gradient blue graphic with cutout photo of Aundi Kolber, the book cover of Strong Like Water, and text that says Love Is Stronger Than Fear

S6 E20 | Strong Like Water with Aundi Kolber

Do you feel like you have to stay strong to survive? Aundi Kolber, a licensed professional counselor and author, talks with Amy Julia Becker about her latest book, Strong Like Water. They discuss how to:

  • become strong in new ways
  • receive and participate in healing
  • live with compassion towards ourselves and carry love in our bodies

Guest Bio:

“Aundi Kolber is a licensed professional counselor (MA, LPC) and author of the critically acclaimed Try Softer. She has received additional training in her specialization of trauma- and body-centered therapies and is passionate about the integration of faith and psychology. Aundi regularly speaks at local and national events, and she has appeared on podcasts such as The Lazy Genius with Kendra Adachi, Typology, Go and Tell Gals, and The Next Right Thing with Emily P. Freeman. As a survivor of trauma, Aundi brings hard-won knowledge about the work of change, the power of redemption, and the beauty of experiencing God with us in our pain.”

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Season 6 of the Love Is Stronger Than Fear podcast connects to themes in my latest book, To Be Made Well, which you can order here! Learn more about my writing and speaking at

*A transcript of this episode will be available within one business day on my website, and a video with closed captions will be available on my YouTube Channel.

Note: This transcript is autogenerated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

Aundi (5s):
People would view that survival sometimes that that would be like, they would view that as strength, but they wouldn’t view like healing as strength. They wouldn’t view their ability to feel their feelings that never had the opportunity to be felt as strong. They wouldn’t view asking for help as strong, they wouldn’t view listening to their bodies as strong lo I mean, I could go on and on on that category, right? So what I, for me, this title is really about saying, well, what if it’s all strong? And what if we had some better language to say, like how it’s strong and why it’s strong and, and, and to help us navigate how we use the strength.

Amy Julia (58s):
Hi friends. I’m Amy Julia Becker and this Is Love is Stronger Than Fear, a podcast about pursuing hope and healing in the midst of personal pain and social divisions. Before I tell you about today’s guest, I have an announcement. I wanna let you know that my book, small Talk, learning from My Children about What Matters Most was just released on audiobook. Small Talk is a spiritual memoir that I wrote a number of years ago about parenting little ones. And that includes Parenting Penny, who is our daughter with Down Syndrome. And at the time this book was written, she was a little girl with a disability. It’s about finding grace in the unexpected conversations that we have with our kids about forgiveness and love and miracles.

Amy Julia (1m 42s):
And Santa Claus and I had the chance to record this book a few months ago. I would love for you or the parents of small children in your life to have the encouragement of listening to it today. So you can find that wherever audio books are sold. Turning to the show, Aundi Kolber is my guest on today’s episode. Andy is a licensed professional counselor and author, and today we’re talking about her latest book, strong Like Water. That means we’re talking about how to become strong in new ways, how to receive and participate in healing, how to live with compassion toward ourselves, how to carry love in our bodies.

Amy Julia (2m 24s):
Even as I’m saying that right now, I want to return to that idea of carrying love in my body. I know how I feel when I carry fear or anger or discouragement or anxiety. I want to know equally well and return again and again to that place of carrying love and joy. So on that note, here’s our conversation. Well, I’m here today with counselor and author Aundi Kolber. Aundi, welcome. I’m so glad you’re here. Ah,

Aundi (2m 55s):
Thank you so much for having me.

Amy Julia (2m 58s):
Well, I am excited to talk about your new book, which is called Strong Like Water. And I will tell you, I was really drawn to the title of this book because a friend of mine, right before I found out about your book, had mentioned the way that water can both disrupt and help us grow. She was imagining kind of flood waters, right? That can really not just obviously flood things, but even get trees to be uprooted and almost destroy things and tear things out that need to be done. But they’re obviously, there’s this sense of water being cleansing and healing and really beautiful. So I don’t know all of the, I mean, your book gives some indication of what you were thinking when you came up with that title, but I thought maybe we could use the title as a way to introduce you as well as the book.

Amy Julia (3m 48s):
So I’d love for you to take that question wherever you want to, but as a means of introduction to your work and to this book that you’ve

Aundi (3m 54s):
Written. Yeah. Well, thank you so much. I’m glad to hear that you felt a resonance with that title. I also happen to love the title very much too. Yeah. I think in many ways I see that title as an intersection of so many things. Like, like there’s layers to it, you know? And one of the layers is absolutely even like what you mentioned, this, just this, just the reality that exists, that water is so many things, like in the sense that it can tear things down, it can build things up, it can essentially keep us alive. It can also potentially harm us, you know, kill, take our lives. Yeah.

Aundi (4m 36s):
It, you know, like from a biblical perspective, like the, you know, the metaphors of Jesus as the water of life, you know? Yeah. And yeah, but then there’s also like passing through water, right? Like that God will be with us as we pass through dangerous waters. And so for me, I think ultimately all of those things have been swirling in me for sure as I thought about this. Yeah. But truly where, what was the thing that brought that together is, is the fact that I think it’s, it’s, it’s definitely a combination of my own sense of wanting to have a bigger definition of strength because my own history and story is that I was always viewed as a really strong person.

