Talk too much, to the point it leaves you feelingrejected or embarrassed? Or dealing with a garrulous colleague or family member, and struggling to have empathy?
Why do I talk too much?
Some people are naturally more talkative.Scientists have found, for example, that girls have more of communication-related gene called Foxp2 than boys. This could be one of the reasons girls are more inclined to be chatty.
But being a natural-born talker doesn’t affect your self-control. If asked to talk less, you generally can. You can learn and put into action better listening skills.
But what if I really can’t stop talking?
Then you might suffer from compulsive talking, also referred to as being a ‘talkaholic’. (Two psychologists at Western Virginia University even created a ‘talkaholic scale‘). If you have an issue with compulsive talking, you:
are aware that your talking upsets others but still can’t stop
are less inhibited than the other speakers (for example, oversharing)
Researchers at the University if Arizona found that those who talk excessively about themselves are less likely to be narcissists (no research has proven this concept) and more likely to be suffering from distress, depression or anxiety. And the research was thorough, looking at a dataset of over 4,700 individuals from two different countries.
Mental health issues that see leave you talkative
So what are the mental health issues that see you out of control of how much you talk?
1. The low confidence cliché.
Talk too much or too fast until you adjust to new situations?
The first assumption people make about someone who is too chatty is that it’s just a sign of low confidence. It’s a cliché held up by teen movies everywhere, with the stereotype of the loud class clown.
Low confidence tends to stop when we are comfortable with a new group or social situation. If our over talking continues, there’s more to the story.
2. The shame game.
Secretly feel there is something deeply wrong with you? Had a childhood experience that scarred you?
photo by: John Amachaab
Shame means that we have somewhere along the line had an experience we internalised as our fault.
Words become a smoke screen to hide our perceived unworthiness behind, an awkward form of self protection.
3. Anxiety and social anxiety.
Talk when you are nervous? And the more nervous you get, the more you blather?
Anxiety can leave even an introverted person talking too much, particularly if they have social anxiety (anxiety triggered by new social situations). Talking too much creates a false persona to hide our terrified selves behind.
4. Adult ADHD.
Feel that words come out your mouth before you even realise you thought them? Tend to interrupt others before you realise what you are doing? Constantly have the sense that your mind and mouth have some faulty connection that leaves you embarrassed and angry at yourself?
Sometimes compulsive talking is because our brain works differently. When you haveadult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), your brain dances from one thing to the next and you might have impulse control issues, such as speaking out of turn and interrupting others.
5. Asperger’s syndrome.
Been accused of being rude and you don’t understand why? Tend to be very passionate about a certain subject?
Asperger’s involves not having a natural talent for social cues. This combines with a tendency to be very passionate and focussed on things you like. So while others just naturally seem to know when to stop talking, or when other’s have lost interest in what is being said, you won’t notice.
Feel uncomfortable with silence? Worry the other person isn’t talking as they are upset or something is wrong?
If we suffer with codependency issues, we are a people pleaser. We fill in silence with upbeat chattiness in an effort to make others around us happy, not noticing if maybe they just don’t feel talkative.
Did you live through a traumatic experience as an adult? Or a series of difficult experiences as a child?
Post-traumatic stress disorder has anxiety as one of its symptoms, which can lead to over talking. Complex PTSD, post-traumatic stress caused by an ongoing set of stressful experiences such as childhood sexual abuse, often comes with shame. And again, shame can mean some of us present ourselves as bright and chatty to hide our real selves that we see as not good enough.
8. Borderline personality disorder.
The master of long, intense conversations that go on for hours, until you forget about the world outside? But also sometimes burst out with mean, ugly things that push others away? And leave you in a puddle of regret later?
Mania, which is often a part of bipolar disorder, involves a raised energy state and whirring thoughts, which for many can result in talking very fast and losing social cues over how much you are talking or going on.
What can help if I talk too much?
1. Make lemonade.
Everything has a positive and and a negative. Finding the good side of compulsive talking can raise our self-esteem. For example, if it weren’t for over sharers, we wouldn’t have great podcasts.
Some therapists use a tool called ‘progressive muscle relaxation’ to help their clients be more in their bodies and calm. Read our article on “How to Relax in Record Time”.
Self-compassion, the art of treating ourselves like a friend, raises our self-esteem. It helps with relating, too. The more we are kind and open with ourselves, the easier it is to be kind and open with others.
If you find you over express your feelings and thoughts around others, try expressing them on paper instead. Journalling with intent can also help you learn more about who you really are, which can raise your confidence and self-worth.
And yes, try therapy
Yes, ironically, even though therapy is about talking, it does help if you talk too much. It helps you feel more self aware and confident, so you have less to prove. And it helps you recognise and work through core issues driving your talkativeness, like shame and childhood trauma.