Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Easy Does It.

I was raised in a family that celebrated hard work, sustained effort, and strong opinions. I learned that I had better accomplish whatever it was that was expected of me, or I'd suffer the consequences, and they were going to be brutal and painful. I learned to work until I dropped, and to never, ever, give up. I learned to have "the courage of my convictions" and to "argue my corner" ceaselessly, or I would be seen as a weakling, and you did not want to be seen as a weakling in my family.

I was a prime candidate for the insanity that is co-dependence. I believed it was my own efforts that were lacking - if I just took a deep breath and resumed my exertions: found a new way to approach the problem: I would eventually succeed, the alcoholic would quit drinking, and we could live happily ever after. Part of the reason I was so wound up in this madness, was that my self-image was directly tied to my success or failure. I believed that his continued using declared to the outside world that I was failing - I was not enough, and that was why he sought solace in drink.

I recall my ex saying to me, after a marathon argument, "You never give up, do you?" At the time, I was proud - now it makes me wince.
The first time this Slogan was the topic of a meeting, I was completely confused - were these women suggesting that I back away from a conflict, or not rush to address a problem, that I not try? I was talking to my sponsor about it later that evening, going on and on, and she interrupted me to ask: "Where has all your effort brought you?"
I looked at her for a moment, then said, laughing, "To my knees. To Al-Anon."

Easy Does It doesn't mean I don't fufill my obligations, or even that I don't make an effort. It means that I don't put my head down and blindly charge at a problem, trying to force my way through. I don't batter and pound at it with words, believing that if I just found the right ones, I'd attain the solution I seek.

When I'm working this Slogan, I take a step back, instead of a step towards. I relax my grip, instead of holding on so tightly that my hands are cramping. I allow life to unfold on life's terms, because it's going to anyway, whether I fight it, or practise Easy Does It.

So with this Slogan, I am giving myself a much-needed respite and rest. I am allowing myself to acknowledge that much of what happens is beyond my control, and I'm ok with that. I don't have to love it or even like it, to be ok with that reality: it is what it is.

From: Courage to Change, page 200:

"We often come to Al-Anon with the philosphy that if something works, it will work even better and faster if we try harder. But Al-Anon involves a long-term process of growth and change. Our efforts to speed up this process are more likely to interfere with it, leaving us frustrated and depressed. In Al-Anon, we learn that "Easy Does It." The work often gets done when we stop pushing."


  1. Easy Does It. That slogan reminds me to take a deep breath, trust God, and remember that I am not in control. I never was (as I now know) and never shall be. God is.

    Great blog. Thanks,

  2. I have always liked this slogan. It's a good one to remember when I am trying to do too much and push too hard on someone else.

  3. i know this post is old, i found it via googling "easy does it."

    i've always been a hound for answers and barreling through problems, even if it meant i got to the "finish line" by digging my nails in the dirt and dragging. today - my third day back in recovery and practicing my program - was a prime example. tried to force myself to feel feelings (to conquer them forevarrr) and poured over literature and websites looking for answers.

    only when i was too exhausted and depressed to keep trying did i realize that trying to hard can be a fruitless effort...

    thanks for this wonderful post, stranger.