Aundi (5m 24s):
But part of my story is that I am a survivor of complex trauma from my childhood. And so what people didn’t know completely is that that was in many ways all my coping skills. And so my coping skills looked really good, and those were called strong. And what was so hard about that is that it was very lonely to be perceived that strong and not really seen. And, and at the time, I mean, often people are just doing what they can too. Like they don’t always know what’s going on. So my own journey of healing, of being a therapist I specialize in working with trauma and like the nervous system in the body is that I, it’s like for years have had this gnawing sense of like, like this ambivalent with how we talk about strength.

Aundi (6m 14s):
Like simultaneously being like, wow, people go through some wild things and somehow some way they survive. And also people heal and people change. And it was like, as I would think about those things, and I would think about my clients that I work with or folks that I interact with on social media, what I would notice is that people would view that survival sometimes that that would be like, they would view that as strength, but they wouldn’t view like healing as strength. They wouldn’t view their ability to feel their feelings that never had the opportunity to be felt as strong.

Aundi (6m 56s):
They wouldn’t view asking for help as strong, they wouldn’t view listening to their bodies as strong lo I mean, I could go on and on on that category, right? So what I, for me, this title is really about saying, well, what if it’s all strong? Yeah. And what if we had some better language to say like how it’s strong and why it’s strong and, and, and to help us navigate how we use the strength. Because it’s like sometimes we truly need to, like, all that we can do is survive.

Aundi (7m 37s):
And I think that that’s the grace of God, that we have the capacity to survive. And in that same breath, I can say it’s also not sustainable to always be living from a place of survival, like in multiple ways. It’s not sustainable, not the least of which is that physiologically it’s not sustainable. And I think that’s where this expansive strength idea, I think on so many levels makes sense because it’s saying we are designed for more. And even when Jesus talks about fullness of life, w well, what does that mean? Right? That could it be, could it be more?

Aundi (8m 19s):
And so that’s, so to me, water is a beautiful metaphor of the ways that something can adapt in the ways that, you know, water can change, H two O can change from ice, which is so rigid, you know, all the way to a gas and it remains h2o. And even that, for me, it was just such a helpful metaphor as I thought about writing this book.

Amy Julia (8m 47s):
There is a lot I’d love to ask you about. And that’s the nice thing about a podcast. I get to ask you lots of questions, but the ne I guess what, where I’ll go next is actually towards the end of the book, you give a description of going back to high school and receiving an award and feeling really ambivalent because I think of that strength that you had exhibited in high school and thinking about the strength differently now. So rather than me narrate that story for listeners, could you just talk a little bit about why you were feeling that ambivalence and what happened in that experience of going back to high school in terms of, you know, it’s a little bit of, I guess, fleshing out what you just said about the different types of

Aundi (9m 26s):
Strengths. Yeah, yeah. Well, thanks for asking about that. Yeah. So in, I believe it was 2018, or maybe it was 2019, I’m trying to remember either way. I So

Amy Julia (9m 38s):
Pre pandemic Yeah,

Aundi (9m 39s):
Yeah. Pre pandemic. I was notified that I was gonna be inducted into my high school hall of fame because I remain the highest leading score from high school basketball. And so, you know, part of my story is, is that basketball was a really important part of the ways that, you know, I, I loved basketball and it gave me a channel to put a lot of intensity that I was not really allowed to feel anywhere else. Growing up in a pretty, like, I would say profoundly emotionally and psychologically abusive.

Aundi (10m 22s):
Particularly my father was extremely abusive. And so it’s really normal, right? When someone is violating your personhood to have emotion Yeah. About that, right? Like, that’s so normal. But oftentimes in traumatic dynamics, our body perceives it’s not safe to feel that here, because if I do, like if I rage back, what will that, what will happen? You know? And certainly there were ac there were times that that happened, but there was a lot in me, a lot of intensity that was not safe for me to process. Yeah. When, when really difficult things were happening. And so basketball was a way, like, I wouldn’t have named it this then, but it was like all of that anger and rage and passion and really tenacity I brought with me to sort of this basketball self.

Aundi (11m 18s):
And it sort of stoked this fire of like, I mean, I was a very hard worker. I mean, I just went out there like there was a fire in my belly. Like I just went after things and I’m in, in one way. Like I’m proud of that. But another way of that is there’s grief with that because that was the only, that was the only place that that could happen. And so it’s like I’m simultaneously grateful for that. And also sad, sad that that was the only place that I could honor it. And so what had happened for me as I continued to develop into adulthood is, you know, I had to set really firm boundaries with, with my dad to the point where I wasn’t able to have contact with him because he was so abusive.

Aundi (12m 8s):
And that allowed me to have some safety in some ways. But what also happened was that I began to fear my own intensity. Like I feared things that reminded me of having to be that intense, because in the past that had equaled danger. It had, it had equaled like it had equated to that survival energy. And that was scary Yeah. To feel, and particularly for women, right? Like women are socialized to be quiet and often small and you’re too much and you’re too loud.

Aundi (12m 52s):
And, you know, internally, like I had a warrior self who was like, I got some things to say, I wanna take up some space. You know? And so my, my journey has been to honor and listen and attend to that situa, what I would call situational strength. And over time, as it as I have the ability to provide the sort of the safety to myself, what is, and through community and other people, you know, my own therapist, like it’s definitely not just an in a solo experience, what can happen is our body, as we have enough safety, our body can metabolize the trauma that’s connected to those things that are also good.

