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I am so grateful to see more and more conversations (and BOOKS!) taking place in the faith community regarding mental health, trauma, therapy, etc. Try Softer fills a much-needed gap, and it does not disappoint! As someone who has dealt with the trauma of losing a child, who has spent over a decade as military spouse in a world at war, who has uncovered childhood trauma, and who has been on my own healing journey -- this book felt like a long-lost friend. It was like an open-door invitation into healing and hope with author Aundi Kolber standing there with her arms open wide ready to receive you gently. Ultimately, the author extends to us what our Heavenly Father offers. Kolber interweaves some of her own personal stories and struggles as well as those of her clients (she’s a therapist), but this book really differentiates itself by the wealth of clinical information and expertise Kolber shares. For someone who loves stories and loves information, this book has both!
This book really helped usher in God’s compassion and gentleness into my life and helped me relinquish areas of captivity by finding freedom and rest in “trying softer.” There are treasures in this book that have taken me over a decade to learn as well as new ones I’ve never before uncovered. Kolber’s knowledge, wisdom, relatability, and the inclusion of practical tools were immensely helpful. I have already returned to it a handful of times since finishing and will continue to use it as a resource in my own life.
If you’re a fan of Brene Brown (but want something more Christ-centerd), if you’re ready to do some “soul work” as I like to call it, if you’re tired from the exhaustion of striving, if you have a loud inner critic, I highly recommend you grab this and start reading. While I read through it quickly, you may want to move slowly through it if you’re new to some of the concepts Kolber writes about. She does an excellent job articulating and explaining the information but some areas by nature may weigh heavy on you. I think you’ll also find the reflective questions helpful in absorbing and finding transformation as you read like I did.
Thank you Aundi Kolber for sharing this work with the world! I know the world is going to be a better place as people learn to “try softer” after reading your book.
Here’s one of my favorite quotes:
“Every sorrow we’ve grieved, every fear we’ve felt, every trauma and all the pain we’ve lived through—it’s all valid, and it all matters. More significantly, the hard things that cracked us open have the potential to create space for deeper joy and resilience. As we try softer with ourselves by attending to and listening to our bodies and emotions, we become vast like the Grand Canyon, because our ability to hold the full experience of our humanity increases.”
After months of waiting, Try Softer is finally available to purchase and I cannot wait to tell you about this book. I’ll start with fully disclosing that I’ve known Aundi Kolber for several years through a writing group. However, that only lends to my desire to tell you that this is one of the most authentic books I’ve read in recent years I cannot emphasize enough how important Aundi’s Try Softer presentation is one everyone should consider.
In a time when PTSD is an overused catchphrase that people seem to self-diagnose themselves with, Aundi (a licensed therapist) brings clarity to how our past relationships inform how we learn to engage with people. Her tender reminder that difficult experiences don’t have to become trauma is so simple, and yet seems so opposite of what we hear and allow to occur in most situations.
Throughout Try Softer Aundi uses her personal story as well as those of clients to help the reader identify possible similar experiences. When we understand how our past informs our present we can begin the hard work of moving forward and changing the subconscious habits we’ve unintentionally established.
The best part of this book, in my opinion, is that Aundi incorporates her expertise as a therapist. She takes time to explain possible physical responses to situations we may experience. This is so important because for many of us we’ve learned to deal with conflict by NOT dealing with conflict. That is to say, we compartmentalize our responses in certain situations.
Aundi reminds us that God desires us to engage in relationship with him and others with our whole heart and provides the tools to help us to begin the journey to do so.
So, what exactly does it mean to “try softer”? You can learn more about that directly from Aundi here.
Who should read this book: Everyone who hopes to have healthy relationships.
What age is this appropriate for: The language is a bit complex. While Aundi is nothing but respectful, I think that the concepts may be harder for anyone under 16-18 to process well.
“Once we are out of survival mode, our bodies, minds, and spirits can finally bear to consider our stories and the reason we are so emotionally dysregulated.” — Try Softer
I just finished this book, and man, what a book. The words feel more than just informational for me — they feel relevant and personal as I spent a large portion of 2019 in therapy for extreme trauma. Aundi’s words are a good reminder that even though the last year of therapy has been really hard, the reason it’s been hard is because I’m no longer in survival mode and I can figure out what is happening. Learning to listen to my body and engage my pre-frontal cortex and make sure my whole brain is working. Sometimes this feels like a curse, because it requires that I think everything through, but it means that I am engaging my brain in a whole new way and reparenting myself.
Not only has Try Softer helped me see the value in my journey this far, it is helping me reframe some of my current frustrations about healing. I am able to thing about how I am reacting. My prefrontal cortex is paying attention! This is a new groove on the grass as I like to say.
My story is being honored in Aundi’s words.
I needed this book ten years ago but I wasn’t ready for it. I’m so thankful it exists now, and I hope and pray it will be for so many others what it is for me: helpful, loving, and validating. It combines research from respected trauma and resilience researchers with theology in a way that is smart and accessible. It is practical and soft in all the best ways.
