Easy (not Ego) Does It

By November 5, 2022July 31st, 2023Recovery
Easy (not Ego) Does It

Ego is A Bit Extra

The AA slogan Easy Does It is one of my favorites. For those of us used to the forceful, bombastic energies of life under addiction, the entire concept of ease-centered daily little actions can be utterly foreign at first.  

In essence, Easy Does It reminds us that most of the time, less is more. When it comes to the application of personal willpower to some situation we’re facing, that is almost certainly the case. 

If we’re feeling all fired up with an urgent desire to act, it’s a good idea to stop and check with Higher Power, because urgency and intensity might be a sign that it’s not God’s action we’re considering, but perhaps our ego’s. 

That’s because it’s a signature energy of ego, especially with addiction powering up the engine, to overdo things. Ego is, as the young folks say, “a bit extra”.  

Have A Lighter Hand

In normal parlance, Easy Does It means have a light hand. Don’t push, don’t shoehorn. Don’t come at your recovery with mega intense energy. Try to be light, to relax. Approach with softness and ease. 

I had to be taught not to bang loudly and obnoxiously at my recovery, and to understand that recovery and psyche need sensitivity and lightness.

I was with my toddler nephew recently, trying to show him how to touch a guitar, since his go-to instinct was to pull at the strings, tweak the pegs and thump on it. I found myself saying “Easy, honey, easy, be soft, be gentle” and trying to show him what a feathery, light touch is. 

Some of us, like me, need to learn to how to touch our recovery like it’s a delicate, precious instrument which, if treated well, will help us make beauty in our lives.

Touch Your Recovery With a Feather

The late Chogyam Trungpa is credited with saying that when sitting in meditation, you should acknowledge your thoughts with the gentleness of a feather touching a bubble. This is a lovely image of the attitude to have towards recovery, too. 

Could we be that soft, that attuned, that patient and quiet as we orient ourselves towards healing? 

Easy Does It also tells us to focus on what feels easy enough that we can actually do it right now, versus getting all tied up in emotional knots about what’s momentarily unapproachable. 

Easy Accomplishes It

There are definitely times when we have to take courageous action, but on the other hand many of us have been trained to think that what works is pushing, insisting, powering through, overriding, and paddling upstream. Almost as though, if it doesn’t drain our vital forces, it’s not worth doing. 

In her book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron writes about Easy Does It and says that it also means quite literally, that “Easy accomplishes it”. Easy gets it done. We would get much further by daily, small acts than coming with enormous strain and effort to get it all done in one fell swoop.

Learning Not to Strain

I was programmed to believe that if I’m not straining, it means I’m not doing it right. If I’m not pushing it beyond what’s natural and comfortable, then maybe I’m lazy, not putting the work in. 

For some people, it is very important to learn how to be active, to choose, and to do, and to initiate. There is a role for that in recovery too, as many slogans reflect. This slogan is about understanding that sometimes, not doing is far better than doing. 

Why? In the past, most of our action was hijacked by ego and addiction, so that our will and our behavior did not serve God, or even us, but rather the rapacious addiction. 

So in recovery, we learn to be ginger in our doing, allowing more room for God to show us,  in that stiller, quieter way that God tends to speak.

Easy Does It, not Ego Does It

This shift in attitude, that it is not my job to wrestle life down to the ground, and defeat it once and for all, but rather to float in its larger womby pools knowing I’ll be taken care of no matter what, was an important change for me personally and something to return to each day. 

Certainly I can say that my life offers me many opportunities to see, once again, if I needed a refresher, that the slogan is Easy Does It, not Ego Does It


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