Aundi (13m 46s):
Right? Like my fire was not the problem. Yeah. Right? What happened to me was the problem. Yeah. And so when my body had what it has needed to be able to metabolize that the trauma, the fire could remain. And so in a way that felt accessible and, and not as overwhelming more from a, from like a place of wholeness. And so when I, when I tell that story, and when we think about that story, part of what I had been in that process for some time, like, I had been doing that work and it was like going back to Oregon, going back to this place, which was the site where so much had happened and really like the, the, the way, you know, I was being honored for the way that I showed up that was attached right.

Aundi (14m 39s):
To so much trauma, right. It was like, I looked it in the eye, I looked that pain in the eye in a way that I really hadn’t had maybe the, the ch the chance or the capacity to, and I was able to see that young self with, from a different place, like of a place of honor, a place of really getting her, really getting her.

Amy Julia (15m 7s):
Yeah. I think I, I mean, cuz I, when I read that, I was really struck by it. I also had an experience in high school, very kind of almost the opposite. My stomach was paralyzed and so I was shutting down. I think because of having been taught that you can’t have feelings, especially ones that are perceived as negative. And so similarly when I think about kind of returning to the place where I went to high school, where I also was commended for many, many things, I was a very, you know, good student and I got lots of awards and I led lots of things and you know, and yet I feel very ambivalent about that because it seems like all those achievements, so to speak, came out of this place of wounding.

Amy Julia (15m 56s):
And yet I also look back and think, I mean it felt very similar even though it was not an athletic and kind of that same strength. The strength was not being demonstrated in the same way. But I have, as I’ve begun to heal as an adult from much of that time in high school, I can look back now and say, not only like you were doing the best you can, but also like how amazing that we are able to find ways to express some of that passionate intensity, even when it’s not safe to do that in the ways that we learn as an adult. Which I kind of, I guess I wanna back up a minute and ask you to speak about in the book you have some diagrams and some real exploration of three different types of strength that you’ve mentioned situational strength.

Amy Julia (16m 42s):
But could you just give us a little bit of that overview of those, you know, the three different types of strength and, and what those might look like in our lives?

Aundi (16m 51s):
Yeah, absolutely. Well thank you for sharing that. And yes. So in the book I call, you know, my attempt to describe the expansiveness of strength, I do it through what I call the flow of strength. And so the flow of strength, I imagine that, you know, on one side is that situational strength. So to just be a little bit more specific that it’s that situational strength is really what’s happening is that our body is truly perceiving that we are in such a significant, like we’re experiencing such a significant threat or that we are in what feels to us like a life or death situation.

Aundi (17m 34s):
And what happens is a part of our brain a really, the top parts of our brain, primarily the prefrontal cortex, it goes offline. And when that happens, so the blood flow is not going to the part of our brain that is really controlling our higher order thinking. It also means that all the other elements, like it’s in many ways it’s like our brain goes into a hyper efficiency mode. It’s like, it’s like survival. That’s it. So it’s, even though we have things like where maybe, you know, you’re like, oh, I’ve dealt with this in the past, or like, I can do hard thing, whatever your thi you know, all these things that you maybe experienced when we are in survival brain, we don’t have access to that.

Aundi (18m 20s):
And so truly it’s like our body goes to a default mode of truly like, what is it that is needed in this situation based off of what I’m perceiving that’s needed to survive. Hmm. So for folks who maybe don’t have a history of, of unresolved trauma, that’s gonna remain true. Like this is true for everybody. Like if you’re crossing the street and all of a sudden a car is zooming up and you like really quickly move out of the way, like that is, that’s situational strength. Like your body is without a conscious thought deciding, oh my gosh, we gotta get you out of the way.

Aundi (19m 0s):
Right? Yeah. But this gets more complicated when you are a person who’ve been in, who’s been in situations where there has not been resolved to the past trauma. So this is, you know, this can be true for sure, like in situations of like childhood trauma, but it can also be like in systems, it can happen also in your adulthood. It’s like our bodies store that information. And so, like in my story, if I learned that someone getting angry at me could potentially be dangerous, I that may move me to situational strength to over accommodate them, even though that situation in and of itself, maybe even from out an outward perspective, maybe wasn’t necessarily truly dangerous in the way that we think of it, but because my body has maybe was storing the information of what had happened to me in the past, that it was dangerous.

Aundi (20m 2s):
Yeah. We’re often reacting from that. So there’s a whole, you know, I I go into the nuances in the book and how this can play out. Yeah. But I think it’s just important to understand we need situational strength and this is a part of what it means to be human. We just can’t, it’s important that we do what we can not to live there and, and because it’s not sustainable. But then on that flow of strength, as our body perceives, we have enough safety, enough cues of safety. Part of what begins to happen is that our prefrontal cortex begins to come back online. And that is in direct proportion to the safety. Because like for example, with the car example, like when you perceive that the threat has passed, that’s a cue of safety and your body begins to be able to be like, oh wow, that was really close.

