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

How Do You Feel? Back to the Basics of Feelings

I.AM.SAD. There… I admit it. Too often I tell myself that I have no right to be sad. I should be counting my blessings or keep looking for hope sightings. Some say we should be looking for the silver lining in this crisis instead of seeing all the bad in it. That worry or anxiety about what may happen indicates a lack of faith. But these sad feelings inside of me keep multiplying as I see more lives this crisis is hurting in one way or another.

I do believe God does have a plan for good for us, but if we have a turmoil of emotions inside of us, that doesn’t mean we have no faith. God knows our every feeling, He hurts with us, and He never condemns us for any of them.

God has created in each of us a complex brain with all kinds of emotions. Our emotional health is just as important to Him as our physical health is. Stuffing our feelings down inside us and not dealing with them can cause harm to ourselves and others, even unknowingly.

I was not planning to post today as I told God I can’t because too many feelings are overwhelming my mind and my heart. Then yesterday morning, I felt nudged to “get back to the basics of feelings.” I was reminded, too, of how so many years ago when I volunteered at a social service place for children, there was a big chart on the wall with all kinds of feelings on faces. If a child could identify with one of the faces, it would sometimes open the way for him/her to process the why and start talking about it.

I found another relevant resource to help us with feelings through this corona crisis. Denise Daniels has written First Aid for Feelings: A Workbook to Help Kids Cope During the Coronavirus Pandemic. You can download it in either English or Spanish.

Even adults can find help in the sound advice this workbook has to offer. Perhaps many of us need to “get back to the basics of feelings.” We can help children within our families and/or social circles learn to be smart about their feelings and help alleviate their emotional stress, but we have to start with ourselves, don’t we?

God reminded me I need to quit ignoring or stuffing my feelings. So I acknowledged this overwhelming sadness in me and wrote out some specifics of this pandemic that cause me to feel sad. Perhaps I should write specific lists for other feelings, too, like fear, worry, and anxiety.

Sometimes a mixture of emotions overwhelms me, and I can’t even figure out why, so I start to write to God about it. Then the feelings sometimes pour out and I start processing them as I am praying to our God who understands. As I sort out my mess of feelings with Jesus, I also remember He is a Savior who cares about each one. There is not one hurt we have that He hasn’t been through Himself on this earth. Not one tear, whether on our cheek or in our heart, escapes His notice and compassion.

“When Jesus saw Mary’s profound grief
and the moaning and weeping of her companions,
He was deeply moved by their pain
in His spirit and was intensely troubled.
Jesus: Where have you laid his body?
Jews: Come and see, Lord.
As they walked, Jesus wept.”
John 11:34-36 VOICE

P.S. Just as we sometimes need a doctor for physical ailments, we sometimes need a therapist to help us process our pain and emotions. There is no shame in that. Do you need further help?

Crisis Hotlines and Resources

Each of us is unique.
What works for one does not work for another.
What feelings are you experiencing today?
What helps you to acknowledge
them and work through them?

Tears Are a Language God Understands
by Heritage Singers

An Alarming Event and a Flurry of Emotions

whole-world-in-His-hands
Picture is Free Download from SaviorMachine. I added the words.

“The principal at the Harrisburg High School has been shot…” Words something like this penetrated my brain as I was writing in my office. My husband was watching a TV program in the living room when it was interrupted by this announcement.

My heart pounded as I joined him. Two of our grand-daughters go to that school. Our bodies tensed as we listened to the story unfold that a 16-year-old boy shot the principal. When we heard the boy was restrained and the students were all ok, we sighed with relief. Thank You, God, for their protection!

The story our grand-daughters heard was that the boy walked with a gun into the office and aimed at the principal’s chest, but the vice principal tackled him. The shot caused a flesh wound on the inside of the principal’s upper arm instead of a direct blow to his chest. The vice principal and an athletic director held the boy down until the police arrived.

We hear of these school shootings, many of them fatal, across the nation, and our hearts cringe and ache for the victims and their families and friends, but it gouges deeper into the heart when it is closer to home and loved ones were in the same school as the shooter. Somehow, many of us thought it would never happen in our own backyard. Harrisburg, SD, is a small town about 10 minutes south of Sioux Falls.

