Tired of Feeling Altschmerze? Rewrite your story with these four reflection questions
One of the things we talked about in the most recent Journal jam was the fatigue of writing about the same old problems in your journal over and over again. It can lead to feelings of frustration because you're doing everything "right" and still dealing with the same old anxiety or intrusive thoughts despite those efforts.
This might be a problem you can relate to. It's definitely one that I've experienced myself! I have gotten stuck in the loop of a negative story about my life, my struggle, my challenge. A harsh story of me not ever being or doing enough, despite my numerous attempts to rise strong. A story that casts doubts on all my efforts to claim my agency and rewrite my story.
This is a common complaint I hear about journaling, writing about the same old thing, feeling like nothing significant has changed. According to the dictionary of obscure sorrows, what you're experiencing is altschmerze. Altschmerze is defined as "weariness of the same old issues that you've always had - the same boring flaws and anxieties you've been gnawing on for years."
In other words, you are not alone in feeling this way! And, it is very likely that more is changing than you're giving yourself credit.
We live in this illusion in our society that dealing with our problems, our challenges, our struggles should be swift and easy. That once we can name them we should be able to fix them quickly, with one click, like a purchase on Amazon. And they'll be gone, we'll be free of worry, fear, anxiety, confusion, flaws.
But nothing could be further from the truth. The challenges we each are dealing with have been deeply etched into our neural pathways since childhood. Yes, the brain possesses amazing neuroplasticity, the potential of which we still do not completely understand. So, yes, you can rewire your brain and rewrite your story. And it takes time, it takes effort, it takes compassion and it takes grace.
So the next time you feel yourself getting frustrated or agitated experiencing altschmerze, hit the pause button. Instead of following that critical, judgmental, harsh story of how you're not enough just stop! And invite the voice of compassion into your story.
The voice of compassion might go something like this, "This is hard work that you are doing! And feeling frustrated is normal but it does not mean you're efforts are all for nothing. You are making progress because you're leaning in. Changing these neural pathways is the work of a lifetime. So be kind and gentle with yourself. And celebrate the progress you've made so far. While you haven't arrived at where you had hoped, you've likely accomplished much more than you're acknowledging."
I have found that judging and critiquing ourselves for feeling altschmerze is a sneaky way for our fear to keep us small and abandon our personal growth. As a result, I have started to take such inner criticism as a sign of progress instead of a signal of failure. That while I want to create a positive change in my life, a part of me is scared of the change. And that part is feeling the burn as the heat gets closer and is screaming at me.
There also might be some valuable insights in this criticism of your efforts. There very well might be things you could tweak about how you're journaling in order to reinforce the new pathways you are developing in your brain. If you do feel like your journal is full of rumination around the same subject, it might be time to experiment with shifting your narrative so you move from venting to actually learning.
At the end of the day, to learn means to change one's behavior. You have the power to elevate your journaling practice so you are learning by bringing your awareness to new insights and rewriting how your story ends!
Here are a few journaling prompts to help you get started!
What has led to you feeling altschmerze lately (fatigue of dealing with the same old problems)?
In what ways have you made progress in dealing with "the same old problems" differently?
What if you rewrote the end of story you've been telling yourself about these "problems"?
What's a specific action you can take to turn this new ending into reality?
What's Rosabella Consulting Up To?
Feeling altschmerze lately? Join use for our next Journal Jam, Thursday May 21 at 10am MST and use your journal to re-write your story while gaining support and camaraderie from people feeling similarly to you! Find more information and register online here.
People have raved about their experiences in the Journal Jam, here's what some people said about the last one:
"I'm feeling grateful...the beauty of connecting with strangers, people who are willing to be open and honest and vulnerable and how beautiful that connection is, I'm really appreciating that in this moment."
"I loved it, it was great...to share in the strangeness and uncertainty of this experience, it makes you feel like you are not alone, whatever you're feeling"
"It was strangely cathartic to just say out loud...my rumination."
"We kinda coalesced around a similar thing...this feeling of needing to keep up...I was surprised to hear how much that I wasn't alone in that feeling."
"That was a very fulfilling experience"