Aundi (20m 55s):
Oh my gosh, next time I need to like look both ways. And you know, so the rest of your brain starts to come back online and then your body’s like metabolizing what just happened. And then you kind of, you know, probably in like not too long, your body’s gonna move through that and that will be over. So, but when we talk about trans, like that transitional strength for, for folks who a lot of times I’m writing to in the book, what can happen is that it takes some time to, if, like, if you haven’t had a lot of safety in your life, oftentimes just getting to the point where we are able to connect with safety is a big first step.

Aundi (21m 36s):
And I go over that quite a bit in the book. But again, like sometimes that can just be a safe person. Sometimes it’s the environment that we’re in. And as our brain begins to come back online, part of what’s happening is that we’re able to observe what’s happening in our own body. And this is a really, like, this is what I I say is like, this is where the magic happens because this is where we begin to have some choice. So like, let’s say you come home and you know your partner is making dinner and you automatically start to get frustrated and then, you know, you notice that and you, I don’t know, do a grounding technique to be able to help yourself.

Aundi (22m 18s):
Like, wow, I’m getting frustrated quickly. It’s from that place where we can then be like, Hey, you know what? I’m realizing it’s been a really long day and I just need like five minutes before we touch base, right? Like how different that is when we can bring that awareness. So that’s where that transitional strength is sort of like a place of both. And we can be with the pain or the intensity or the old wounding in a way that’s sort of different than just reacting. And then as our body has, again, enough safety, we tap into the natural processes of our body that allow us to metabolize.

Aundi (23m 1s):
And as we do that, you know, that’s like feeling our feelings and that’s being able to, you know, maybe it’s like moving our body because we’re holding, you know, energy, whatever that might be, we will move towards that integrated strength. And the integrated strength is sort of the place. And that’s really what I’m describing in that book. The, the story from the book is that it’s a place of things are coming to completion. The thing that got activated has had the capacity to move all the way through our body so that there’s a sense of, there’s a sense of finished, there might be a sense of settledness, there might be a sense of like perspective that you didn’t have even in that transitional strength.

Aundi (23m 49s):
So, you know, I think the one other thing that I’ll just say about this whole flow is that for many people they might go along the flow of strength multiple times in a day. Hmm. And for someone who has a history of trauma, they might be spending more time in transitional or in situational and transitional partly because their body is still needing more safety and support before those experiences are able to bring to, to get to completion. And so, you know, I often say like, this is not like a finish line, it’s not finish line work. These are all needed, these are all important parts of what it means to be human.

Aundi (24m 31s):
And in many ways it’s more an indicator of the amount of safety and support that is present for us.

Amy Julia (24m 38s):
Well, and that does bring me to one of my questions, which is this was, you had a quotation from Gabo, safety is not the absence of threat, but the presence of connection. And you were talk, this is in a chapter called safety is the Magic Ingredient. But I’m thinking about people who perhaps are aware that they need healing, they need an ability to move from situational to transitional to integrated strength. Like they’re like, yes, I want the flow of strength in my own life. And yet there’s a sense of not being in a safe position from which to heal, right? I mean some people are in, I mean you’ve got literal war zones and things like that, but you’ve also got, you know, ongoing abusive family situations or patterns of, we can think of all sorts of patterns of toxic behavior and interactions.

Amy Julia (25m 29s):
And so I wonder how you think about finding safety, again, I’m thinking about this quotation, not the absence of threat, but the presence of connection. Yeah. So does, does being safe mean I need to know what does being safe mean? Yeah. And how do we get there if we aren’t sure whether or not we actually are safe? Yeah.

Aundi (25m 52s):
Well first I just wanna validate, you know, especially in the world that we live in, I mean the reality is if when we take the big view, when we take a wide view, there’s lots of situations that are unsafe. Like I would say, yeah, the world is not necessarily like, I would say the world isn’t safe. But what I will say is that I think we can build safety. Safety is something that we experience in the moment. Like safety isn’t based off of like remembering necessarily though that can help cultivate something in the present. And safety is not even about what will happen in the future. It’s about our moment to moment experience of the perception that we have what we need to navigate what’s in front of us.

Aundi (26m 44s):
Okay. And so I would say, I mean there’s a couple different elements to safety and I, I’ll touch on a couple. One I’ll say is that I’m particularly writing from a neurobiological perspective. And I think that’s important to understand because it’s like we could say there’s lots of things by various definition definitions, you could say this isn’t safe. But when our body has essentially like is picking up enough cues that we have enough support, that we have enough of what we need, we can stay integrated.

Aundi (27m 25s):
And when we can stay integrated, we have the capacity to face hardship in a way that is not available to us in survival mode. And so it’s not that we don’t want to address the things that makes the world unsafe, right? Like I would say that’s like a systemic view of how we address safety. And that certainly matters. But, but this is almost like flipping that on its head and saying if we get really, really small and particular, like we sort of need both. Like we kind of need to come from the top down, but we also need to go from the bottom up. And so my perspective is in a very like, very interpersonal perspective about like that for example, that quote with gabo safety is not the absence of threat, it’s the presence of connection.

