The Art of Processing


If I pass an infomercial when I am flipping through channels on the television, I have to stop. I feel like this might be an innate desire in every human, at least the ones that I’ve talked to. They fascinate me, and I don’t know why! I would never buy one, but I could watch the same Magic Bullet infomercial every week and never get bored. The commercials selling food processors have the most gravitational pull for me. 

It got me thinking about mental processing. I only took one psychology class in college, but it was so interesting to learn about how our minds worked. There are two types of mental processing for us. One is internal processing, where all of one’s thoughts and the ability to work through different situations and circumstances take place in the person’s mind. They have no need to verbalize their thoughts in order for them to make sense of them. The other type is external processing, where one needs to verbalize or even put in written form their thoughts. These people need to talk to a friend or journal to make sense of the situations the find themselves in.

I have always been of the opinion that I am an internal processor. I’m not too talkative, unless you happen to catch me after I’ve had any amount, be it small or exorbitant, of caffeine. I would consider myself an introvert – I like my alone time and I do not have the astounding ability to thrive off jumping from party to party, socializing until the early hours of the morning like many extroverts have. But recently, I had a nice, long conversation at Caribou, the only suitable place to indulge in nice, long conversations, with a lovely sister of mine, and I came to an astounding revelation. I was talking to her about being in a bad mood the day before, and I could not honestly tell her why I had been frustrated. This continued into talking about life decisions, and I ended up saying a lot of “I don’t know”s and lacked any logical reasons for my seeming “problems.” I realized in that conversation that I had not truly thought about any of my reasons for the things that I was struggling with until I talked to her. I had been mired in my own mind, not thinking things through completely and continuing to be frustrated for no good reason. 

I have come to the conclusion that I am an external processor, and looking at different definitions for it I found one that explained that external thinking is the,

Outward and active focus on applying logical order

to the objective world through building structure,

organization and making decisions.”

This resonated with me, because if you know me at all, you will know that I love organization and making lists. I made the mistake of thinking that because I happened to be shy and introverted, that I had the magical ability to solve all my problems on my own by working them out in my mind. Good thing that God decided he had had enough of my pride for the day. He really likes to do this, I’ve come to find out. I believe that everyone should figure out what type of mental processor they are. As one of my patron saints, St. Teresa of Avila said, “Know thyself.” It’s simple, it’s easy to remember, and it is one of the most important steps we can take on our journey to sainthood. You and I can not grow if we don’t take the time to know and understand ourselves, how we work, how we think, and don’t even get me started on your love languages or languages of apologies. Those deserve a separate post just for themselves. 

And now here I am; this blog is my small step in externalizing my mental processing in order to grow. I have found that there are so many “problems” that I think I have or am dealing with, and all it takes is to put them down on paper or tell someone for them to vanish into the cold, brisk wind of my current Minnesota surroundings. I encourage you to figure out the type of mental processing you work best with. I have a hunch that many women are external processors because of our tendency and love for chatting. The problems that prevent us from externally processing things come from our pride. I know I sure don’t want to admit to people that I have problems! It doesn’t mean we should tell everyone we encounter, or all our friends, all of our problems, all the time. But maybe just one friend, or a lovely sister, that you can have those nice, long conversations with, to make sure that things aren’t getting blown out of proportion in your mind. Believe me, it’s harder than it sounds! That is why I now consider the ability to process an art. 

I subscribe to the Simple Dollar blog, and I read this article this morning. I highly recommend reading it; it focuses on the things that you “want” and encourages you to examine your reasons for wanting it.



2 thoughts on “The Art of Processing

  1. When did you start reading the simple dollar and how did you find it? I have been reading it for a while also, I have really enjoyed it, especially the Sunday “10 pieces of inspiration”

    • I found it because Laura showed me an well-written article on Simple Dollar about making goals and so I signed up for the e-mails. It has been really enjoyable to read – I hadn’t heard of the “10 pieces of inspiration” though, I’ll have to look that up!

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