“Try Softer,” the debut release from Christian therapist Aundi Kolber, is a gift for those of us who have run ourselves ragged chasing the mirage of self-sufficiency, who view our personal struggles as weaknesses that must be vanquished through motivation, determination and discipline. Throughout the book, Kolber likens these unrelenting tendencies to “white knuckling” through life. Instead of leaving us feeling victorious, white knuckling leaves us overworked, overwhelmed and flat-out exhausted. “In a world that tells us to try harder,” the back cover reads, “it’s time to try softer.”
Kolber deftly balances neuroscience, cognitive psychology and faith throughout the 10 chapters of “Try Softer,” providing fascinating insight into our biological response to trauma of all types. People who feel “stuck” in life will benefit from the information on how trauma impacts our brains and the strategies Kolber provides to move us out of survival mode (fight, flight, fawn or freeze) in order to find peace and connection. She also delves into the destructive effects of broken attachment styles, the importance of boundaries, and the tactics we can implement to stay within our window of tolerance. Through it all, Kolber harvests the fruit that’s come in the years after her own traumatic upbringing and early career struggles, filling the pages of “Try Softer” with encouragement and plenty of hard-won wisdom.
This all may sound like heavy material, but “Try Softer” is an eminently accessible read, a pressure-release valve in a culture that subtly heaps toxic shame onto anyone who falls short of its unrealistic expectations. Throughout the book, Kolber describes trying softer as “sacred work.” If you’ve been fruitlessly following the “try harder” gospel, you will likely agree.
This book is recommended by Rebecca Ryder, MA, NCC, LPCC-S, Encompass Assistant Regional Program Director.