Aundi (28m 20s):
What I love about that quote is that it has a truth that goes, I love things that are true in multiple ways. You could, you could probably see the theme, but so on one hand what that means is like, here’s an example. There has been some research that’s done, that’s been done where kiddos who are in war zones, when they are in the presence of a, of a caregiver that they have a secure attachment with, they are less likely to experience p s D from the experience. So what that tells me is not that we don’t want to be like, oh, it doesn’t matter they’ve got a secure attachment. You know, like, like, so it doesn’t matter that they’re in a war zone, but what it tells us is the power of Yeah.

Aundi (29m 6s):
Relational. Like essentially that’s co-regulation. And so when we are in the presence of another, or even honestly nature cuz we can co-regulate with nature or even with God. Yeah. What begins to happen is that our nervous system’s capacity, it grows. It’s sort of like, it, it almost, you could say it, maybe it doubles or it widens. And so when a a nervous system capacity is bigger, we are less likely to go right to that situational strength. So we’re staying integrated. And now what’s beautiful about that too is that when we have that, right, so we can think of that as a resource, that connection with a person who feels safe to us, what’s also happening is that we are internally connected.

Aundi (29m 53s):
So again, that gabo quote is also speaking to that. It’s that like for example, in our adulthood when we’ve had enough care and enough folks around us, we sort of carry that in us. And so we hold the internal connection to provide safety also maybe to parts of ourselves that are still in process. So it’s this very both and experience where you can see how these become the building blocks for then creating safety other places, creating safety in with two people.

Aundi (30m 34s):
But then what does it look like for that to begin to build into a family and then to begin to build into a community and then to be, to build those ways. And so it’s again, it’s, it’s not that there are not dangerous things that are present, it’s can we also give ourselves and give others as much as we’re able what they need to navigate the thing that feels threatening because that will allow us to move through it in a way that’s not possible with situational strength.

Amy Julia (31m 14s):
Yeah. So one of the things that’s lovely about your book is how you do at the end of each chapter say, okay, let’s actually think about what this might mean in your life. And you’re very careful not to say this is a prescriptive, all you have to do is ABC and you’re gonna, you know, check some boxes and be made well or something. But at the same time you give some really tangible, practical exercises for developing. I I love the way you just talked about that, that yeah, like there’s going to be danger in our lives and that’s gonna be true emotionally and relationally and sometimes physically. And that does not in and of itself mean that we cannot be healing and growing.

Amy Julia (31m 57s):
Although there may be times, of course when we need to literally just get out of the unsafe situation. Yes. So let’s be clear about that. And I guess could you give us one or two of those grounding practices of some of the ways in which you or, or your clients have been able to begin to develop more than situational strength to begin to expand that, you know, capacity for remaining present to ourselves and, you know, not having to, not having to just flee from it all. Yeah,

Aundi (32m 33s):
Yeah, absolutely. Well, one of the first things that I, so I, I do take this concept of safety very seriously. And, and again, there’s with lots of nuance to that, but part of why I always start with usually a grounding practice, and this is because basically we can’t access things that feel a little more complicated or a little bit more advanced or nuanced when we’re like out here, like our nervous system is like, I’m in it. You know what I mean? And so a lot of times, especially for folks, if this is new to you, this is going to be partly the practice of just even noticing like, like if you can catch yourself before you’re all the way out of situational strength, this is what’s, that’s when it’s like ideal.

Aundi (33m 26s):
But anytime that you’re like, oh, this feels like too much, that’s a sign, right? Like that’s a sign that you need a practice. So, so grounding is really, it’s the practice of using our five senses to come back into the immediacy of the moment. Because God willing, the, the present moment is safe. And like you said, there are times when the present moment isn’t safe. And in those moments, really our priority actually is then to, to figure out what you need to do to get to, to get to, to literal safety to get out of that situation. So that, so what I’m speaking about here is not situations so much that you are needing to like escape, but that you’re recognizing this is disproportionate to the moment.

Aundi (34m 14s):
So when we recognize that, you know, a great one that I love to share and there’s lots of ways to do this, but you know, just honestly, especially as we come, we’re coming up on summer to get outside and to use your five senses if it’s possible. Like take off your shoes and like stand in the grass, notice what it feels like to have your weight bear down on your feet. What does the texture of the grass feel like? What are you seeing around you? And, and as you do that, bring in the details. Like, this is not a checklist activity. The, the practice is the work. Like the noticing is the work that is the cue of safety.

Aundi (34m 55s):
So it’s like noticing what you’re seeing, noticing, can you smell anything? Can you hear anything? Is there anything that you’re tasting? Oftentimes I’ll say the more activated that you are, often the more time you may need to spend doing something like a grounding activity. Which is, again, I think what we know from nature is that it provides so much of a soothing sensory experience. And that’s why I like, if you can do, if you need to do this inside, that’s great, but honestly I find it to be the most effective if you can get outside. And so just doing something like this, I think oftentimes gives us enough cues to safety to where we’re able, that that prefrontal cortex begins to come online.

Aundi (35m 38s):
And we’re like, oh, wow, I can’t believe I just said that to my child. I, I’m realizing like, oh, I, okay, what happened for me at the grocery store was like, whoa, that was a little wild. You know, like, this is where oftentimes we haven’t even been really aware of, of what we’re doing. Cuz we’re sort of in like, we’re just in the mode of like, this is, this is kind of bonkers, you know? So as that’s beginning to happen, there’s gonna, it’s gonna look a little different, but one practice, well, I’ll, I’ll share two more practices. One is just basic self-compassion. And this may not feel accessible to everyone at first. So just want to, to say like, if you’re hearing this and you’re like, that’s really hard, give yourself grace.

