Bring Back That Lovin’ Feelin’

How to heal fractured relationships and overcome the “compassion deficit.”

Posted Jul 01, 2020

Source: mohahmed_hassan/Pixabay

By most accounts, it would appear our society is challenged by divisiveness. Conflicts surrounding the pandemic, economic instability, social injustice, violence, political vitriol, healthcare, and even the national debt appear to be challenging the current vibrancy and future well-being of our society. Perhaps more so now than in the past 50 years, we find ourselves struggling with what I shall refer to as a “compassion deficit.”

“Compassion Deficit”

Compassion may be thought of as sympathy and caring for another human being. Compassion may even be thought of as a deep affection or even love, in the broadest sense, for another person. In 1964 the pop singing duo The Righteous Brothers (Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield) released the song entitled "You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'." The song was written by Phil Spector and was rated by BMI as the most-played song on radio and TV in the 20th century. The success of the song was no doubt related to the talent of the performers, the catchy melody, and the utilization of the now-famous “wall of sound” production technique. But I will also suggest that another reason for the success of the song was a composition of lyrics that resonated with the listener. As most of us will likely agree, the loss of love and compassion from our lives can be remarkably distressing. In the societal sense, the “compassion deficit” is a deficiency of respect, sympathy, caring, as well as “brotherly/sisterly love” for other human beings. It is not only distressing, it is disruptive if not toxic, personally as well as to society as a whole.

Source: sandala/Pixabay

“Bring Back That Lovin’ Feelin’"

The last two stanzas of "You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’" begin with pleas to “Bring back that lovin’ feelin’.“ So how do we bring back compassion, respect, and caring and heal the “compassion deficit?” Charles Darwin famously noted that societies that are sustained are societies that are cohesive, collaborative, and flexible. Here are some thoughts on where to start.

  1. Accept that everyone has their own “truth” and that it may be different than your “truth.”
  2. Rather than meet a differing opinion with defensiveness (or anger) as is often the case, meet a differing opinion with curiosity and a willingness to listen. Defensiveness builds walls of stress and anger. Listening tears down walls. By listening, you will always learn something, even if you do not agree.
  3. Build a relationship on what you share with another person rather than focus on how you are different.
  4. Relentlessly search for things upon which to agree.
  5. Find ways to grow stronger together. Find endeavors in which there can be mutually beneficial collaboration.

These recommendations may be useful in beginning to heal a wide variety of relationships: personal, occupational, and societal. But healing often requires the courage to change. Virginia Satir observed people usually prefer the certainty of misery to the misery of uncertainty. Futurist Alvin Toffler once noted that if we fail to read history we will relive it, but if we fail to change the future we will be destined to endure it. The choice is ours.

© 2020, George S. Everly, Jr., Ph.D.