In Heal the Hurt: 20 Ways to Ease Emotional Suffering, Dr. Michael McGee offers a practical, compassionate framework for managing trauma and emotional distress.
Heal the Hurt is a 170-page self-help book that consists of three guiding principles and 20 subsequent practices for emotional healing. The book covers a wide variety of ways to approach dealing with distress and psychological trauma including, cultivating appreciation, processing pain, overcoming shame, and seeking professional treatment. Throughout the guide, McGee shares some of his own personal experiences with emotional suffering as a means to both illustrate the concepts that he explores and to communicate how each practice can be put to use. Rather than escaping emotional pain, Heal the Hurt advocates acknowledging and processing it and taking the proper steps to work through the experiences that have caused it. He champions that pain is a part of us, and that, rather than avoid it, we must develop the skills to manage it. McGee’s framework is simple and easy to put into practice. Before diving into his 20 practices for emotional healing, McGee situates his readers by establishing a three-part method of attending, appreciating, and acting with love, all from which his practices follow. From there, a chapter is dedicated to each individual practice. The book’s organization is as straightforward as its contents. Each one starts with context surrounding each practice, how it can impact your life, and what your life might look like without it; then, the chapter transitions into a list of exercises you can try to cultivate that practice. The standout feature of the book is its tone and the simplicity, transparency, and warmth with which McGee communicates his tactics. Despite his background, he doesn’t spend too much time focusing on the hard-science psychology of his recommendations. Appealing well to his target audience, McGee gives advice to ordinary people who are struggling, much like a therapist who has a more-than-professional stake in your personal wellbeing. The way he communicates his 20 practices — supported by his sometimes heartbreaking candidness — fosters a sense of intimacy with readers. A close read suggests that McGee makes a conscious choice to trade credibility and originality for trust and connection — making the prose in and of itself therapeutic on top of the practical advice itself. Heal the Hurt presents 20 simple, practical tips for dealing with emotional distress; in the unlikely instance that they don’t bring you comfort, McGee’s thoughtful prose will, at the very least, put a smile on your face.