Aundi (36m 24s):
Like that’s okay. But, but what you might consider is, you know, if someone in your life that you feel tenderly toward was really struggling, what might you say to them? And as you think about that, what do you notice in your body? Do you notice a softening? Do you notice words that come to your mind? Do you notice like a desire to be like, Hey, it’s okay, everybody has bad days. Like, it’s okay, sometimes we say things we don’t mean and, and yeah, like we need to make amends, but like, it’s okay, you know, I’m, I’m here with you. Right? When we think about that, taking a moment to notice what that feels like in our own body is a, is an important part of the practice.

Aundi (37m 7s):
And then if possible, could you visualize yourself next to that person that you’re encouraging and, and would it be possible to offer just a little bit of that compassion to yourself? And, and when you do, you know, what comes up for you?

Amy Julia (37m 26s):
Yeah, go ahead. I think you had one more you were gonna

Aundi (37m 30s):
Share. Yeah. And then I’ll, and then I’ll comment. No, that’s okay. Yeah. And then so, so that’s another one. And I, you know, I, I think for a lot of folks, self-compassion is not something that always happens right away. And that’s okay. And, but it’s just good to know that that’s a, that’s a possible route or, or a practice that’s available. And then the third practice is something that I coined, I call it art. And I, it came from a place of really believing that God is a master artist and we are art designed by this master artist. And so art stands for attune respond and tent. And attune is really, again, this is something that over time often deepens, but part of what we’re just doing is we’re bringing our attention to our body.

Aundi (38m 20s):
If it’s helpful, you can think of, like, sometimes I’ll say you can just picture like a red laser going over your body and what are you noticing? Like what sensations are there, is there an emotion that’s coming up? Is there an overall sense of what needs to happen? Because what we’re doing is we’re just looking for information and sometimes we don’t always have the words for what that means, and that’s okay. We’re just trusting that our body holds a lot of information and, and we will come to understand what that means as we do have a sense of what that means, that takes us to the next one and that’s respond. So a really basic example of this is like, you tune into yourself and you’re like, oh, I’m thirsty, and like, I’ve been thirsty for an hour.

Aundi (39m 6s):
Like a response to that is like, going to get something to drink because this things like this, they seem like basic, but you would be surprised how many people never got the opportunity to learn how to attune and respond to their own needs. And that last one is tending. And I think about that, like, okay, I’ve gone inward, I’ve responded to the needs that I’m aware of. And now I think of it almost like when I take my kids to the park, like they might go and play on the playground and I could even be talking to someone and I could keep an eye on them, but like I could still have a conversation with someone and, and that generally will work.

Aundi (39m 49s):
And I think that’s a little bit like what it’s like with our bodies. Once we’ve met those basic needs, we can just sort of like, we’re, we’re keeping an eye, but we have some more capacity to turn outward and say, okay, well what’s else is going on? Who else? Like what el what’s happening in the world? What’s, you know, we’re, we’re, so we’re tending, but we’re also aware of what’s happening outside of us too. And that cycle allows us to be, you know, to love people to be present also to others. And so that’s another practice folks might consider.

Amy Julia (40m 23s):
Thank you for all of those. And again, there are actually, there are even more in the book, and I’m thinking about the role of the body, which has come up a lot already in this conversation. My family, we are getting ready for a move and we’re actually moving back. My husband is the head of school at a boarding school and he and I both went to boarding school. So we are literally, he’s this summer going to be becoming the head of school at the place where we went to high school. So again, your book resonated for me because of that idea of like going back to high school and having ambivalent feelings about it, and I’m gonna go live there. So I’m, I’m really processing both this sense of like, excitement. And it’s great that we are, you know, my rational mind is able to tell me like, this is amazing.

Amy Julia (41m 7s):
It’s been 30 years, we’ve experienced so much growth and healing, how exciting to be able to go back to this place that had both wonderful and hard things and bring the healing we’ve experienced, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I have found that my right eye is twitching a lot. And so I have really learned in, you know, the last, I don’t know, decade, that when I have these even very subtle signs through my body to stop and say, okay, what do, what am I not paying attention to? Right? What am I not attuned to in the same way that I might not notice that I’m hungry or thirsty? I can pretty easily not notice that I am afraid or anxious, especially when my brain is telling me, you don’t need to be, it’s safe now.

Amy Julia (41m 53s):
I mean, and on some level, I my rash, but I need more than my rational brain to tell me that. Like, I need my heart. I need to go into God’s presence with that. And that’s what I’ve been learning. So every time my eye twitches, I’m like, oh, I am scared of the future. Like there’s some part of me that is afraid of what’s ahead and that’s okay, but I also don’t need to just like march along with a twitching eye, right? I can pause and, you know, bring various, in various ways, peace to my body, but also to my spirit and acknowledge that, yeah, some of this feels scary, but let’s think about what we’ve learned over these years and et cetera, et cetera.

