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If you find yourself overexplaining things to friends and family, you may feel like you are quirky or weird. However, according to neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf, this is actually a sign of childhood trauma.

While childhood trauma most certainly affects us when it is happening to us, it can also follow us into adulthood. In many ways, childhood trauma shapes our behaviors and our relationships for years to come. One way in which this follows us is through the tendency to overexplain. 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.” says Dr. Leaf.

Put simply, overexplaining is when we tend to describe or explain ourselves excessively. You may be wondering how this ties to childhood trauma, and Dr. Leaf has a lot to say about that. She says there are a few reasons why childhood trauma can cause us to overexplain.

1. To keep yourself safe, because you believe that if you say the wrong thing, you may be impacted negatively.

2. If you have been gaslit in the past, you may feel like you need to say more or say things in different ways, so your words don’t get distorted.

3. A need to feel understood.

4. To justify yourself or your decisions.

5. To keep the peace.

6. Because you’ve been made to feel like everything is your fault.

7. Thinking out loud or due to a traumatic brain injury.

If you find that you over explain, Dr. Leaf suggests taking these five steps.

1. Gather

Gather information about your thoughts and behaviors. Do this by recalling a situation where you over explained, and determining what your thoughts were at the moment.

2. Reflect

Contemplate what you wrote down in step 1. Now, reflect on how this affects your life and your relationships.

3. Write

Journal down all of your thoughts to get a better understanding of the root of your trauma.

4. Recheck

Try to see your behaviors from a renewed perspective. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

5. Practice your new way of thinking.

Remember, you cannot change overnight. Celebrate the small victories along the way and let go of the need to please others.

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