What possesses these teenagers to threaten and take lives of others? Yes, some say it’s all due to the sin that lies within us. But isn’t there something deeper happening in their hearts and lives? The boy’s father said his son has been more quiet this past year and is angry at everyone. Why? Did something trigger it? Apparently, the boy got in trouble at school on the Friday before and was to meet with the principal on the following Wednesday.

It’s scary and so devastating that teenagers, in reality still children, act out in this way. I can’t help but wonder why. I know that even teenagers are responsible for their actions and must give an account for the bad choices they make. But I still can’t help but wonder if something happened in their lives that turn them to such rage or mental instability to make right choices. I have heard also that a teenager’s brain is hyperactive at the impulse center but underdeveloped at the decision-making center. It’s so sad when it plays out like this. My over-analyzing character kicks into high gear at times like this. I can’t help but see that when children inflict such pain on others, they have some deep, hidden hurts that they don’t know how to deal with. So I pray for the shooters, too.

Some may think I’m protecting the guilty when I think this, but really not. I just can’t help looking past their actions into what lies in their hearts and lives. It just feels like there’s some deep pain, fear, or rejection in these teenagers’ hearts that boils to the surface in anger. What possesses their minds? Do they realize the pain they are inflicting on victims? Do they ever wish they could do that day over?

Of course, no matter how much pain there is, this never gives anyone the right to inflict pain on someone else. One of these troubled teen shooters can devastate so many lives. Lives lost and lives forever traumatized. Heart-wrenching losses of loved ones. Children who feel paralyzed with fear and never feel safe again. Family and friends who tremble every time they send their children to school. Nightmares. Returned bed-wetting. Storms of emotions. All victims and their families desperately need our love, support, and prayers.

Even though this shooting was not fatal as other shootings have been, it traumatizes students, teachers, and families. The students returned to school the next day as did the principal himself. But some students are scared. Am I safe? Will this happen again? I was happy to hear there are counselors in place to help students work through their fears and emotions.

I read an article that a group of students gathered together around the flagpole before school. They held hands and prayed. This warmed my heart, especially since this is a public school. The principal was on the news saying his deep prayers are with the shooter and his family. I feel grateful that mention of God is still allowed in the local news.

My heart still tenses or shudders to think of what could have happened to our precious grand-daughters and their fellow classmates. My mind races with “What if…” But I try to grapple those thoughts with thanking and praising God and praying even more for the protection of our loved ones and our youth in general.

This scary event awakens me to be more diligent in praying for children everywhere, not only my own loved ones. There are many days I forget to ask God to reach children everywhere and give them hope in Jesus. A friend who directs the Hopeline for troubled teens once told me that there is such an increasing number of teenagers today who call in because they’re ready to commit suicide. They feel so hopeless, unloved, and worthless. That’s so heart wrenching, isn’t it?

It tears my heart out to think of children and teens feeling this way. Behind the scenes and not always on the news, many suffer abuse in one way or another, often within their own family. Or bullying from their classmates. O God, please help!

A debilitating sadness and fear are battling with thankfulness and praise in my mind and heart. I feel like a torrent of tears is ready to crash through the dam of being strong and courageous. Why do I feel like I need to be strong? Why don’t I just sob it out? Why don’t I pour all this grief and fear for children in this world out to a precious Savior who invites all children to come to Him and who can work miracles in the hearts of anyone?

Let’s gather our hearts and prayers together for children, including teenagers, everywhere! Let’s remember to ask Jesus to bring more and more of them to be anchored in the only hope there is in Jesus. That their fears may be soothed, their cares unburdened to our Savior, their eyes opened to see their precious worth in the eyes of Jesus.

Jesus loves the little children

“Jesus Loves the Little Children”

Lord, please show
children everywhere
how precious they are
and give them hope in You.

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Linking up with: 

Holley – Coffee For Your Heart 

Jennifer – Tell His Story 

Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith