I mean that title.
Do you find yourself at times gritting your teeth and thinking that no one understands how really hard you are trying to keep it together, maintain equilibrium, balance emotions and remain functional in the tidal wave of overwhelm?
Aundi Kolber is a licensed professional counselor who gets it because she has struggled with the same. And in Try Softer, Aundi guides her readers through both the physical and spiritual aspects of why this happens and how we can learn to grow into better ways. And by better, I mean not just surviving life but thriving.
When I was offered the chance to read this book for our Women’s Ministry book club selection this summer, I misunderstood and assumed the book was about taming the temper and critical spirit and using softer approaches with others. As in….”why don’t you try being softer with other people?”
Instead I found that it is for me that a gentler hand is needed. Using Scripture and combining it with techniques gleaned from the study of the mind and emotions, the book offers ways to not only cope but grow in understanding the role that our emotions is supposed to play and how we can be overrun by them.
Throughout the book there are exercises to practice, charts that help identify and name what is going on when we are feeling overwhelmed (or have flat-lined as an avoidance technique). One chart I found particularly helpful identifies the six common “feelings” categories shared across cultures.
Under each one is a list of sixteen gradations…levels of that feeling.
So for instance, under happy you have everything from “upbeat” to “exhilirated.” And guess what?
I am comfortable with being upbeat and in fact would love to live in that plane of existence. But the thought of being “exhilarated” scares the bejeebers out of me. Why? I don’t know. Something in me associates exhilarated with out of control. A scary place.
And this is where her material regarding learning about our “window of tolerance” comes into play. We all have a place where we are okay and can function, but as we start to step outside the window, our bodies will exhibit stress signs. As we begin to recognize the signals (for me an increased heart rate and difficulty focusing and breathing would be signals), we can begin to notice when we are being pushed past what we can handle.
That doesn’t mean the goal is that we are living in the narrows of what we can handle, but as we learn to recognize the signs of this in our bodies, we can use techniques that involve body, mind and spirit to manage that abundant life we have been promised. In my example, when the opportunity for something that might prove exhilarating presents itself….let’s say an invitation to go zip-lining, I can use the exercises that ground me in present reality and not immediately jump to a panic attack just because someone suggested we could do that.
Another thing I learned from the chart is that often we are experiencing more than one feeling. Recently I was struggling with what I thought was anger, but as I looked at the chart I realized I was feeling both angry and sad. I felt I had been wronged, but the circumstances involved people I should be able to trust and this saddened me.
As I processed that I was not only angry but also deeply disappointed, I could allow God to minister to that place of hurt and release the anger as I experienced His love and care. I was also able to remember then that He loves the ones who had inflicted the offense and to process that the intent of the situation was not targeted at me personally.
Identifying and then processing what was going on brought it into proper perspective.
This was huge for me.
If any of this resonates with you, I highly recommend reading the book and using it as a work book for growth.
Here is the link: