try to be relaxed and calm when interacting or speaking to others, even if you suffer from social anxiety.
Be a good host. Offering someone a drink or helping them with their seat will keep you busy, increase positive interactions, and reduce the opportunities for oversharing.
Is There a Disorder of Oversharing?
While some may want to name the act of oversharing a “syndrome,” one cannot be diagnosed with oversharing.
No single syndrome, disorder, or disease is responsible for our inability to be silent.
Instead, oversharing is a symptom. Sometimes it signals a bad habit.
Sometimes self-disclosure is a symptom of overwhelming, chronic stress or grief. Oversharing is also connected with age.
According to ScienceDaily, researchers from two universities found that oversharing in conversation increases as people age.
However, it remains unclear whether that is due to age or a combination of other factors, such as stress or loneliness.
But what is oversharing a sign of?
At its most profound, oversharing is self-absorption masked as vulnerability and may signify underlying psychological issues.
Some disorders that may include oversharing include borderline personality disorder, anxiety, or co-dependency.
Anxiety causes oversharing. Being around people may cause a feeling of apprehension and cause you to ramble about yourself.
This overzealous chatter is an attempt to connect with someone, thus removing the social pressure of meeting new people.
Codependent people tend to get too close, too fast. They may be emotionally needy or lack boundaries. They also overshare to create the semblance of intimacy — supporting accelerated commitments.
People overshare for many reasons, but there is never one all-encompassing “oversharing disease.”
Is Oversharing a Trauma Response?
Oversharing can be a coping mechanism.
When faced with chronic, overwhelming stress or severe trauma, our brain deals either by shutting down shock or losing self-control if there are no other types of healthy coping mechanisms in a person’s wheelhouse.
Healthy coping mechanisms positively process our stress, nurturing self-esteem and including exercise and mindful meditation.
Trauma-based oversharing is a form of unhealthy coping practice and is often seen on social media, where individuals can play the victim or garner immediate support.
In addition to the verbal response to trauma, there are several physiological responses, including changes in blood glucose and hormone levels, similar to the flight or fight physiological response.
So much of what defines oversharing or healthy self-disclosure lies with the listener. However, oversharing is widely considered a negative trait and socially unacceptable.
At first, it may be challenging, but learning self-awareness and control to combat oversharing can be the beginning of a healthier, more positive life.