You Can’t Share Everything with Everyone
Learning to protect your privacy
Before we begin, I have some exciting news. You Need To Hear This, my new podcast is launching Thursday. Listen to the trailer here.
There are times when we share something with someone and feel it necessary to tell them “Don’t tell anybody.” In some relationships that may just be a clarification, but sometimes, that need to say “Don’t tell anybody,” is a sign that we have some concerns about the person’s ability to keep the information private.
My favorite relationships are the ones where I don’t have to say, “Don’t tell anybody,” because it’s implied. The relationship that I have with that person, and the boundaries that we’ve created with one another don’t need to be spoken every time I share. Our history with one another is enough for them to know that what I’m saying is not for anyone else’s ears.
I have learned to be intentional about who I share certain details of my life with. When we notice that people don’t have the capacity to keep things private we need to:
Limit what we share with them. We can’t say, “Oh my gosh, my sister-in-law tells all my business,” and continue to tell her our business, when she has proven time and time again that she is not someone who can keep a secret. Instead of being upset, we have to change the way we interact with them.
Find different things to talk about. When we still want to be in relationship with people who can’t keep what we tell them to themselves, we have to learn to talk about things that we don’t mind being shared. Figure out what conversations you’re willing to have with them and set conversational boundaries
Talk to them about their oversharing. We can have a conversation with them about their oversharing and how we would like them to respond. It can be really helpful for you to disclose that you don’t feel comfortable telling them things, and why.
Just because people don’t have the ability to keep things private doesn’t make them bad people. People share the information that was told to them for a variety of reasons including:
They think it’s just conversation. They see sharing the information as a way to connect with others.
It feels too heavy for them to keep it to themselves. They share with others because they need someone else to help them process what you disclosed.
Out of genuine concern. They want to help you with what you shared, and they feel like they need someone else’s help to do that.
They’re messy. They have not learned the self-control to not spread other people’s business.
Ultimately, we have to set the boundaries around what we do and don’t share. It’s not for the other person to protect our privacy.
How do you determine who to share private details of your life with?
A Few Things That Caught My Attention This Week
Your Email Does Not Constitute My Emergency, by Adam Grant, in The New York Times.
6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Cutting Off a Toxic Family Member, by Samantha Vincenty, in SELF.
Loneliness: The Universal Struggle No One Wants to Admit, by Todd Baratz on the Unfiltered Real Talk Substack.
Nedra Glover Tawwab: Drama Free: A Guide to Managing Unhealthy Family Relationships on the Family Action Network channel on Youtube.