A couple of months ago I came across a blog post from a popular life coach called “What would love do?” In it she describes how this question changed everything for her: Her work, her relationship, her struggle with her weight and self-esteem. She describes how she moved from forcing, manipulating and punishing herself to openness, flow and joy.
That question stuck with me and I started to ask it myself and also started to ask it in some of my classes. I even used it as a motto for a week-long silent vipassana retreat I recently taught. What would loving kindness do?
What would love do?
What would love do when I’ve worked all day but are not at the end of my list- are we ever? Love would close the computer, pat me on the shoulder, say “that was a long work day and you accomplished a lot”, and then send me off to hang with my kids, walk the dog or even have me put my feet up on the verandah and read my novel for a little while.
What would love do when I feel sad and overwhelmed and just want to finish the cheesecake that sits in the fridge? Love would allow me to turn towards my feelings and acknowledge that, yes, this sucks. And this is what sadness feels like, what overwhelm feels like. And maybe allowing compassion to arise. And then maybe not needing the cheesecake – or not all of it.
What would love do when I had a fight with a friend and was feeling hurt and very self-righteous? Love might make me sit down, acknowledge my hurt (with kindness!) and then, as I calm down maybe see that she had her point, too, or that she was badly triggered by what I did. I’ve been there, I know how that can blow off my lid, too. And then I might know what to do next.
What makes this question so powerful?
By love I mean the kind of loving attention that has my best interest at heart along with everybody else’s. A sometimes fierce, sometimes tender unconditional love that many of us have not experienced as children and maybe not even in adult life.
By love I mean the well of loving kindness and wisdom that resides in us and that we access more and more with our mindfulness and compassion practice.
“What would love do?” is not a question that we ask often. “What makes the most sense?” or “What makes me not stick out?” are much more common.
The question allows us to acknowledge that we do have a deeper knowledge to draw from and that we can pause – even if it’s just a split second – before we act and align with our intention and our values.
How to work with the question?
1. Whenever you feel tight or anxious or stuck bring gentle awareness to the fact (that you are tight, anxious or stuck).
2. Ask yourself the question “What would love (or loving kindness) do now?” Use the question not just from an analytical point of view but drop the question into your consciousness as if you would drop a pebble into a well. There might be a “first splash” answer, but wait for more answers as the question sinks deeper. It can be helpful to remember your bigger intention or your values. For example to not do harm or if in doubt, to be generous.
3. Often you’ll get the answer immediately. Sometimes it can take a while. Feel into it and see if it fits: You would feel a sense of release or more ease.
4. If possible – do it! And if that is not possible given the circumstances, acknowledge your inner wisdom that you know what to do and see if you can do this more often moving forward.
I invite you to share with us in the comments below:
- Have you ever used the question “What would love do?” – and what happened?
- Or what could you imagine to happen if you would draw from the inner wisdom and love more often?