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How To Stop Oversharing: 6 Tips That Actually Work!

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It’s happened to everyone at some point. You meet this interesting new person, but you can’t seem to stop talking about yourself.

The words just seem to pour out of your mouth when you’d otherwise be a fine conversationalist with someone you know. But then, you realize that you’re sharing too much personal information that the other person shouldn’t know yet, or ever know.

Looking back on the conversation, you can see that you overshared even though you weren’t trying to. And, like many people who overshare, you can also see that it ruined the potential for a new friendship to spring up or derailed a current relationship.

What’s wrong with oversharing?

Different kinds of relationships can have different standards as it relates to oversharing. It’s bad to expose too much information to a person you just met. It is uncomfortable because they may not want to share similar information with you. Still, it also communicates that you may not have the best social practices. It can be easy to weird someone out, which will cause them to withdraw from wanting to connect further.

Oversharing harms established friendships and relationships because it may feel like you’re putting too much on the other person to handle. Friends and family members aren’t therapists. They don’t need to know every struggle or problem you’re dealing with. You’d be far better off sharing those things with a therapist or support group. Not only will you lessen the emotional weight in the relationship, but you’ll also be talking to people who can potentially address those issues.

Another concern of oversharing is safety. There are many not-so-good people out there. Oversharing can reveal weaknesses or vulnerabilities that an unkind person may try to exploit. You want to be selective about the information you share to keep yourself safe.

Why do we overshare?

One potential reason why a person may overshare is a lack of emotional resilience to keep an eye on how we talk. People with strong emotional resilience find it easier to be measured in their own emotions and expression. But unfortunately, the pandemic and social problems have caused many people a lot of stress, difficulty, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression. It’s worn people down to the point where our social skills have suffered.

People with different mental illnesses may find themselves oversharing due to impulsiveness. Those that experience strong emotions may find that their emotions are overwhelming their brain or causing their words to spill out of their mouth. Oversharing may be a symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, or ADHD.

It may also be that the oversharing person just hasn’t been heard in a long time. They don’t have anyone to talk to, so they dump their challenges, emotions, and problems onto the listening person. That’s a sure way to make the person feel uncomfortable and withdraw from the situation.

Sometimes a person may feel like they have a sense of intimacy that doesn’t actually exist. For example, Sarah may find that she shares much of her personal life with her hairdresser. The two spend a fair amount of time together as she regularly goes in for touch-ups to keep her hair looking good. The hairdresser is regularly in her personal space, creating subconscious cues that there is a personal closeness, so Sarah overshares. This is also why some people feel comfortable airing their personal business on social media and with strangers.

Some people don’t have a clear idea of how to build friendships or intimacy with others. They may feel that sharing personal things that should come later in the relationship will help them bond faster. This is often a mistaken perception that may be caused by the loneliness of trying to figure out life, trauma, or mental illness. After all, not many people want to sit down and listen to these struggles.

And sometimes, oversharing can be as simple as a person having poor personal boundaries. They may not have the social maturity to understand where the lines should be.

How do you know if you’re oversharing?

Conversations are supposed to be a two-way street. Think of it as a tennis game. You hit the ball to the other player, and that player hits the ball back to you. Conversations happen similarly. You talk a little about what you have to say and then find a way to hit the ball back to the other person. An easy way to do that is by asking a question related to your conversation. For example:

“Man, what a beautiful day we’re having today. I think I might cook out today. Do you have any plans?”

“Sure do. I’m going to go disc golfing with my partner. The weather is perfect for getting out and doing something.”

“That sounds awesome. I’ve heard about disc golf, but I’ve never done it. What do you like about it?”

In this exchange, you can see how both people in the conversation send the ball back and forth over the net to have an equal, socially-friendly conversation.

You may also be able to tell if you are oversharing if the conversation appears one-sided. The other person may respond with short statements like, “Wow.” “That seems really hard.” “Interesting.” repeatedly. They may also shift their focus to another activity like checking their cellphone.

The main thing to look out for is equality in conversation. If it doesn’t appear equal, dial what you share back so the other person can meaningfully contribute.

Oversharing and social media.

Social media is a platform that enables oversharing. This is because the social media environment gives you a free-form way to blast out any thought you might have. Social media companies have literally hired psychologists to exploit the reward and addiction centers of the brain to keep people on their apps, scrolling, and sharing. And, of course, the more time you spend on social media, the more likely you will put that information into the world.

Another negative feature of social media is the drive for competition that it fosters. Your friends and family mostly share a censored view of the highlights of their life. They often share their best and brightest moments, not the monotony of public life and the pains they experience. Some people are just straight-up manipulative about what they share. Maybe they snap a picture of themselves with a friend’s sports car, buy expensive clothes to take pictures in, then return them, or rent out an Airbnb to make themselves seem like they own the property.

