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Try Softer: A Fresh Approach to Move Us out of Anxiety, Stress, and Survival Mode--and into a Life of Connection and Joy

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In the wise and soulful tradition of teachers like Shauna Niequist and Brene Brown, therapist Aundi Kolber debuts with Try Softer, helping us align our mind, body, and soul to live the life God created for us.

In a world that preaches a “try harder” gospel—just keep going, keep hustling, keep pretending we’re all fine—we’re left exhausted, overwhelmed, and so numb to our lives. If we’re honest, we’ve been overfunctioning for so long, we can’t even imagine another way. How else will things get done? How else will we survive?

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Aundi Kolber believes that we don’t have to white-knuckle our way through life. In her debut book, Try Softer, she’ll show us how God specifically designed our bodies and minds to work together to process our stories and work through obstacles. Through the latest psychology, practical clinical exercises, and her own personal story, Aundi equips and empowers us to connect us to our truest self and truly live. This is the “try softer” life.

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.

256 pages, Kindle Edition

Published January 7, 2020

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About the author

Aundi Kolber

4 books133 followers
Hi there, I’m Aundi.

Here are some things that might be helpful for you to know about me:

I am a deep thinker and deep feeler. Sometimes I get bored with small talk. I love stories, people, counseling, theology and my precious family. I find myself constantly amazed by God’s faithfulness in my life. I write, think, and chew on this often. I believe that Jesus is my ultimate hope and healer.

I am a licensed professional counselor in Castle Rock, CO and attended Denver Seminary for my graduate education. I am married to the love of my life and have a daughter and son who are the joy of my heart.

My work has been featured on Relevant, CT Women, The Huffington Post, The Mudroom, Happy Sonship and Circling the Story.

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5 stars
2,171 (56%)
4 stars
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3 stars
419 (10%)
2 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 551 reviews
Profile Image for Megan Byrd.
Author 3 books19 followers
December 20, 2019
This book feels like an in-depth therapy session from a knowledgeable counselor. The first part is informational, talking about parts of your brain and how they process trauma, overwhelming or uncomfortable situations, and triggers. It talks about our Window of Tolerance and the importance and benefit of boundaries. The second part contains exercises to help us connect with our bodies, brains, and emotions. They can help keep us in tune with ourselves and find growth and healing in our lives. I appreciated the wisdom and the vulnerability Aundi shares through her book. While I don’t personally have much trauma to deal with, I still found some helpful information and exercises in the book.
Profile Image for Arwin.
10 reviews
May 25, 2020
Rarely have I ever felt the tangible care and compassion of the author for the reader emanate through the pages as I experienced with Try Softer. That's the lasting impression that stayed with me even as I finished the final pages. I didn't know that I needed this book until I heard Aundi speak on a podcast. A lot of what she said about white knuckling through life, and coming from a broken home resonated deeply with my own experiences. I'd recommend this book to anyone who has experienced trauma or even for those who feel disconnected from their lived in experience (i.e. you feel like most days you're goal is just to make it through the week in one piece). Aundi herself is a licensed professional counselor who specializes in trauma and body-centered therapies.

The "Try Softer" approach shows a way to move forward by paying compassionate attention to yourself , while still honoring the scars that have made you the person that you are today. The first half of the book explores how and why we approach life in the way we do. The second half introduces practices and rhythms to "try softer", these include mindfulness practices, breath prayers, and ways to process through past traumatic experiences.

As other's have mentioned in their reviews, this felt like a therapy session in book form. Not that I'd ever felt the need to see a therapist but reading parts of the book felt like I was being listened to, and being handed tools that helped in processing through parts of my life that I'd convinced myself never to revisit. The tone Aundi uses is one of warmth and openness which is a welcome when threading on heavy subjects.

Initially, going through the reflections and exercises at the end of each chapter didn't really connect with me, and it felt even kooky to an extent (e.g. envision your body through your mind's eye, identify if there are any sensations when you focus on a particular memory). But I suspect much of that is due to my own logically wired inner voice. Eventually I came to be open to the idea that maybe these reflections can be helpful. And it definitely was once I silenced the inner skeptic.