Amy Julia (42m 36s):
I don’t need to go into all the details, but what I wanted to ask you was just to speak to the idea of the signals our body might give us that tells us like almost as a, like a starting point for healing, but also as I’m also thinking about completing the stress cycle. You write about this, which is kind of an end point for healing, right? So there’s like, I think there are ways in which our body may be triggers, like in a good way, signals a need. Like you need to pay attention to this, but also the way in which we need to bring our body and not just our thoughts into any sort of kind of healing process that we go through.

Amy Julia (43m 16s):
So I’d love to just hear your thoughts on that.

Aundi (43m 18s):
Yeah, yeah. Well thank you for sharing that. And I think that makes so much sense, like what you’re, what you’re naming about how that might be affecting you. And even that there’s the, I, you know, I hear the ambivalence even as you describe it in your body, the co like that there’s a cognitive acceptance and that there’s a maybe something deeper, right? That is below the cognitive, right? So if we think about the brain sort of from the bottom up that it’s, it is lower. And so I think that this is a great example of the ways our bodies speak to us. And I think it’s, I think it’s wonderful that you’re even noticing and e thank you.

Amy Julia (44m 3s):

Aundi (44m 4s):
It’s, it’s because I think, you know, I mean I’ve been with people and I can like, you know, there’s this, there’s this term that Daniel Dan Siegel has, and he says, n it’s called nervous system contagion. And this is the idea that our nervous system states can influence the states around us. And essentially if when we begin to have an awareness of that, if we can stay regulated, it can go the other way too, right? So if we’re, if we’re in the presence of someone who’s really anxious, it’s easy for their anxiety, we begin to feel that in our own body. If we can begin to notice we’re starting to feel anxious, we can stay grounded and we can’t control them, but we can at least stay with ourselves essentially.

Aundi (44m 46s):
So when I hear that, I, you know, it makes me think of folks I’ve been with, and I can feel the anxieties coming off their body. And I might say, I am, I’m wondering if you’re, I’m, I’m noticing that you may feel a little anxious right now, and they’ll say, I’m not anxious. I’m not anxious at all. Right? And they’re, you know, and I say that like, not in a critical way, but I think oftentimes like maybe the narrative that they have in their body is comp or in their mind is very different than what they’re experiencing in their body. And that disconnect, right? Like might be others might be experiencing them as anxious, but they themselves are not, they don’t have the awareness to recognize it.

Aundi (45m 30s):
And so even being able to say, oh, I’m noticing that my eye is twitching and I’m cur and it’s feeling like that might be connected to this, this upcoming move, e even in a small way, I want you to know that that’s a form of integration. That that awareness, what you are literally doing is bringing together that left hemisphere, that high left hemisphere that is narrating a cognitive reality with a probably like a low, right? You know, which is where our body sensations are sort of registered. And in many ways the goal of healing is integration. I mean, it’s, it’s shalom, it’s wholeness.

Aundi (46m 12s):
That is what healing essentially is. And so that doesn’t take away the twitch, right? But what, but I think it is a good first start because what you’re doing is you’re opening the conversation and then there’s I think a lot of different opportunities because once there’s connection, once there’s some integration, the conversation could look a lot of different ways. It might be something like to the part of yourself, you know, like sometimes I’ll have folks like clients, like if your, if your Twitch could say something to you, what would it say? What would it want to tell you? You know?

Aundi (46m 52s):
And they might speak on behalf of what’s happening in their body. And what we’re doing there again is it’s a form of integration, but it’s also a form of, there’s a se there’s a bit of a processing that’s happening, right? Like, like let’s just say that Twitch is like, well, I’m really, I’m really scared because this seems like it’s gonna be really hard, you know, I don’t wanna put words in your mouth. Yeah. Whatever that is. And then from that completing the stress cycle, there’s a lot of different ways, like that’s probably like a little bit of a, of a compassion based approach. If we’re going more from like, especially a body-centered approach, we might, you know, sometimes I’ll have clients like zoom in, like to the awareness of what they’re feeling in that part of their body.

Aundi (47m 38s):
And then I’ll say, if your body could make any movement it wanted to right now, what would it wanna do? How, how would you want to move? When you think about what that part of your eye is holding for you, is there a movement that would express something that wants to happen here? Because that’s sort of the theoretical idea behind completing the stress cycle. Is that similar to like situational strength? There’s a, there is a spark in our body. There is a, there is an intensity that wants to be discharged and, and essentially, like, especially somatic therapy essentially says, our body, we can help facilitate through the listening and awareness of the sensations, we can facilitate the discharge of the energy that hasn’t been able to move all the way through.

Aundi (48m 44s):
Right? Right. So whether this is for you or for someone listening, a lot of times, you know, this is not my phrase, but I I think it’s a beautiful sentiment like movement is medicine. Hmm. But it’s not just movement. Like I’m throwing paint against the wall. It’s like, if we can do those things, like first I’m getting grounded and then I’m listening, and then I’m, it’s like I’m queuing into that deep inner voice. What wants to happen here? Do I wanna slow walk? Do I need a dance party? Do I need to give myself permission to, to, you know, I know folks can’t see this, but like I’m starting to like sway, like there are different ways because this is, this is the way our body is designed to move energy through is in partnership with movement.

