How Do You Process Things?

I am a slow processor. It took me about two and half months to write anything about the pandemic. It was like my ability to express myself in a public way was completely frozen. There were no words. Well, no online words. There were lots of words for Ben. He listened very patiently, and that felt easy and necessary, but for some reason, I couldn’t post a thing online until I was ready.

So I guess it will be another two months before I’ll have anything to say about racism and everything going on in the world right now, because once again, I’m lost in thought, and I won’t resurface for awhile.

I’m okay with it – my whole life, I’ve thought long and hard about most things. The only problem is that sometimes, silence can be interpreted as not caring or not having an opinion. This is far from the truth.

Sitting back and watching a pandemic go by has made it more clear to me than ever how different people have different speeds at which they process things. I admire the people who can jump into action immediately. The world needs people like that, who can take charge quickly and efficiently.

But you know what else the world needs? Slow processors. We need balance. Badly. If we only listen to the fast opinions getting blasted out in quick succession, it doesn’t give us the full picture, and it robs us of perspective.

Because the internet moves so quickly, and we’re a culture addicted to fast results and a quick pace, it feels as though we move on to the next thing before taking the time to process all sides of an issue. Many times over the last few weeks, I’ve finally felt the urge to write about something, and then thought, “Oh, forget it – I missed my opportunity. I took too long to process it, and now it’s not relevant anymore.”

But when I have those thoughts, it disturbs me. I’m not the only person in the world who needs a bit of time to figure out all the thoughts and feelings. How many perspectives are we missing because we as a culture move on too quickly?

I’ve also thought, “I should just get my thoughts out faster. Does it have to matter whether I feel ready or not?”

Yes. Yes, it does. I answered that question for myself fairly quickly. I once heard an interview with Andrew Peterson in which he talked about his songwriting process, and he said something brilliant. He shared a piece of advice he once received that he always sticks to. It went something like this: “Don’t write songs about hard times until you’re through them. If you write a song while you’re still in the middle of something hard, you make the audience your therapist. Wait until you’ve completely dealt with it, and then you’re ready to share it with the world.”

This feels wise and true to me. It’s my filter for knowing when I’m ready to publicly share the things I carry close to me. In person, my mouth says lots of things it probably shouldn’t, but online, I don’t feel ready to say stuff until I’m through it. Facebook is not my therapist. Neither is this blog. It is wonderful to have these platforms to share from publicly, but I always want to use caution and care.

I’m sure there are many other people out there who express themselves at a slower pace. But do we get to hear their voices? Are we moving too quickly to make time and space for those who are slower to process and speak up?

I want to hear all the voices in the room. I want a discussion that is varied and complicated, even if it makes me uncomfortable, because it means more perspectives are being brought to the table. If everyone is agreeing, it probably means a greater variety of voices need to be heard.

There are a few questions I’ve been asking myself recently:

  • Am I seeking opportunities to hear a variety of opinions?
  • Do I make space for those who are slower and quieter in the way they share? (Loudest and fastest to respond does not necessarily mean smartest and most correct!)
  • Am I doing the slow, hard inner work to process things thoroughly and gain a better understanding, instead of taking things at face value?
  • Am I willing to speak up, even when it might not come naturally or easily, so that others can benefit from a wider variety of opinions and perspectives?

These are hard things to do, but as I watch everything going on in the world around me, I keep thinking that I want a deeper, fuller understanding. I’m craving slower reactions, deeper thoughts, more controlled responses from those who have done the work of processing, at all different speeds. I’m thankful for all the people who are putting effort into bringing good words and thoughts into the world.

So if you are the fast type of processor, thank you for leading the way when I’m a few weeks away from having a clue. And if you’re a slow processor, don’t keep quiet because you think you’ve missed the opportunity to share your thoughts. We need all perspectives in order to find balance.

4 thoughts on “How Do You Process Things?

  1. Hi Kendra.

    I too am one of the people who processes things much more slowly. Thank you for sharing this post, I definitely spoke to my heart.

    God’s blessings,
    Helen

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