The chapters that were more helpful to me were the ones on attachment theory, finding our window of tolerance, and especially the chapter on our inner critic. It's definitely written from a Christian perspective, but I'd imagine a lot of it would be helpful even to someone who doesn't hold to our beliefs. I for one am grateful to have come across this book. Honestly, this isn't the kind of book I'm normally inclined to pick up, but it just may be the most necessary book that I've read this year (subjective opinion of course).
Profile Image for Jonathan Puddle.
Author 4 books24 followers
January 14, 2020
Recently I had a day when I felt deeply unmotivated and tired. I wasn't depressed or anxious, just lacking the drive to do anything much other than watch TV.

In the past, I would have been unkind to myself on days like this. I would have pushed hard, knuckled down, ignored whatever my body and soul were trying to tell me, and forced myself to just get things done.

That day, however, I decided to be gentle to myself instead and I moved slowly, only working on those things that I felt enough natural push to get behind. By the end of the day I had tidied the house, watched some TV, prepared food for myself and the family, worked on a few odds and ends, and put away the Christmas decorations... which probably sounds like a full enough day anyway. But I did it slowly and gently, at a pace that felt kind to myself.

The next day, I felt full of motivation and drive once again. In the past, I might have analyzed this situation and said, "See? You just needed to push yourself and now you're fine." But the fact that I refused to push myself and still felt "normal" the next day betrayed that as a falsehood. Not only did I feel more "normal" the next day but I also felt grateful to myself rather than resentful.

When I speak of being gentle, I'm not talking about being lazy or slovenly, eating garbage and watching junk. I'm talking about listening to your body, soul and spirit, and treating yourself with enough love to give yourself what it is you need.

If your body, soul or spirit are pushing back against you, you may need to check into those things. Are you a wise and kind ruler of yourself, or are you a tyrant?

The process of how to get to know yourself, how to slow down, listen to body, soul and spirit and attune to the needs, fears, desires and traumas within, and start to move towards healing... is what Aundi Kolber's Try Softer is all about. It has literally changed my life and I am indebted to her. If you are a human being, you should consider getting this book and reading it for all its worth. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Profile Image for Carrie ReadingtoKnow.
377 reviews20 followers
March 11, 2021
Absolute game changer of a book. I'm most definitely still processing but I would say this book gave me more to think about relating to marriage, parenting and outside the house pressures. I am a Reformed Christian and that can frequently be defined as more "cold" and even really hard on one's self. It's hard to process life sometimes when you feel like you *should* be perfected far more rapidly than is actually possible.

This book helped explain emotions, brain function, processing skills in a super helpful, very attainable way. Definitely going down as one of my Top Reads of 2021 and I'd recommend it for a good think.
Profile Image for Allison Pickett.
321 reviews2 followers
January 17, 2023
Try Softer is filled to the brim with practical and gentle ways to learn about yourself, your relationships, and possibly trauma that affects how you relate to the world.
Aundi Kolber is a licensed professional counselor who knows the pain of past trauma. Her expertise on the subject lets us know we can trust her and her studies and research show us the science and psychology behind her approach.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is trying to move through the world in a healthier and more mindful way, or to anyone who has experienced pain or trauma and is searching for ways to heal.
Profile Image for Riley Hayford.
45 reviews1 follower
August 30, 2022
Alright. It is usually hard for me to get through “self-help” books. But after much encouragement from a dear friend, I went ahead and gave this book a try. The idea of trying softer, of paying compassionate attention, of honoring our stories… is changing how I view so many things. Rather than approach our emotions and stories with shame, negative self-talk, and white-knuckling, what does it look like to try… a little softer? To practice grace with ourselves, knowing we have received abundant grace already, and the more we give ourselves grace, the more readily available we are to give it to others.

This book gives actual, TANGIBLE tools to use. I bookmarked almost every chapter to go back to for when I need it. THANKS AUNDI!

“As a trauma informed therapist, I don’t consider stories to simply be abstract concepts or ethereal ideas, but instead the neurobiological framework through which we experience life-for better or for worse. Simply put, stories- or the compilation of events, emotions, sensations, ideas, and relationships we’ve experienced- are held in our minds and bodies, and they affect how we see the world.”

“God doesn’t always save us from the consequences of our actions. But He doesn’t celebrate our pain either. He doesn’t ask us to minimize or pretend it isn’t there. Instead, He offers His love and unending compassion as we walk through whatever we’re facing.”

