Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you heard somebody say that they are “all up in their head” about something?

Is this one of those phrases that may feel a bit confusing to you?

If you are like many people then hearing such phrases may seem confusing, and therefore you want to know how to use them.

Today we’re going to look at this phrase and others like it to understand them, and also touch on how people talk and relate in various cultures.

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We have a question from a listener about a common phrase that you may have heard before.

Hi ladies,

What does it mean to be all up in your head? I heard it while watching a series, but didn’t know what it means. By the way I’m winning by listening to your podcast everyday!

Thank you for your help!

Being All Up In Something

Have you ever heard the phrase “all up in your head?”

So what does this phrase mean?

It means that you are thinking too much about something, and it has a negative connotation.

If you have a friend that is stressing about something, you may tell them to “stop being all up in your head about this.”

This can be a good reality check to your friends or you if you are in a situation where you need it.

You may have a tendency to be all up in your own head when you feel stressed about something, but it’s not a good way to handle stress.

If you are like this it can lead to anxiety about whatever the subject is.

There are a couple of other phrases in this area that you may hear and use.

  • To be all up in someone’s business: You are caring too much about what’s happening in somebody else’s life. You may be asking too many questions or giving too many opinions. It may be that you are acting nosy or invading their privacy. You are being too pushy and getting too sucked into their life and their issues! You may mean it in a positive way, but it may be taken in a negative way. This may be more common in a small town or tight knit community where everyone knows what is going on in each other’s lives.
  • To be all up in someone’s face: This is closing off all physical contact altogether. You may be standing way too close to somebody and they don’t like this. They are standing too close to you, and it may make you feel uncomfortable. You can actually almost feel this physical closeness and it can make you feel uncomfortable.

These phrases are useful and you may hear them often, and they start to touch on proximity and the way in which you talk to somebody or think through things.

High Context vs. Low Context Cultures

This leads into the idea of high context vs. low context cultures, and understanding what that means.

Let’s start by understanding that a high context culture is one in which you talk closely and frequently and intimately–even the physical proximity is closer in this type of culture.

In a low context culture you may not talk often or deeply, and you likely stand further apart in terms of your physical proximity.

In the US we are a low context culture for a few reasons.

We don’t stand close to others physically, and that distance is a big part of it.

In other cultures you can expect people to stand a lot closer as part of the way that they naturally act.

The low context culture in the US is also about the way in which we talk to each other, which is to say we aren’t really that invested into the details of people’s lives all the time.

Cross cultural communication is a hot topic because there are so many factors involved in this.

How you talk to each other within a given culture varies dramatically, and you want to be aware of how it works where you are at.

Even simply understanding how something works may be assumed or insinuated within a low context culture, and the truth is that you may not understand it in full detail.

You may not feel as comfortable asking a lot of questions or asking for reinforcement if you are within a low context culture.

High context may ultimately come off as too nosy and may be a bit too direct, especially if you aren’t used to this way of communicating.

However too low context may mean that you don’t feel comfortable asking more questions even if you have them.

It’s important to be aware of the type of culture you are living in and dealing with because it matters greatly.

You want to know what people are accustomed to in this culture, and then adapt when it comes to communication style and approach.


It’s easy to get all up in your head, but it doesn’t usually lead to good things.

Now you know how to talk about this sort of thing, as it may come up often in conversations.

The way in which you talk to each other or even stand near each other in a culture can vary significantly.

This is something to be aware of and know how to adjust to, so that you can get used to the way in works in the culture you are communicating within.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section below.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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