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Dwelling vs. Processing - How to tell the difference

Hey, friends!

Honestly, I've really been stuck trying to figure out what to write about today. People I know keep wanting health updates and stuff like that, but if I'm going to be completely truthful, I really don't want to. When it comes to health and school, right now I'm so overwhelmed and in over my head. And it's all that people ask about.

I mean, seriously. Oncologist is a big scary word that no one wants to say, and as soon as you say it, everyone freaks out. I am constantly being texted, asking how the appointment went, or how I'm doing, or this or that or the other. Don't get me wrong -- I completely appreciate it. But, it's just constant, and right now, I'm having a hard time processing it by myself. Having to tell the same story to a hundred different people is just exhausting.

(Side note: I'm not saying stop asking, I'm saying try to understand if I don't reply.)

So, we aren't going to talk about the details of all of that this morning. Instead, let's talk game plan for a minute. In November (at least this is the plan right now), I'm wanting to start writing my memoir, so a lot of these posts might turn into a more writing based blog. I think it'll still be pretty similar to what I'm doing now, but just angled a bit more in a different direction.

Now, onto today's topic. Processing and Dwelling.

I actually wasn't going to do this topic today, and was going to wait, but, well, sometimes life isn't the nicest and kind of throws things in your face.

Let me give this some context. A couple of days ago, one of my friends sent me a video, and my ex just happened to be in it. I didn't mind that he was in it and there wasn't any visual, so it was all audio. I didn't listen to it until the next day and it was a really funny video actually. When he spoke though, I froze. Thankfully, I was home alone at the time, so I wasn't embarrassed by the rush of emotions slamming into me.

When I heard his voice, I almost started to cry, and thinking about it now, I'm tearing up. I think what a lot of people don't realize, is that what happened (my getting emotional) is completely normal.

My ex and I were friends for almost ten years, and were together for two. So, even though our relationship ended in 2017, I still feel those emotions.

PET-PEEVE ALERT: Being accused of dwelling.

Now, look, I understand there are times before when I've been accused of dwelling and actually was dwelling. Yesterday, what happened, I certainly wouldn't call dwelling. I had a friend of mine accuse me of dwelling around the anniversary of my ex and I's breakup when I mentioned it to her. I got really mad and couldn't bring myself to talk to her for days because I didn't know how to explain why that upset me.

So, here's the question: Are you dwelling? Or are you processing? Let's find out which.


DWELLING - How do I know if I'm dwelling?

Now, before I offend anyone, let me tell you something. There are times for dwelling. Sometimes, dwelling is how you process. Like certain periods of grief. As long as you do not spend the entirety of an extended period of time there. Dwelling is also one of those annoying things that you may not realize you're doing it. It's also very much a "I Know It When I See It" type of thing. So, it can be really hard to identify in yourself. Here are some ways to tell, or some questions to ask yourself:

1) Has someone you trust brought this behavior to your attention?

I really feel like this question is pretty important. Typically, when I'm dwelling on something, it's my mom who brings it to my attention. I'm abnormally close with my mom, so she's totally my best friend. While I don't always agree with what she says, I trust her opinions and normally, when she says I'm dwelling on something, she's right.

I would like to point out here that once someone says something, I generally know if I'm dwelling or not. I feel like most of the time, we all are pretty aware once someone mentions it. So, keep that in mind too. But, if someone you aren't close with mentions it, I really feel like it isn't their place to tell you that (but that's for another blog).

2) Did something trigger these feelings?

This one is really important too! Like I mentioned earlier, I got upset when it was the anniversary of my breakup. This is totally normal!! If something that triggers these feelings that typically means you aren't dwelling on them. Sometimes it can feel like it though, because we aren't always aware of our triggers. My recommendation to help? Try journaling. I know it's a bit cliché to say, but really. It does help you discover the things that remind you of certain situations. Or, even if you just make yourself a bullet-point list. That's what I did.

3) How much time do you spend with the thoughts about what happened/your feelings about it?

How much time you spend with your thoughts and feelings about that situation is super important. If you spend a lot of time there, and every time you think about it, your thoughts get more negative, there's a high possibility you're dwelling. Processing is actually similar in this question. Processing is typically when you add perspective to dwelling.