God is a curator and keeper of stories. Psalm 56:8-9
Profile Image for Christine Indorf.
684 reviews110 followers
August 12, 2021
Finally got through with Try Softer. In life with keep going, keep pushing and when we are tired we pretend nothing is wrong. So comes in the Try Softer. God wants more for us. He wants us to come to him and not to have a crazy lives with the responsibilities of life over taken us to we are so overwhelmed that we can't function any longer. Aundi Kolber shows us how to have God peace in our lives and how to overcome the stress that life can give up. Now I felt this book a little technical for me, but I did really enjoy it and I did get a lot out of it. Christ wants more for us and I was reminded how much with this book. I recommend this book to everyone especially for those who are over stressed and don't know where to turn!!
Profile Image for Amy.
2,556 reviews398 followers
February 19, 2023
Much like when I read Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be, I think this might be more of a right-time-right-place reaction from me. I've been working through some big emotions recently and listening to a chapter of this book a day gave me some helpful techniques and ideas for exploring anxiety in my life and those around me.
That said...it sometimes felt about as theological as reading The Message or Jesus Calling. It offered words of grace and comfort that were needed in the moment. And to give it credit, it also provided some techniques that I might return to. But I also think I am going to forget it.
Profile Image for Erin Marshall.
Author 3 books140 followers
January 20, 2023
Insightful and practical read. I'm looking forward to her next book, Strong Like Water.
Profile Image for Heidi Goehmann.
Author 14 books54 followers
February 15, 2022
This is a gentle and helpful primer for Christians to become trauma-informed. With lots of exercises and ideas for personal growth and attunement, as well as bits of relevant research, I know I will recommend this especially to people who are looking to go deeper to understand their own mental health or that of someone they love but are perhaps not ready to commit to counseling and also those looking to change the stigma of mental health in the church. (PS - this book is not therapy, but it is so helpful when there are resources that help support the therapeutic process and our spiritual walk.)
Profile Image for KatieT.
2 reviews2 followers
October 3, 2022
Words I would use to describe this book: hopeful, practical, and kind.
This was just what I needed to read! I have learned so much from this book about my window of tolerance, how to process emotions, and how to grow in resilience. Andi shares some of her own story as well as practical ways to try softer. There are suggested exercises at the end of each chapter. She writes in such a kind, compassionate way, I came away from reading her book feeling hopeful and encouraged! Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Annie.
306 reviews4 followers
April 20, 2021
This book marries faith and modern day therapy strategies so well. She brings science and brain research into the faith space where often the church has encouraged us to just “pray more”. A great read!
Profile Image for Abigail Hamner.
32 reviews1 follower
February 27, 2023
For most readers, this book could be finished in a weekend. I, however, took FOREVER to finish it because I felt the need to commit a lot of the content to memory and really study the research and coping strategies presented by Aundi Kolber. This book was recommended to me (read: assigned to me) by my therapist and I found it wildly helpful.

It’s written for people who have been taught that emotions are weakness, even sinful, and that you need to bottle up your feelings and white-knuckle your way through life. This boom proposing that instead of continually telling ourselves to “try harder,” we “try softer.” Some sections are so meaty and chock-full of information you have to reread a few times to fully absorb all of the information, whereas other parts are VERY skimmable/skippable.

I would recommend this book if you are interested in learning more about:

