A former therapist corrected me every time I used the word “try” in our sessions. By her measure, I wasn’t allowed to say “try,” “can’t,” “why,” or “fair.” While this may be a healthy practice to some degree, and it helped me become more aware of my defeatist vocabulary, I have concluded that these words are neither wrong nor should they be forbidden. By my measure, they are honest words that represent genuine feelings.
I understand where my therapist was coming from, though. She was attempting to promote actual movement in my healing process. If I’m trying to lose weight but sitting on the sofa all day long, I’ll never lose weight. If I’m trying to do the work of healing but avoid the feelings, I won’t gain ground. I do get it.
When someone you love is consumed with anxious thoughts or is spiraling from a fresh and traumatic wound, and they tell you, “I’m trying”, let’s celebrate the mess out of that!
“I’m SO proud of you for trying!”
“I know this is hard, but don’t stop trying.”
“Keep trying! Your tomorrow matters.”
Call me over-dramatic, but in many of our stories, trying could mean the difference between life and death. Trying might be what keeps us alive. While it’s true that at times we may need to try softer, at other times, we may need to be more active than the concept conveys; in my mind, not trying = dying.
Life has thrown me some curve balls, and I’ve sometimes caught myself admitting that I’m tired of trying. I’m neither proud of this nor am I ashamed of this. I’ve always been keenly self-aware but acknowledging and allowing myself to feel this awareness is something that didn't come naturally for most of my life. I’m not proud to say I’m tired, but it’s true. I’m also not ashamed to say I’m tired because it’s the truth. It’s my truth. A nugget of wisdom I paid a lot of money in therapy to learn that I can’t heal what I don’t feel. Feeling our feelings is exhausting. Healing from our wounds is wearying. But I can’t stop trying.
Trying is hard.
Trying is being willing.
Trying is courage.
If you ever feel inclined to celebrate the heck out of yours or someone else’s determination to get out of bed, to keep stumbling forward, to take one more breath, do it! Please do it! You’re trying! They’re trying.
Trying is worth it.
Trying is living!
As I approach my 55th birthday, I’m celebrating the heck out of the courage I’ve had to get out of bed each day, the will to stumble forward, the decision to take one more breath, and the tenacity to keep trying. ALL the confetti and streamers! YAY ME!
Are you tired of trying? I know it’s exhausting, and I know it’s hard, but we can encourage each another along the way. I hope and pray you will keep at it.
Keep trying softer, friend. You are worth it.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV
My beautiful and amazing friend, Aundi Kolber, has written a book, Try Softer. I highly recommend it and her companion study guide. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Aundi is a trauma-informed therapist who gives us the grace to embrace the word “try.” She also generously gives us the tools and wise counsel to try softer. Her message of trying softer is a breath of fresh air in our white-knuckled world.
“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.” ~Aundi