Learning to “Try Softer” and Grow in Self-Compassion (Aundi Kolber)

Do you have trouble showing yourself compassion like Jesus does to you?  Are you your greatest critic? Do you feel like you’re being selfish or wasting time and energy to be kind to yourself? Do you live from the template that you’re not enough and you’re unlovable? Do you acknowledge your experiences are valid or do you minimize or numb the pain?

When I first read about a book called Try Softer by Aundi Kolber, I knew I needed to read it, especially when I read:

“I want you to begin to develop a new awareness of your story and your wounds so you can attend to your pain with the same tenderness God does.”

To be honest, I don’t treat myself with the tenderness and compassion God does. Do you?

Aundi Kolber, a trauma therapist, discovered she never really learned how to hold the pain of others without internalizing it, because she had never really processed her own trauma. She just kept white-knuckling her way through, leaving herself exhausted and overwhelmed.

Trying softer means to become more attentive to our bodies, minds, and spirits so we can give each of these parts what it needs to heal. Trying hard to dismiss or deny our trauma will only have detrimental effects to ourselves and others. It’s in acknowledging the reality of our pain and learning to process our stories that we become more of who God designed us to be.

Aundi helps us to understand the complexity of our God-created brains and how God designed our bodies and minds to work together to process our stories. She equips, empowers, and encourages us to connect to our truest self, to move out of anxiety, stress, and survival mode into a life of connection and joy.

“In Try Softer, you’ll learn how to:

  • Know and set emotional and relational boundaries
  • Make sense of the difficult experiences you’ve had
  • Identify your attachment style―and how that affects your relationships today
  • Move through emotions rather than get stuck by them
  • Grow in self-compassion and talk back to your inner critic

Trying softer is sacred work. And while it won’t be perfect or easy, it will be worth it. Because this is what we were made for: a living, breathing, moving, feeling, connected, beautifully incarnational life.”

I’m only into the fourth chapter of this book as I have to take it slowly, so I can process all I’m learning. And sometimes I need to put it aside for a while, because it’s not always easy to discover deep, buried layers that still need more healing. At the same time, I am fascinated by how God has wired our brains to process trauma.

Some of my favorite quotes so far are:

“There are truly times when the best, healthiest, most productive thing we can do is not to try harder, but rather to try softer: to compassionately listen to our needs so we can move through pain – and ultimately life – with more gentleness and resilience.”

“Like the ever-elusive quick fix, ignoring, pretending, or numbing something doesn’t usually resolve our pain.”

“When we deny the reality of our experiences, we don’t become more of who God designed us to be, but less.”

“When I understand why my brain is reacting the way it is, I become empowered to validate the underlying need and then work on changing the situation.”

“We are not defined by our best days or our worst days. We are His beloved.”

“You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.
You have recorded each one in Your book.”
Psalm 56:8
“The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
He has compassion on all He has made.”
Psalm 145:8-9

He Knows My Name
by The McRaes

22 thoughts on “Learning to “Try Softer” and Grow in Self-Compassion (Aundi Kolber)

  1. Yes, yes, yes, and yes. She hangs her shamed head. Oh how you’ve put your finger on my own experience with your opening questions! This book came into my orbit recently and I knew I just had to read it. So I’ve bought it as a gift to myself for my forthcoming September birthday because it didn’t feel right for a summer read when the heat always scrambles my brain. This book’s content suggests an approach of slow thoroughness and inner honesty that cannot be rushed. As a recovering try hard perfectionist, trying softer sounds counter-intuitive yet incredibly necessary to bring about deeper layers of healing. Thanks for profiling it here, Trudy. You’ve succeeded in whetting my appetite to read it even more! And I hope and pray you are benefiting by learning to try softer yourself, my friend. Blessings, love and hugs! xo ❤

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    1. I knew I had to read it, too, Joy. The questions put a finger on my own experience, too! It’s so true that “this book’s content suggests an approach of slow thoroughness and inner honesty that cannot be rushed.” Good for you for buying yourself a gift of this book! Thank you for your prayers. Blessings, love, and hugs to you, too! May we together learn to try softer and give ourselves more compassion like Jesus does!

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  2. Oh this sounds like such a great book, Trudy. This especially has been part of my journey these last few years of how God has been helping me to “discover(ed) she never really learned how to hold the pain of others without internalizing it, because she had never really processed her own trauma. She just kept white-knuckling her way through, leaving herself exhausted and overwhelmed.” He is so gentle with us, may we learn to find that same gentleness withing ourselves and walk with Him through the healing. I pray that God is blessing you so much as you are walking forward with Him through these days too, dear friend. Love and hugs for you! xoxo

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    1. It’s so hard sometimes to hold the pain of others without internalizing it, isn’t it? Yes, truly God is so gentle with us, Bettie. Thank you for your prayers. Love and hugs to you, too! May we, like Jesus is with us, be more gentle with ourselves and walk forward with Him!

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  3. Trudy, this sounds like an amazing book! The idea of trying softer really resonates with me. It doesn’t take much for me to slip into a self-criticizing place. and though God’s done a lot of healing in my heart, at times I still struggle with feeling like I’m not enough. Thank you so much for sharing this! I look forward to hearing what else God shows you as you travel through this book.

    Hugs and blessings to you, sweet friend.

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    1. Me, too, Jeanne. It’s so easy to slip into that self-criticizing place, isn’t it? Even after God has already done a lot of healing in our hearts. Those negative voices can be so loud sometimes. May God give us grace to hang on tightly to His Truth that we are enough in Him and we are His beloved! Hugs and blessings to you, too!

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  4. This sounds like a great book, Trudy, and one that I would benefit from. It is very easy to fall into being self-critical and to forget the compassion God has for us. I love the quotes that you shared!

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    1. I think it would be beneficial for all survivors and those who work with people who deal with trauma, Lesley. Do you still mentor at Journey to Heal Ministries? Will you be able to work soon with kids face to face again? I hope so! May we cling to the truth of God’s compassion for us and replace the lies with His truth!

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      1. I haven’t been able to mentor anyone since March because of the pandemic. I could get started again now and I definitely want to but I’m not sure how to connect with the people in the community who would benefit from it just now.
        I am hoping and praying that I may get to do a little bit of face to face work with kids next month but I’m not sure. Schools started back here last week so it will depend on how infection rates go over the next few weeks.

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  5. Trudy, I was just reading something about this book earlier today, and then here it is on your blog! It’s so wonderful that you are willing to work through books like this despite the emotional energy it requires. Not everyone is willing to do the hard work required of lifetime healing, but you provide us with a good example of how it can be done. Love and hugs to you, my friend!

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    1. Thank you for your kind encouragement, Lois. Yes, it is hard work, and sometimes I have to set it aside a while. I’m so grateful for how much God has led me on this healing journey, but it seems there are always some deeper layers to address. And I look forward to the day when we will be with Jesus and completely healed! Love and hugs to you, too! May God heal all our brokenness!

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  6. This sounds like an amazing book. I definitely relate to NOT being as compassionate with myself as I am with others or as compassionate with myself as God is with me. Thanks for sharing about this one, Trudy. I’ll be on the lookout for it.

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    1. Yes, it is an amazing book, Lisa. It’s mind-boggling how trauma settles into parts of our brains and our bodies remember even when we strive to forget. I’m awed by how God designed our complex brains! May God give us grace to give ourselves more of the compassion God gives to us and we are with others!

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