So many of us fall into the trap of thinking that our lives can be better if we work harder, do more, fight the good fight, overcome at all costs. But Aundi's words gently encourage us to consider a radically different perspective: that the path of healing (and true strength) is one of gentleness, compassion, softness, and understanding. I would highly recommend this book for those seeking a life with more authenticity, healing, and purpose - and for those whose job it is to guide others along such a path.
This book is written powerfully and includes an invitation to thrive. The author has included some of her sessions with clients that illustrate practical methods to connect with their hearts, heads and bodies. Most interesting to read these stories as part of the total process.
She is a survivor of trauma and this aspect definitely aided her in 'healing others'... This book is written in two parts with the first one being 'Process of Becoming' and then Part 2 which is 'Practices to try the Softer Approach'. The reader will also be able to grasp the process more easily with illustrations throughout.
I learned more about my brain than I had ever known and the manner in which different parts interact with each other. One example is the 'limbic system' which I found most interesting.
A few key points for me included: 'what happened in you life matters, the concept of white-knuckling', setting boundaries, grounding, and top=down comfort'. The Benediction at the end was also powerful. The invitation to thrive also included 'be still' with the Hebrew word 'raphah' mentioned.
The most important point for me to read was the portion 'Big T or little t'....The analogy of a deep knife wound to a paper cut' is powerful..For me, I have had 3 Big T events in my later life and am eternally grateful for the counseling afforded me by the Veterans Administration...I can attest to the fact that the Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Treatment worked well for me.
The author asked what the most difficult part was for the reader and setting boundaries was for me initially. Now, many years later, after I have set boundaries it is that others don't respect them. So, that portion remains a 'work in progress'. So, I continue to state them with the hope that someday they will understand the reason I have set them.
This is a must read book for those that are looking for expert advice on personal growth. As she states 'personal growth is a journey, not an event'. One step at a time ...go at your own pace and feel comfortable in your journey.
Just excellent advice coupled with her perspectives on how to achieve living 'softer'. The inclusion of the verses from the Bible were also so uplifting to me.
My highest recommendation for this book...Will be recommending this to many others!
“Trying softer isn’t about knowing or doing the right thing; it’s about being gentle with ourselves in the face of pain that is keeping us stuck. Because no matter how hard we try, we can’t hate or shame ourselves into change. Only love can move us toward true growth. This is the love given to us by a gentle, kind, compassionate, good God—and the love we are invited to give ourselves too.”
I absolutely loved this book!! Therapist Aundi Kolber has a unique ability to pull matters of faith, trauma, parenting, self-compassion, psychology, and neuroscience together in a beautifully woven tapestry that demonstrates what it means to “try softer.” She explains relevant concepts like attachment and neuroscience thoroughly but clearly. She seamlessly links the journey of healing to our spiritual journey and relationship with God. I learned so much from reading this book and came away feeling encouraged and inspired. Highly recommend this to anyone who is working in earnest toward personal growth and healing!
If I had to choose one book to recommend to anyone wanting to heal and grow into a truer version of themselves, it would be Try Softer. I’ve felt such relief reading the book. It’s ok to be gentle and compassionate with myself. “ Trying softer is the path that leads to true connection and joy. It begins when we mindfully listen to what’s on the inside of us and let that influence how we look and act on the outside. It’s an intentional shift toward paying compassionate attention to our own experiences and needs. Learning to try softer is not a onetime event but a way we learn to be with ourselves.”
This is SUCH an incredible book. I truly believe it should be required reading for all believers. While there are tons of Christian books out there on "healing," most of them don't really help us change all that much. In my experience, they're usually a bunch of Bible verses and prayers wrapped together with some things that feel vaguely shaming, like if we were good Christians we wouldn't struggle because we'd be so grateful for what Jesus has done. But not this book. Instead, Aundi helps us learn how God designed our bodies and brains to deal with hard things that overwhelm us. Through the process, we discover we can't just white-knuckle our way to success, and that the path to healing and wholeness is counterintuitive, gentle, and full of compassion from God and ourselves.
Try Softer is something like The Body Keeps The Score, but much more accessible and written from a Christian perspective. Things like attachment theory, PTSD, trauma responses, and the parts of the brain and nervous system all show up alongside a theology full of love and compassion. This is an empowering, healing, encouraging book. If I could buy a copy for everyone I know, I would!
As a counselor in training, I found this book to be extremely beneficial as it addresses anxiety, trauma, and attachment related issues, as well as general stress and "try harder" mentality that impacts our clients' and our own emotional and mental health. Aundi writes in a way that is both accessible and academic, while also integrating her own personal journey and Christian faith perspective. At the same time, I believe readers from various spiritual backgrounds would also find the book beneficial. While this book does not replace receiving professional counseling, Aundi invites the reader to explore the effects of both "big T" trauma and "little t" trauma and how to process that trauma to find joy and connection in life rather than living in a state of stress. She provides practical resources and story to walk alongside readers in learning how to trade stress for rest and to discover their beloved-ness in mind, body, and soul.