Thinking It Through: Life as a verbal processor

“Verbal processors speak to clarify thoughts.

Non-verbal processors think before they speak.”


Do you ever have a moment where you hear something new and suddenly everything clicks? That is how I felt when I read the above words. I am a verbal processor. Even basic concepts feel slightly intangible to me until I can say them out loud. I now understand why I need to tell people about random, trivial moments in my day; why I feel a pressure to tell all my new ideas to someone immediately; why I have an obsession with sharing every new interest that comes my way; even why I like writing. When I write, I mouth the words, often repeating them out loud. Doing this helps me make sense of my world.

I fully grasp things only when I can get them outside of my head. Some people have this amazing superpower where they can have an idea, leave it their head, and magically it develops into a full-grown understanding. That amazes me. If I leave something in my head, it feels like an itch that can’t be scratched. Something eternally, intangibly out of reach. However, if I can pull it out of my head, and throw it at someone (even if that someone is myself), it makes perfect sense. I just need to get it out.

Verbal processors are infamous for thinking out loud and confusing all the non-verbal processors around them. I realize I am immensely guilty of this. I may say, “I want to learn Korean” but what I am also actually saying is, “What are the implications of studying this language? What steps would I need to take? Will I actually have time?” Chances are, I will decide I don’t actually have the resources at the moment to do so, and I will move on. However, to the non-verbal processor who heard me say that, I just went back on my word. I failed to follow-through. This can be aggravating to them as the process repeats itself, and I jump to a new idea, or a new problem. This perception is something I need to be more aware of, though I also ask for grace in the future. It’s how I think!

It also means that when I have a problem, I am not necessarily looking for an answer. An obvious decision might be right before me, but I need to talk my way through the problem to find it. I might appear to be rambling, or “random,” but in a very real sense the puzzle comes together in my head with each seemingly unconnected train of thought. To a non-verbal processor the puzzle fits together inside their mind. To me, the pieces remain dim and fuzzy until I can express them verbally.

If you have ever been in the room with me while I tried to write a paper, you’ve definitely seen me do this. I’ll run into the room and read a sentence out loud, then go back to my corner and promptly delete it. Or I will switch words around. Or I will leave it and then pester you with the next sentence. It isn’t so much that I want an opinion, though affirmation certainly helps, as I need to get the words out of my head, off the paper, and into my brain. Hence, this is why I’m a terror to be around while I write.

My hope in writing this is to provide a better grasp of how I look at the world, and maybe connect with others who struggle to have their need for rambling understood. If I barrage you with a series of seemingly meaningless stories or appear to inconsistently throw ideas around, I don’t mean to confuse you. I genuinely am trying to figure out how it all fits together. Thank you to every single introvert who has unknowingly functioned as my “sounding wall” over the past 21 years. (Especially my immediate family, Claire, and Kris. Y’all rock)

I strongly recommend going up to the top and following the link to Scott Reyes’s article. His entire blog is helpful!


7 responses to “Thinking It Through: Life as a verbal processor

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