The less time you spend on social media, the better off you’ll be. If you are going to use social media to connect to other people, try to stick to support groups and relevant hashtags. However, be aware that these aren’t always healthy, good places. People doing well don’t tend to sit around and talk about how well they’re doing. You’re always getting a biased perspective.

How To Stop Oversharing

There are some techniques and strategies that you can use to curb how much you share with your conversation partners. These tips will help you dial it back to have better conversations and hopefully forge stronger connections.

1. Prepare for the conversation ahead of time.

One way to prevent oversharing is to prepare for the conversation ahead of time by thinking about appropriate subjects. For example, if you’re meeting a new person, you want to be able to have socially-friendly things to discuss. So you can prepare questions to help them talk about themselves and have your own things to share to establish rapport.

Questions you can ask:

“What do you do for a living?”

“Are you passionate about anything?”

“What would you do if money was no object?”

Safe topics you can talk about:

Hobbies, activities you’re involved in, travel, work, and interests.

Asking questions about the other person is never a bad strategy either.

2. Limit your own time to share.

It would be difficult to count seconds in your head when you’re trying to decide how long to share. A better choice is to limit yourself to a brief number of sentences. Two to four sentences are usually enough to acknowledge the other person’s statement and then make another of your own. You may need to practice this if you have problems cutting yourself off. Asking friends or family to practice with can help prep you for talking to new people.

3. Share jokes and positive anecdotes.

The main problem with oversharing is that people don’t often overshare positive things. Instead, they overshare things that are too personal, private, or negative. To avoid that, find some jokes you like or think of positive anecdotes you can share before you get into conversations. Then, it’ll be a good idea to run some of those ideas past more socially adept people to let you know whether or not they’re appropriate. You may find that practicing with a mirror allows you to smooth out the wrinkles before practicing with people.

4. Change the subject to something lighter.

Consider the kind of conversation that you’re having. Is it light and fun, or is it more dark and serious? And is that type of conversation appropriate to the social interaction that you’re having?

Have a couple of prepared lighter subjects that you can pivot to if you find yourself in the depths of a conversation that you shouldn’t be in. You can use some simple phrases like:

“Enough about me. Tell me what you’ve been up to!”

“Oh man, did you see X game the other day?”

“Any big plans coming up?”

“Doing anything this weekend?”

This may seem like an uninteresting question, but remember, you’re trying to change the tone of the conversation so you can get to something different.

5. Learn to be comfortable in silence.

Socially savvy people often use silence to get the other person talking. This is a common tactic that most people use, from mental health professionals to car salespeople. The idea itself is called the “pregnant pause,” that is, there is something contained that they are waiting to expose itself.

Nervous and anxious people often need to fill that silence because it makes them uncomfortable. However, for people that don’t have that problem, silence can be a welcome addition to that time you’re spending together. Sometimes it’s nice to just have a casual conversation where you can sit quietly and enjoy each other’s company.

Take some time to sit in silence with friends, family, or in social situations with others. You may feel grossly uncomfortable and anxious. You may feel the need to fill the silence by talking. Don’t. Force yourself to feel the discomfort and let yourself go through it.

6. Visit a mental health professional.

As previously discussed, oversharing can be a symptom of mental illness. ADHD, for example, heavily impacts a person’s executive function. Executive function governs impulsiveness, self-regulation, and flexible thinking. Unfortunately, that kind of problem isn’t something you can easily circumvent with a few strategies.

You will likely need the help of a certified mental health professional if you have a mental illness that governs impulsive control and affects how you perceive the world. Trauma, Bipolar Disorder, BPD, and ADHD are but a few. There are plenty more. Do seek help if you find that you can’t find a way to change these behaviors.

BetterHelp.com is a website where you can connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.

While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.

Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.

Click here if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.

You’ve already taken the first step just by searching for and reading this article. The worst thing you can do right now is nothing. The best thing is to speak to a therapist. The next best thing is to implement everything you’ve learned in this article by yourself. The choice is yours.

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About The Author

Jack Nollan is a person who has lived with Bipolar Disorder and Bipolar-depression for almost 30 years now. Jack is a mental health writer of 10 years who pairs lived experience with evidence-based information to provide perspective from the side of the mental health consumer. With hands-on experience as the facilitator of a mental health support group, Jack has a firm grasp of the wide range of struggles people face when their mind is not in the healthiest of places. Jack is an activist who is passionate about helping disadvantaged people find a better path.