Let me say that again.

Processing is when you add perspective to dwelling.

Dwelling is defined as: a house, apartment, or other place of residence. So, are you living in these thoughts? Or are you living with these thoughts?

4) How long have you been in this period?

5) How do you see your future?

6) What type of feelings do you find yourself having most often?

Questions 4-6 all kind of tie into question 3. The thoughts and feelings you have reflect where your heart is within the situation. You have to figure out for yourself where to draw the line. Where is dwelling and where is processing? Where is it healthiest for you to stay? If you just keep punching your oozing, bleeding injury, it doesn't feel good, and you aren't healing. So, you have to put yourself into perspective. Are you healing? Or are you poking an injury?

7) Where does God play a role?

This is probably one of the hardest questions for a lot of people I've met. For most of the things I've been through, in the midst of the situation, I had a hard time seeing God in the big picture. That is totally okay. Oftentimes, I have a hard time with big picture. So, try to see the small things. That's where I would find God when things sucked. I kept a gratitude journal, and would write a minimum of three things for every morning and three things for every night, and then I would write down one way I saw God that day. Most of the time, it was just little things like "This stranger held the door open for me and it made my day" or "Someone complimented me on something I was insecure about" or it was even just the way light broke through the clouds.

As long as you are doing your best (or at least attempting) to see God, then it's okay. It's just really important to do when you're hurting. It helps bring some stars to the sky, even if you don't realize it.


To be completely honest, I don't want to get too much into processing because it's really a subject that I could use a whole blog to talk about. But, I do have just a few things I want to talk about.

1) Most times, in order to process emotion, you have to be able to identify what emotions you're feeling.

I feel like this statement is pretty self-explanatory. Now, I know this isn't always true. It's my personal belief that there are always exceptions to everything because everyone is different. But, I find most of the time, it's easiest to process when I'm aware of what it is I'm processing.

2) Processing is when you add perspective to dwelling.

I mentioned this earlier, when I was talking about dwelling. Processing is the same emotions and thoughts as dwelling, but with a more constructive focus. Typically, I find this comes when I'm able to see more of the big picture instead of keeping myself trapped within a box.

3) Processing takes time.

For example, it took me a year and a half to truly process my breakup with my ex. Emotionally, I'm no longer bothered by what happened, and I can recall the situation without it hurting me. I can now objectively view things and say to myself, "Yeah, this is where I screwed up." and the breakup took two people, and now I can recognize that. When it all happened, I could sort of tell that it wasn't just my fault and it wasn't just his. I couldn't really pinpoint how, but now I can.

And, to be honest, the more something hurts when it happens, the longer it takes to process. It's really difficult and full of hurt and frustration. But, remember to give yourself grace and be gentle with yourself. And don't be afraid to ask for help. I've made that mistake too many times to count.

4) Processing takes effort.

This part of processing is the worst. I hate this part, because it typically means I have to journal about it. For some reason, as much as I love to write, I absolutely hate journaling. It's a really weird hang up for me.

This effort looks different for everyone. Sometimes, it means you just need to get out of your house. Other times, it means calling your therapist. Or, maybe it means you need to spend some time alone to really think about everything.

Often, I find being outside helps. Especially when it's something that I need to spend a lot of time with. Being out in nature offers its own sort of peace where I can just be with God and take a minute to breathe.

5) Processing is often easier if you can talk to at least one person about it.

I'm what you could call an introverted extrovert. This means I need just as much time alone as I need with other people. Keep in mind that God designed us to be social. Humans aren't meant to be completely alone. Even if you're introverted, you might find talking about it to one person (even if it's a stranger) can have a sort of relief you may not have ever anticipated. Maybe smaller things it's easy to process alone, but with the bigger things, I can say from personal experience, talking to someone does help.


Personal thoughts? Questions? Concerns? Let me know what you think by commenting down below! Or, send me message though social media.


Written On: October 24th, 2019, 5:00pm

Song of the Day: 6'2'' by Marie Miller

My Favorite Book: The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

One Thing I'm Thankful For: Coffee!!!

A Quirk of Mine: I always have to check if my car doors are locked twice before I'll leave my car somewhere. (Meaning: I literally I have to go and pull on each handle of each door twice.)

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