When I was in the darkest period of my depression, one piece of feedback I received from those around me was, “You always talk about the same thing!” This was sometimes given in exasperation or just as an observation. I resented it at the time and am only now realizing that rehashing an issue over and over can be a good sign that someone is on the threshold of change at a deep level.
Core issues are hard to address because they make up the “roots” of what we believe. Shifting those roots is difficult work. Sometimes they shift a little, then snap back into place. Our frustration increases as we try to forge new pathways.
Change of that nature is important. It also triggers a lot of difficult emotions because these beliefs are core to who we are. Parts of us are going to be totally transformed, and change can be scary . We may cry or yell, anxiety and depression may increase, and because the process is so long and takes such diligent work, we often rehash the same issue again and again, trying to find ways to get the roots to regrow in a new direction.
That’s normal and healthy and a great sign you’re doing the core work and are ready for change.
As long as you are rehashing because you are actively working on the issue (even if the work is just trying to better understand it), rehashing is important and can be very helpful because each time you rehash, the new pathways sink a little more firmly into place.
If you are rehashing with no desire to change or even become aware of what’s going on, that’s when it serves as a distraction instead of an aid. This can bring temporary relief when others sympathize with you and can help you feel validated (not unimportant by any means), but it doesn’t push you toward growth. Instead, it becomes an addicting cycle where, in order to feel the relief, you must keep rehashing. The goal is to get relief by getting things off your chest instead of getting relief by working through the underlying concerns. Be wary of that.
If you are friends with someone who talks about the same issue a lot, be careful not to assume which of the two types of rehashing you’re seeing. Changing a core issue is like turning a ship around—it takes time, and there can be long periods where it doesn’t even seem like the ship is moving. That’s normal, and although frustrating, it’s nothing to worry about. Patience is key.
If you rehash often, you’re not alone. That’s how so many of us process information and initiate change. Take heart! See it as a sign you are on the right track, tired of where you’re at, frustrated because you don’t know where to go, but searching nevertheless. Show yourself kindness and compassion and see the rehashing as a sign you are heading in the right direction.