What Is Step 3?
"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."
What Is the Purpose of This Step?
This step helps shift your mindset from thinking about concepts to carrying them out. It opens the door to conforming your will to that of your higher power's.
What Is the Third Step Prayer?
Once they have identified their higher power, many people in the AA program begin to use the Serenity Prayer to ask their higher power for guidance:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Thy will, not mine, be done.
How Do You Complete This Step?
Step 3 is the first step that requires action. The first two steps focus on reflection and introspection.
To achieve full recovery through Alcoholics Anonymous, you must take your faith one step further and create a plan for letting in a higher power.
What Are Some Tips for Completing This Step?
- Embrace complete dependence on a higher power and view this dependence as a form of strength.
- Recite the Serenity Prayer during times of emotional distress or indecision.
- Make a commitment to turn yourself over to something greater than yourself. Your higher power can be God, nature, the AA community-whatever feels right to you.
What Are Some Myths About Step 3?
- If you depend on a higher power, you will lose your individuality. On the contrary, turning your will over to a higher power leads to true independence of the spirit. As you practice being conscious of a higher power, it will gradually turn from a hunch or occasional inspiration to an active, working part of your mind.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. (1981). New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services. Available at: www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_step3.pdf
Perspectives on Step 3
By Dominica A.
Some of my decisions in life led me to misery.
Self-will and acting on addiction leads me to experience struggle. For this reason, Step 3 is so important to me, as making a firm decision to turn my will over to my Higher Power invites the kind of Power that leads me out of bondage and into freedom.
This step gives me the opportunity to surrender my will and my life over to my Higher Power. It allows me to feel peace knowing that I don't have to do it alone anymore!
I try to remember Step 3 daily, because if I don't, sometimes I'll get back into self-will and end up in trouble. So when my emotions are off or I find myself fighting immense urges to drink, run, or escape, I get quiet with myself and do a mental scan of the first three steps. I ask myself if I've forgotten how powerless I am on my own. Have I turned my will and my life over to God that day? Have I really turned over the pain, fear, grief, or anger over to my God?
My Inner Journey With Step 3
I was willing to be open and explore my spiritual path. I tried for many years to find some sort of relief, peace, and joy through external dependence. I thought if I had more money, friends, love, toys, or status I'd be happier. I also thought things like booze would help me out with that.
Wrong. None of that did anything for me spiritually. I was left feeling pretty empty and alone. But when I stepped into recovery and made a decision to give my life over to something greater than myself, I began this inner journey that put me on the road to true freedom and joy.
Once you put the booze or drugs down, you'll likely begin contending with emotions that you've stuffed. Wounds that have been numbed. Dreams that have been shattered. My emotional dam broke and a lifetime of stuffed emotions came flooding out.
I had no idea how to contend with them.
Let Go and Let God
"Let go and let God" is what many people talk about with Step 3. Try not to get tripped up on the "God" language. God can be a Higher Power of your choosing. When I get into self-will, I say, "God, I surrender. I give this to you right now. Take it because I don't want it. I trust you." Then, I do my best to let it go.
The more we give to our Higher Power, the more freedom and joy we are able to feel. Complete trust lets us relax and just be us—our amazing selves—and that is a beautiful thing.
Dominica A. has a love for the 12 steps, as working through them several times has helped her steer clear of addictions and grow personally and spiritually.
She is committed to living out the 12-step philosophy and sharing the message of hope to those still suffering in addiction—and to those in recovery as well.
Dominica has attended both Alcoholics Anonymous and Codependents Anonymous meetings over the years and appreciates the support she's received. She's got a deep-rooted passion for helping others heal emotional pain and trauma, as her own journey through love addiction has served as a catalyst for her own healing and transformation.