I am confident and articulate.
This affirmation accompanied me on a postcard when I spoke in public for years as a Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway teacher. These words remind me when my doubtful thoughts begin.
I receive a daily digest of articles from Medium.com, a storytelling platform by real people, sort of like a You-Tube in print. A recent article reminded me about my journey finding my voice. The article is entitled, “I Overexplain Today Because I Was Gaslit as a Child.”
The author, Brian Ball, summarizes his relationship in his dysfunctional home with his alcoholic mother often questioning his idea of what normal is, second-guessing his reactions and ignoring his inner alarms.
Medical News Today defines gaslighting as “a form of psychological abuse where a person or group makes someone question their sanity, perception of reality, or memories.”
“Overexplaining is often a response to some kind of trauma. In my case, it was being raised in an alcoholic home, but also because of some of my relationships later in life. I became overly conscious my words might be used against me, so I would try to over-explain to compensate.” - Brian Ball
This article stirred up memories. Often as a child my emotional needs were discarded or ignored. When I didn’t feel well, I wasn’t believed. To this day when I don’t feel well and need to explain what I’m feeling, it’s a major trigger. I scramble, sweat and struggle for words, the perfect words that explain what’s going on. My little girl thinks I have one chance to explain and then the moment is gone and I’m shoved back into silence, alone and abandoned.
My thoughts speed up, an internal tornado of emotion roils inside and I can’t think straight. I went through a period of time when I overshared more than I needed to which put me in a more vulnerable position. I’d walk right into situations where I was made fun of by people who knew my secrets.
This article, though stirring, brought up a comforting image. I imagined me as the adult mom, bending down to my child’s level and listening, taking the time to appreciate what I was sharing because when I feel heard, I’m less likely to feel the internal tornado of feelings.
Brian Ball continues on by listing tips he found helpful:
“Practice, so you can be as precise as possible. The least amount of words, the better.”
“Remember that “no” is a complete sentence.”
“If you start overthinking something, ask yourself, “How important is this?””
“Remind yourself that you can't change how people think and feel about you. The only thing that matters is how you think and feel about yourself.”
I’m reminded again and again the wisdom that dwells inside us humans when we are honest and respectful to ourselves. We are a wealth of experience. We can reparent ourselves. We validate our inside experiences. We move forward in our lives honoring our hurts soothing them into healing. Silence affords us the platform to begin and continue on this journey.
I feel validated by Brian Ball’s article. As I reflect from present day, my time in silence allows me to hear what I have to say. I honor my thoughts and feelings. I sort out my truths. I believe me. I demonstrate to my inner child I am worth it. I count in this world. I am seen and I am loved.
I want to thank you. I realize when you share your struggle, I wonder why I have such high expectations for myself to not struggle. I am grateful to know you struggle because it gives me hope in my struggle.
That’s quite an article you found. My parent talked all the time and it made me go the opposite direction. I’m so afraid of talking too much and it’s been a life process to learn it’s okay for me to speak, that I’m not boring people and I’m not over sharing and over talking. I’m so aware of speaking and how people speak. I have this little internal monitor that gages when people start speaking too much, my whole body starts shaking. I don’t know what too much means. It’s arbitrary. I really work at not being in a judgmental place and be in acceptance. It’s a journey I’ve been on. Thank you.
I really liked that amazing sentence, “No is a complete sentence.” It really resonates. It’s such a self-affirmation and a mark of clarity within. I felt it was a very positive thing. I must say, when I write poetry, it’s a paring-away process for me, almost as if I want to find a poem that’s like a telegram succinctly saying what is going on, however directly or indirectly, without being too wordy. Thank you.
What came up for me is about explaining which is usually a thinking process. Reflections from this group come from the heart. When heartfelt thoughts are expressed, usually the essence is shared, and sometimes it’s like I’m hearing it for the first time and I’m processing it as it’s coming out, clarifying and discerning as I go. It’s not the same as explaining. Discerning and explaining are different. I think explaining is for somebody else and heartfelt expressions are from listening to ourselves so we can know more what’s coming from within. If it helps someone else, that’s great. It’s the icing on the cake.
I really related to what you shared. In thinking about my father, he was powerless as a young kid. He had to be an adult early on and work for the family to provide food and necessities. When I picture him, I think he really enjoyed the control that he had over us because he never had it. I’m also thinking about the class on stoicism I’m taking. We read an article discussing the good attributes of stoicism I can apply in my life. I disagreed with the author in his statement that most people pay more attention to the externals in their life. I think of an author as an expert, but we are the experts in our own lives. I had a kneejerk reaction to his statement. I thought, yes, that’s who I used to be, but it’s not who I am now. I do pay more attention to the internals. I think that’s the attraction of this group. We pay more attention to the internals.
