To appreciate The Heart of the Matter: A Workbook and Guide to Finding Your Way Back to Self-Love is to understand what it’s not: a memoir, study of psychological issues, or clinical, therapeutic tome. It is, instead, an interactive workbook based on spiritual author Joffre McClung’s self-discoveries, which began when her best friend was dying of cancer and culminated in her first book, written to heal from her devastating loss, How Learning to Say Goodbye Taught Me How to Live (A Spiritual Memoir).
The most important relationship you will ever have, the author explains, is with yourself. And, she notes, self-love is about much more than treating yourself to a spa day or a shopping spree. It’s about forgiveness, compassion and valuing one’s self.
McClung uses strong, concise writing in short chapters, followed by questions, meditation exercises, final thoughts, and homework that can lead readers down their own paths. While the brevity may leave some wanting more, it’s ideal for those who enjoy quick, enriching reads.
Readers who don’t care for New Age talk may feel a bit squeamish with the book’s references to the Higher Self, physical body and wounded “orphans” as separate entities with which to communicate during meditation. And McClung’s instructions for digging deep into the past are not easy. There is no quick fix, after all, for a broken sense of self.
Particularly enlightening is the author’s exploration of “shadow work”— defined as “the process of owning the emotions, beliefs and behaviors you have…often unwittingly projected onto other people.” And the chapter about “safety nets” such as judgment, control and the need to be right, which supposedly help us feel safe, will hit home for many.
You don’t have to be deeply scarred from childhood hurts to benefit from The Heart of the Matter. Anyone who needs to let go—of self-criticism, negative attitudes, and despair—will feel as if they are getting a virtual hug through McClung’s gentle prose.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.