For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a talker. I think most have just accepted it as part of me, some brush it off and think its funny, but that’s not been the case for me.
I’ve always felt so miserable and embarrassed when I could see people’s minds switching off as I talked, yet I’d still feel a very strong need to keep going. It’s an awful feeling to know I was the cause of what was upsetting me so much, but not really feel in control to stop. But the theme as always, is I didn’t know why I did it, so I didn’t know how to stop it. Now seemed like a good time to find out.
I completed a little process I do now, where I write down what I’m feeling anxious about, but I don’t censor my thoughts. I wrote down several pages about talking, before I got to this single statement:
I talk so much, because I don’t feel safe.
That didn’t sound logical at all on its own, but it does make perfect sense to me now.
As I wrote about all the different reasons why I’d keep talking, I was able to summarise them as:
- To justify my thoughts or actions
- To prove my intelligence
- To explain my point
- To avoid saying what I really think
- To analyse my anxious thoughts
- To share something positive and exciting
The first 4 were the interesting ones, because when I expanded on those, I got this:
- If I didn’t justify my thoughts or actions, what would they think of me?
- If I didn’t prove my intelligence, what would they think of me?
- If I didn’t explain my point and be understood, what would they think of me?
- If I said what I really think, what would they think of me?
I’ve always worried about what others think of me (or what I think they think of me, ugghh), so this was nothing new. But why did what other people think matter to me so much? What did I really think was going to happen if someone disagreed or disapproved? People’s opinions don’t affect my life, right?! My answer:
- When people think negatively towards me, they directly affect my life and the decisions I make, because they bully me and isolate me until I do what they want me to do. I end up feeling like a bad person somehow, not worthy of love, friends or help
Shit. That’s sad reading.
I read that back and knew it wasn’t true of everyone I know, jeez, but I was responding to everyone as though it was. Now I can narrow it down to a very select, clever few people (not just romantic partners as you might expect).
With those few, it wasn’t safe to be myself. Between them they wanted varying degrees of control over my life; who I should date, who I should be friends with, when I could go out, where I should go, when I could be happy, what I was good at. So you can imagine that if I did or said anything they took a dislike to, even something really trivial, I was met with confrontation, anger, manipulation and disapproval. My response has been to keep talking, to justify, prove, and explain myself, until I can see I’ve changed their mind and avoided their consequences.
This had become my expectation of all people, for all situations. I’ve been on autopilot. My bad.
What I’ve learnt
- I wasn’t in control of my own life and decisions
- I talked to cope and avoid consequences
It’s literally a habit of a life time that I need to break, but I’m already on my way to being free from the need to talk. I’m making decisions based on what I’m comfortable with, and what I think is right, not out of fear. And I’ve said goodbye to the controllers.
Because that’s what is good and healthy, for this little mind of mine.