- anxiety and its connection to our nervous system
- effects of trauma (however big or small)
- attachment styles (secure, anxious-ambivalent, avoidant, and disorganized attachment)
- unhealthy vs healthy boundaries learned in childhood
- grounding and mindfulness strategies
- a comprehensive list of feelings to help you “name it to tame it”
- God’s role in our anxiety, trauma, and healing
Profile Image for Damaris.
145 reviews32 followers
December 31, 2022
This is just an amazing book. As a counsellor, I have read many more books that go to great lengths to summarize what this book puts forth so beautifully in compassionate and accessible language. Written from a trauma-informed lens at the intersection of the Christian faith and mental health care, therapist Aundi Kolber graciously illustrates the importance of trying softer, of honouring our story and pain, and of living out of the grace Christ has extended to us. This is a book that is for everyone, and is such a great introduction to many therapeutic topics as well such as attachment styles, brain physiology and how this interacts with anxiety and trauma responses, psychoeducation on your window of tolerance, somatic and emotionally focused work, and so much more. I would recommend this to anyone looking to learn more about mental health, trauma and how faith intersects with these topics. I know I will be referencing this book plenty in the future.
August 30, 2022
Wow. This book has been life-changing! I’m so thankful my counselor recommended this book to me - I’ll definitely be unpacking the wisdom in this book for a long time. The idea of treating myself and my past experiences with gentleness and love is very unfamiliar to me. I’ve been living my life with a very harsh internal critic, and trying harder and harder to just survive or change my sinful habits. “Only love can move us toward true growth.” I’m excited to see the ways God grows me in the process of learning to try softer with my life experiences and emotions!
Profile Image for Annalise Nakoneczny.
610 reviews7 followers
November 18, 2022
I read this book at exactly the right time in my life. Kolber's argument for self-compassion and gentleness in mental health and resilience building is exactly what I needed. The exercises in this book are clear, gentle and sustainable-- meaning the reader can take them into any situation. The combination of Christian beliefs, psychology, and A&P is what I look for in potential therapists, and it's present in this book which is great. I've learned so much about my mind and my body and what they both need from me. I will be returning to this gentle, challenging resource for sure.
Profile Image for Ally.
126 reviews8 followers
March 23, 2021
This is probably the best book I've ever read in this genre. I wonder if it just feels like the right moment for me, or if everyone would feel this way. But I pretty much feel ready to start from the beginning and go through it again. Aundi tied together things I've learned over the years from podcasts, books, and therapy and introduced new insight into a very gentle but practical guide. It read like a memoir at times, like a therapy session at others. Highly, highly recommend.
Profile Image for Gabrielė Bužinskaitė.
174 reviews56 followers
November 6, 2022
“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.”
3 reviews1 follower
January 7, 2020
This book is a breath of fresh air in the world of pairing mindful practices, therapeutic reflection and Christian perspective. Aundi's approach is thoughtful, patient, gracious and also backed with a number of scientific realities of brain development and mind-body connection. This is not a book to be taken in one sip. As the title reads, you should read it "softer", taking the time to let your mind and your soul absorb what you need at the time. Don't push too fast.
While Aundi's expertise is in trauma informed perspectives, everyone will find valuable information for how to lessen their personal hustle and allow grace to lead the way. This is a good book for the general public of course, but, this is a GREAT book for therapists, particularly those who are seeking language to help them intersect mindfulness, trauma-informed approaches, and faith.
Profile Image for Gina Brenna.
Author 1 book27 followers
December 17, 2022
This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Aundi writes in such an authentic way as someone who has personally found her way to the gentleness she invites us to. She’s like a wilderness guide, speaking from experience but also with the authority she carries as a therapist. She offers so many helpful practices for growing in mindfulness and compassion toward ourselves. I have already found them incredibly beneficial as I walk through a stressful season. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t be blessed by this book.
Profile Image for Elise Moore.
3 reviews
September 15, 2022
This is a great introductory book for those who are interested in trauma work/healing past wounds/trying a new way to approach life. It feels like a great resource for anyone considering therapy but is still hesitant. The book is almost in a sense several therapy sessions. Aundi gives tangible tools, knowledge, and hope. She provides practices for the reader to engage in and even when seeking a therapist or trusted friend would be beneficial. I found her book refreshing and a resource I plan to use for my people!
1 review
March 20, 2020
For me, this was the perfect book at the perfect time. Such practical, loving advice backed up by science and enriched by scripture. I’m almost glad the library is closed, so I have lots of time to re-read, savor, and copy my favorite passages into my journal. If you struggle with self-criticism, dealing with difficult emotions, and self-compassion and want both a spiritual and scientific lens, this may also be the perfect book for you.
Profile Image for Laura Clawson.
91 reviews
May 4, 2022
Love the title. Love the idea of acknowledging limits, being gentle with oneself and slowing down. 10 stars to paying attention to the real world outside our heads. Lots of interesting parts about the brain and what happens when we're stressed out, in grief, or maxed out.

That being said, I don't think I'd recommend this title for someone looking to learn about the brain, recovery, or connection. Felt like the trademarked Christian Woman's Conference edition of Boundaries. 🤷🏼‍♀️
Profile Image for Sarah.
152 reviews
January 20, 2020
Incredibly powerful text about faith and white knuckling it. This work spoke to me deeply. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,001 reviews
November 30, 2022
Really loved this one. Very meaningful book for that masterfully weaved in mindfulness development and application.

