The Hypothetical Attachment Mix Tape: Track 2 “The Heart of the Matter”

ShareHi Everybody!

One of the wonderful things about my job as a psychotherapist is that I learn from my clients all the time and they are always inspiring me and sharing great ideas for coping and resilience. This past week a client was talking about some ideas for fostering self-compassion.

She asked me, “do you know that song? It goes, Forgiveness….Forgiveness”? and she sang this little bit of the song’s chorus.

“Oh yeah! The Don Henley song!” I responded, recognizing the refrain.

She then told me she had started singing it to herself as a way to soften her inner critic, and asked me what I thought of this strategy. I told her I thought this was a great idea! Music can so powerfully provoke emotions and really prime us to feel things more deeply. After our session, I was curious about the song, so I went online to look it up. I was in highschool when it came out, and remember hearing the song on the radio and maybe seeing the video on MTV (Ha!) but hadn’t ever really considered the lyrics and their meaning. After listening to the song again, I think it’s another great candidate for my hypothetical Attachment-themed Mix Tape!

My reading of the song is that it’s about relationships on every level; the relationship with oneself, as my client smartly picked up on, relationships with friends and romantic partners both past and present, and the relationship we have to our common humanity. Here are the lyrics:

“The Heart Of The Matter”

I got the call today, I didn’t wanna hear
But I knew that it would come
An old true friend of ours was talkin’ on the phone
She said you found someone
And I thought of all the bad luck,
And the struggles we went through
And how I lost me and you lost you
What are these voices outside love’s open door
Make us throw off our contentment
And beg for something more?

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning again
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

These times are so uncertain
There’s a yearning undefined
…People filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age
The trust and self-assurance that can lead to happiness
They’re the very things we kill, I guess
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms
And the work I put between us,
Doesn’t keep me warm

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you, Baby
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But everything changes
And my friends seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

There are people in your life who’ve come and gone
They let you down and hurt your pride
Better put it all behind you; life goes on
You keep carrin’ that anger, it’ll eat you inside

I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
Because the flesh will get weak
And the ashes will scatter
So I’m thinkin’ about forgiveness
Forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

So, what is the heart of the matter? I’m sure there are a million ways to interpret this song! The way this song currently hits me is that the heart of the matter is that we are all in this life together trying to find as he says “the trust and self-assurance” we need to be happy and to have healthy relationships. Forgiveness is one way to start to find that trust and self-assurance. Forgiveness is a difficult thing, especially when we’ve been hurt deeply by someone we love. The message of the song seems to be that forgiveness is possible when we understand that people can hurt us, but we hurt them too and a way to soothe this hurt is to offer ourselves and others a deeper understanding of human vulnerability and fallibility.

And I think my client is right! Listening to this song is a great coping strategy! Just listening to the song brings up feelings of compassion and love.
Here’s a link to the song if you don’t know it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xezg3z5IE8I

What do you think about using music to help generate self-compassion?

Are there songs that you would recommend to promote acceptance and forgiveness?

Thanks for reading!


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