This reading and everything that has been shared is speaking to my heart in the most profound way. I could go on and on in different directions in how this has affected me. This internal vs external—I feel like I’m in this liminal space between having lived my life according to what’s happening externally and what people are saying. I’m in this place of focusing on my internal reactions and how I interpret things. It’s a difficult place to be. I feel like I’m neither here nor there. My mother did not know how to be quiet and needed to be the center of attention anywhere she was. I also went the other way trying to make myself invisible. I’m so worried someone’s going to see me. I watched my mother as a kid, sometimes it was embarrassing and it was uncomfortable. I’ve spent so many years trying to hide. I’m at this point where I can’t do that anymore. I appreciate finding you all. It’s been so uplifting and has given me so much strength. I am very appreciative.
As you said the word ‘overexplaining,’ I knew about that. I’ve wondered why I have this need to overexplain. I’m well aware that I’ve just spent 30 years with a gas-lighter. I hadn’t connected that the need to overexplain was a result of the gas-lighting. I’ve even wondered is it something from my childhood that causes me to do this. My father, who is a loving man, has said I am a lateral thinker. He sees the ways I explain things, as going up and going laterally. I think it’s part of my need to overexplain. I have to think of all the avenues, map it all out for everyone. I don’t know if there’s a way my mother had something to do with this, or I was predisposed. When you spoke of journaling and listening to your own inner child, I’ve been doing that for many years also. I am out of the relationship with the gas-lighter. This awareness is healing. I really appreciate that connection today.
I’ll try to keep this short because I am one of those that talk and explain. I think the way I got attention from my parents was by being bright and well-read and well-spoken. It turned into a bad habit and I struggle with it to this day. I realize it is something for me to work on.
Thank you. You couldn’t have said it any better. I had a job for many years and was openly shared about my personal life with everyone. I felt bad when I realized I did that, but it was true and honest. I did not have a good upbringing. Then an abusive marriage with gas-lighting. I was thinking during the meditation about the fact that I was in my late 50s when I left that job, so open and vulnerable. I learned from the experience.
I like that you referred to it as overexplaining. This thought came to me yesterday when you mentioned the line, what you think about yourself is your business. What other people think is not. I’ve lived my life that way. It’s so freeing when I got to the point that I didn’t care what other people think. I’m an over-explainer and I thought of it as proving myself. To hell with that. I know who I am and if somebody else has a different opinion of me, then they don’t really know me. I’m done proving myself. It’s very freeing.
I think it’s important to get in touch with my inner anger because that gives me the fuel to say screw it, I don’t care. That came later in life for me.
I’m reminded when my kids were 14 and 12 years old. I bought them a professional punching bag and I had to hang it on a support beam in the house because of its weight. Its purpose was to give them a place to express their emotions including anger. It was used a lot and in fact, my oldest daughter pushed it through a wall once. It served its purpose. To have a place to vent like journaling, speaking like we do in a trusted environment, is really important.
Listening to your reading is as rich as listening to one another. While listening, I identified I feel things and I don’t necessarily in the moment know how to articulate exactly what it is I’m experiencing. it’s through the discussion with other people sharing reflections and ideas that they seep inside and become clearer so I can discern whether they fit or don’t fit. I’m aware of holding back my experience in the reflections because I wait for clarity about what I was feeling. I think that’s a flipside of over-explanation. It comes from a lack of trust in what I’m feeling is valid. I really appreciate being able to have that experience and to say it out loud.
For me as I sit in silence, I’ve become aware of sensations that go along with the subtleness of a feeling. Silence isn’t just about being without sound. It’s being in the energies of the silence. It’s very subtle and a process that I build upon every day.
I was very shy for many years. When something might happen that I’m uncomfortable with, I struggled to find my voice and strength to speak up about it. It takes me a while to process my thoughts. In hindsight, I wonder if I’m a slow thinker or not.
I think it’s building trust in ourselves. As we practice inner trust, we have more patience and take time to hear our inner thoughts, and demonstrate we believe our inner thoughts. I know at times I ignore my internal reactions or talk myself out of them. As I’ve taken time to demonstrate I believe what I’m saying, it helps me build trust within, have patience in myself to take whatever time I need to process my emotions.
Thank you all for this discussion. This is a personal subject and difficult to talk about. It’s very real in my life. It helps me have patience with me when I’m called on to speak up. I take the time to listen to me because I’m worth it. You are worth it as well. I hope you all have a gentle day.