A couple decades ago, personal information concerning divorce, sexual orientation, fetishes, mental issues were usually kept private. But the world is different. Strangely different. As adults, it's important to compartmentalize your life, even though all of your problems may seep over into every aspect of your life.
Reality television has blurred the lines, but television shows aren't all to blame. It's the misunderstanding of the concept of being authentic. There are thousands of self-help books and Ted Talks that encourage authenticity - but it is not synonymous with posting your problems on Facebook. Treating social media like a personal diary and treating friends as if they are a clinically trained therapist can have serious consequences.
Oversharing is a sign of trauma.
Oversharing is a sign of trauma. Most individuals don't realize that they have overshared until after they have done it. In light of the pandemic, it's not hard to realize that people are struggling with loneliness and they do anything to get attention, consciously or unconsciously. According to Science Daily, researchers from The University of Edinburgh and Northwestern University in Illinois found that the risk of oversharing in conversation actually increases as people age. When testing 100 people from 17 to 84 years old on their attention skills, the researchers discovered that the older subjects provided listeners with more irrelevant details than their younger peers. As this behavior can be dangerous — older people might accidentally reveal private info to strangers looking to take advantage — this finding is essential in helping "design targeted training that helps older adults improve these skills and avoid embarrassing and potential risky communicative errors,” said lead researcher Madeleine Long, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences.
As a theologian, I see how clergymen (or aspiring clergy men) have used social media to feel important. It's disgraceful because many of them do not understand how oversharing, even through photos, causes others to see the demons that they wrestle with. I've had to pull aside several women aside and address their oversharing because it affected the way people saw them. One woman in particular still stands out in my mind. She was an older woman seeking validation from social media users through pictures that made her look mentally and spiritually confused. Selfies aren't always an indication of oversharing, but in this case, it was about the frequency of the selfies, the angle, and the facial expressions. They were just odd for a woman of her age and physical stature. When I brought the issue up in a conversation, she admitted how she just wanted to feel pretty. My heart broke. I completely understand how someone can be driven by rejection to overshare, but there's an issue when people overshare "in Jesus name". Unfortunately, this woman still demonstrates this behavior which is the most disturbing part of it all.
At some point, you have to ask yourself if your heart has been hardened to sound counsel because you subscribe to "Church Hurt Theology". Are you as self-aware as you think you are? What are your real intentions behind promoting who you are and what you do?
In my opinion, oversharing is a by product of individuals who do not submit to leadership.
Real leaders ask the hard questions.
Real leaders offend.
..Oversharing is a by product of individuals who do not submit to leadership.
But guess what? This world doesn't like to be offended by the truth because the lie is instagramable. Oversharing doesn’t actually promote healthy relationships, especially in church based relationships. Instead, it tends to make other people feel awkward. They might feel pressure to “match” the sharing, which may cause further discomfort and resentment or tarnish their witness to others.
The difference between oversharing and vulnerability is intent. Vulnerability is a quality that brings people closer together and leaves them feeling more connected. Oversharing does the opposite. It’s an uncomfortable and unsatisfying experience for both parties. It can leave the person on the receiving end of the oversharing feeling mystified about why the other person is telling them this, helpless to give them the support they want or need, and burdened with expectations they didn’t ask for.
The difference between oversharing and vulnerability is intent.
As Brené Brown writes in her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead:
“Oversharing is not vulnerability. In fact, it often results in disconnection, distrust, and disengagement.”
So how do we avoid oversharing and step into authentic vulnerability? My honest suggestion is ponder these questions often:
Why am I sharing this?
What outcome am I hoping for?
What emotions am I experiencing?
Do my intentions align with my values?
Is there an outcome, response, or lack of a response that will hurt my feelings?
Is this sharing the service of connection?
Am I genuinely asking the people in my life for what I need?
We're in the second week of the reFINE Me Group Coaching Program and we're discussing "Oversharing". We would love for you to join us for the next five weeks! Registration is going to be open for one more week.
What are your thoughts?
Dr. Dee Evans
CEO, Koinonia Training and Consulting
CEO, The Dee Evans Group
Dr. Dee Evans is an internationally recognized consultant and life coach. She has been awarded several leadership awards and she is a respected educator and Christian leader. She is the author of several books, which include: "God, I'm Disappointed, Procrastination: A Kingdom Perspective on the Theology of Work". Connect with Dr. Dee Evans by visiting the links below.
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