Quotes and ideas to remember:

Dear Reader, there are 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 the pain, and ultimately life with more gentleness and resilience.
We feel weary not wise.

The work of boundaries begins with our bodies.

Safety in our bodies feels solid, responsive and aware.
Safety in our relationships feels like connection, vulnerability and trust.
Safety with God feels like connection, belonging and mystery.
Starting point to what safety feels like in my body.

Feel the pull to white-knuckle it when it comes to meeting other’s expectations.

Boundaries- creating a script
“Thanks so much for asking, but I’m not available.”
“Sorry, that won’t work for me.”
“I’m not comfortable with that. I think I’ll pass.”
“You can handle it however works best for you, but count me out.”

“You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.” - Pema Chodron

We were created to pay attention.

As we do our own internal work, we quite literally develop the capacity to listen to and love others more fully than before. We are deeply valuable and loved by God, and because of that we can rest in the fact that our needs matter.

Our own healing allows us to help others to heal, too.

Holding space for others is holy work.

Embodiment- noticing and attending to the sensations of your body.

At the door of Lazarus’ tomb, Jesus wept. He honored and entered into the present grief of his friends. He validated their humanity.

Grounding statements are affirmations and they help us move through emotions.

“Be excessively gentle with yourself.” - John O’Donahue

Surrender- feeling safe enough to release my grip
The moment we let go of needing to control the pain is precisely the moment we can move through rather than feel stuck in the pain.

The hard things that cracked us open have the potential to create space for deeper joy and resilience.

“I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.” - Mary Oliver
Abundant life (John 10:10) made up of awareness, beauty, presence, and connection. Resilience allows us to return to these essentials when life knocks us down.

Practices that can help us improve our vagal tone:
humming or singing, shaking out any part of the body that feels tense or needs activation, mind-body exercises, such as yoga or loving-kindness meditation, mind-body therapy, divers response, conscious breathing.

Where do you see opportunities to reframe something as feeling too hard into an opportunity for fun or adventure? Start small. Build your tolerance of emotion.
Connect to past experiences that were empowering. God has been with you and loved you every step of the way.

Serenity prayer- use to try softer.
1. Note areas of life you are pushing harder than you can control them.
2. Identify areas you can control- Is it worth my resources?
3. Areas you can control- how can I try softer, rather than white-knuckle
4. Notice how body feels

You were made with and for compassionate attention.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
327 reviews3 followers
March 21, 2021
Much food for thought in here. Among other things, I’m considering how mental health professionals basically speak a different dialect, or sub-dialect, full of specialized terms and buzzwords, and that it’s one that triggers my “inspect carefully” defenses.

She’s a good communicator. I like how she describes what emotional and mental health look like and talks through some ways to help you get there (with the “you might need your own therapist” disclaimer). I like the concept of “Window of Tolerance”—I think that’s helpful and useful.
Profile Image for Makayla Payne.
27 reviews3 followers
October 13, 2022
A really wonderful book. The premise is instead of white-knuckling and trying harder, to “try softer.” It’s backed by trauma-informed therapy and written in an incredibly holistic and accessible way. This book is as informative as it is comforting. I left each chapter aware of the compassion and gentleness of God, and with the knowledge of how to be more gentle with myself. I will definitely come back to this one.
Profile Image for Shelbi Starr.
189 reviews
March 19, 2021
I can’t give this book enough stars. In a world that tells us to “try harder!”, what if we instead tried softer? What if we were more gentle and compassionate toward ourselves? Can’t recommend this book enough.
Profile Image for Lori.
187 reviews
July 28, 2021
Really solid. Helpful ways to unravel and heal from, as she calls it, big T and little t trauma. Incredibly timely. I listened to this and am going to order a hard copy so I can easily review the techniques.
Profile Image for Anita Yoder.
Author 6 books45 followers
November 12, 2021
Excellent content, compassionate, sensitive, helpful. I love Aundi's manner of care and insight. I felt heard and seen as I read. Highly recommend for anyone weary of trying harder and ready to try softer instead.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 551 reviews

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