Aundi (49m 39s):
And so that would be my encouragement. I mean, I talk about some different elements within the book too, but, you know, I think being able to sort of compassionately attune and to sort of say, well, what do you need? What would that be like? Yeah. And we can experiment. It’s like, it doesn’t have to be like, I’m gonna try this one thing and if it doesn’t work, you know, it’s more like, well, I tried this and that wasn’t it, you know, I tried this, that felt a little bit better. You know, like, and this I think is that process of deepening the listening too. Hmm.

Amy Julia (50m 17s):
Thank you. I do love the permission, which some of us need to actually stop and just pay attention and to trust ourselves, right? To trust that if my body can signal that there’s something wrong, it also might be able to tell me what would make it right. Like that sense of what do you need right now? And, and even saying, and are you willing to honor your yourself and your own needs enough to experience that? There’s a place in the book where you write that we are invited to carry around in our bodies a love that does not disappoint us or put us to shame. And I thought that was a beautiful way to even speak to that sense of integrated healing that you, I think are really, you know, writing about throughout the book and talking about today where our, our personal selves, right, like our mind, our bodies, our spirits are integrated, which allows us to have a sense of integrated peace and connection with both God and the natural world and the people around us and our communities and our societies.

Amy Julia (51m 20s):
And so that does get back to that idea of the, of the shalom of God, of that wholeness and healing. So I thought I’d kind of land us in that place of this idea that we are invited to carry our, our around in our bodies a love that does not disappoint us or put us to shame. Is there anything that you would add just in terms of what it looks like to carry around that love to ha to do that in, in our bodies?

Aundi (51m 47s):
Yeah. Well I am glad that line resonated with you. I think that is probably, you know, one of the deep beliefs like values that undergirds the work that I do that, you know, like all of this work is, there’s like a mutuality and a reciprocity that exists within healing. And I think, you know, it’s like, it’s like everything that you named, like all these different ways in which shalom occurs that it’s not, we, like we in and of ourselves matter, but the nature of wholeness is that there’s an abundance and that there is like a, there is a sense of deeper connection.

Aundi (52m 32s):
And I love that because I mean, even neurobiologically, this is a reality like neurobiologically like the most, you know, secular of, you know, neuroscientists would agree that like integration is the work, right? And it’s like there’s, I love when truths are so true that they ring like a bell that they like, they just like, they extend outward. And so, yeah, I mean I think what I would just wanna say too to your listeners is like wherever you are on that journey of like that flow of strength wherever you begin, one, I think there’s lots of on-ramps, whether you’re spending lots of times in situational strength, there’s on-ramps to, to get into the flow.

Aundi (53m 17s):
If you’re spending more time already in transitional, that’s beautiful. What does that look like to honor that and to allow that god-given body to do the work that it’s designed to do, to bring that compassion and curiosity and that what really makes me so excited, you know, in the book I call it compassionate resourcing. And really that’s all these little, you know, we could call it, these are cues of safety, these are moments of goodness. These are the ways, these are the things that bring us towards integration. I think, you know, when you talk about that quote, it’s like those things are building the template that you speak of, like the love that does not disappoint every like, and, and we could talk about that from a faith perspective, but we could also just talk about it from a place of secure attachment.

Aundi (54m 9s):
Meaning this belief that people are like, there are some things that are bigger than pain, there are things that are bigger than trauma and that those leave a mark in us and on us in ways that pain and trauma never could.

Amy Julia (54m 29s):
Hmm. Thank you for that. And I think that is certainly, I mean, I’m thinking about the name of this podcast, love is stronger than Fear. And just that sense that especially for anyone who’s experienced that deep trauma or even, you know, even less deep trauma, shallow trauma, whatever that might mean, that probably doesn’t exist. But you know what I’m saying? Like I’m hearing

Aundi (54m 52s):
You. Yes, yes. You know, with

Amy Julia (54m 54s):
All experience things that cause fear and it’s easy to live in that place. And yet there’s also something incredibly healing and true to dig down into that deep love that’s even, I had a yoga teacher who at one point when I was un frustrated that I had more healing to do, she was like, you know, healing doesn’t stop until the love goes deeper than the wound. And I hear you saying something similar, just that sense of like, when we are being called to more healing, it is because we are being called to more love. Like, it’s like a, that’s where we land and that’s what we are invited into and invited to carry around with us. So thank you for the work that you’re doing to help us, to help us access that love that we can carry around with us at all times.

Amy Julia (55m 39s):

Aundi (55m 40s):
Absolutely. Thank you so much. This was just a wonderful conversation.

Amy Julia (55m 44s):
Well, thanks for being here. I’m really, really glad we got to talk today. Thanks as always, for listening to this episode of Love is Stronger Than Fear. Once again, I do wanna remind you to check out my book, small Talk on Audiobook. And also we rely on you to spread the word that’s actually true about the audiobook. It’s also true about this podcast and spreading that word happens every time you share this with a friend. If you give this podcast a rating or a review, it’s also helpful to me just for you to reach out to me and let you know what you’re thinking about these conversations.

Amy Julia (56m 26s):
I hear from some of you and I really love it. So thank you for that. My email is Amy Julia Becker writer I always wanna give thanks to Jake Hanson for editing this podcast to Amber Beery, my social media coordinator for producing the podcast. And finally, as you go into your day today, I hope and pray that you’ll carry with you the peace that comes from believing that love is stronger than fear.

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