I can’t recall how far I was into my recovery when I stumbled upon the question. Was I a year off? Two? Three? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I did find the question and used it. I use it still, every day, all day. It’s a very simple question. So simple that you might roll your eyes and dismiss it. But I hope you won’t. I hope you will use this question every day, just as I do, for it is almost magic. No, it won’t pull a rabbit out of a hat. But, it WILL send a gentle invitation to your autonomic nervous system to shift out of the sympathetic/dorsal vagal state called protect and into the ventral vagal state called connect. That’s where we want to operate our lives—in the connect state. For it is there that scientists say our bodies rest, digest, and renew. It is where deep healing can take place. It is where we think, feel, and behave at our finest.
It’s easy to get a feel of ventral vagal energy. Place a hand over your heart and a hand over your stomach. Next, think back to when you were safe, happy, maybe even cozy and warm. Can you picture it in your mind? What were you doing? Were you with anyone? What did you see? What did you hear? Try to imagine as many details about that moment as you can. Hold that image in your mind’s eye while you do a quick scan of your body. Where in your body do you feel the energy that the memory brings? What does it feel like? It’s this energy, this goodness, that we want in our lives. Of course, it’s hard to experience that energy when we are in benzo withdrawal because our nervous system is so hyper-excited. It’s operating primarily from the protect state. However, we can do our best to invite ventral vagal energy into our daily lives.
That is why the question is so important. It helps us choose the thought, feeling, or action that can help us shift away from the protect state and towards the connect state. And the great thing about the question is that you can use it anytime, anywhere It is always with you,
“What is the most loving thing to think, feel, or do?” That’s it. That’s the question. It’s simple but mighty. I use it all the time to help me avoid festering in resentments, passing judgment on people, beating myself up with overachieving or perfectionism, eating vegan junk food, etc. I use it to navigate away from the thoughts, feelings, and actions that will put me or keep me in the protect state of fight, flight, or freeze.
My thoughts and emotions may not change instantly with the answers to the questions, but they eventually catch up to my intentions of living a life of love, kindness, and compassion. In other words, living life guided by ventral vagal energy keeps me happy and healthy, and hopefully, helps others be the same.
You can use the question, “What’s the most loving thing to think, feel, or do?” anytime you are scared, sad, overwhelmed, angry, etc. Some answers to the question may be: “I can forgive.” “I know I am safe,” “I will take a gentle walk.” “I will practice acceptance.” “I will ask for help.” “I will slow down my breathing and focus on being in the present moment.” Put into action your answer to the best of your ability.
You’re doing yourself a great favor when you choose to love, for love is the most potent medicine in the universe, the most powerful force there is. I hope you will choose it every day, all day.