E.A. (Explainers Anonymous)

Hi, my name is Amy and I’m a compulsive explainer.

Blogging may not be the best hobby for one with my affliction. Heigh-ho.

It’s funny, too, because I’ve given the advice to not apologize just to placate– to keep the peace at all costs– because if you’re in a continuing relationship with an individual that demands that you’re pasting a kick-me sign on your own back.

I never realized that “explaining” does a similar thing with some people.

The writer’s-group abbreviation RUE (resist the urge to explain) is something I need to train myself to apply.


I’ve known for a while I’m a compulsive explainer– in Sunday school I’ve mentioned it twice, mostly as a way to explain my need to explain– but I never really thought about doing things differently until I was walking with a friend shortly after getting my new dog.

“I thought at first I didn’t want a pit because I didn’t want one more thing in my life to explain– homemaking, no preschool, teaching natural birth control, storytelling as both necessary and a true art. All have become things I have to explain, and now I throw a pit bull into the mix.”

“Why explain?” my friend asked. “Just be confident you’re doing the best for your family and let it go at that. People can understand or not.”

But they *have* to understand! I wanted to say.

But, they don’t.

Will it really change anything? Why hang your peace on what everyone thinks? We already know we can’t make everyone happy.

I don’t know how long this audio podcast will still be available on-line, so click over when you can and listen while you do housework or something. It’s called Dealing with the Crazy Makers in Your Life, and is a conversation based on a book with the same title.

The show opens with he author describing several different kinds of “crazy makers,” those people who take their problems into every relationship–it really is them, not you. Things like the aggressive personality, the martyr, the Egotist (“One nice thing about Egotists– they don’t talk about other people…”) and borderline personality disorder.

Then, in the second half, he talks about what hooks these problems catch other people with, and finally what to do differently (as someone trying to stay healthy).

Interesting to me, one of the more common hooks, and a most ineffective coping (or placating) strategy, is explaining.

Some of his advice might seem controversial to some (“Quit trying to understand her feelings– you won’t be able to.”) but it was very eye-opening for me.

My conclusion: I’ve found two ways (so far) “explaining” can be unhealthy.

  • It saps my confidence. It puts me in the mindset that I have to justify myself to everyone around me.

It is another twist on the unhealthy fear of Man, and encourages thinking overmuch about how you appear to others (after all, they aren’t those who I am first, or even ultimately, accountable to).

  • It is the precise behavior that will encourage those habits or responses that you want to fix by explaining.

For example, with the borderline personality everything tends to be taken so personally this turns into the classic, “digging yourself deeper into the hole.”

I have a habit of explaining. It’s part of my analytical nature (and serves me well at times). Since I want to know the ins and outs of everything, the why is frequently on my mind. When that comes out, it’s as explaining.

The change I have to consciously make is one of {blush} basic maturity. Not saying everything that comes into my head– even if it is applicable.


For a long time I just talked about what ever the conversation triggered in my mind, and explained how I got from point A to point G in .8-seconds. Then I matured a little more, and managed to just go off on the topic we were actually talking about.

I think the next step (and *yay!* I had a taste of this yesterday, leading Sunday school) is limiting myself not only to those things that are applicable, but also to those things that are efficacious. That Ephesians 4:29 test that I don’t think often enough to apply:

No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for the building up of someone in need, in order to give grace to those who hear.

My tendency has always been to focus on the first part (talk nice) and forget the latter part: speak only what is beneficial. (I’m glad the verse– at least in English– doesn’t seem to specify my speech can only benefit others. My dear husband frequently listens to my talk in order to benefit me.)

~ ~ ~

So, call all that explanation if you must, but it was beneficial to me to lay it all out in an orderly manner. And I hope some other reader might find it useful too. Lord willing, I hope to continue to mature.

3 thoughts on “E.A. (Explainers Anonymous)

  1. Interesting thoughts. I too want to explain it all. I’ll have to think about this, especially the part about what is beneficial. Is it really beneficial that you know exactly why I think the say I do?

    Hmmmmm. . .

  2. Pingback: Untangling Tales » Especially when you know God's not calling you to change...

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