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“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over the care of God as we understood Him.”
The third step of the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is to make a decision about the higher power you acknowledged in step 2.
In this step, you turn your will over to your higher power. This step comes after learning and accepting that your life is unmanageable and that you have no control over restoring sanity. Only a higher power can restore you to sanity.
Step 3 is about giving up the power struggle and deciding to turn your will over to a higher power.
In this step, you open yourself up to faith, hope, and trust, and feel serenity. It’s about getting out of your way and allowing your higher power to begin working in your life.
The third step is about making a decision. It requires you to look at how staying committed to self-will means focusing on only your wants and not considering others.
It helps you understand how acting on your impulses leaves a path of destruction behind you.
This step also allows you to see how the way you were living caused you to lose touch with your higher power. It helps you understand and regain that connection.
In step 3 of AA’s 12-step program, you focus your attention on learning about your higher power’s will for you. You turn your life over to your higher power and turn away from your own will. The decision is made and it’s followed by action.
One of the most powerful tools AA participants use in this step is the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr. The Serenity Prayer states,
“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.”
This prayer helps AA participants accept the serenity that comes with understanding you cannot control other people, but you can control your reaction to a situation.
There might also be things in your own life that you can change, but you can decide to surrender and trust a higher power to help you with the things you cannot change or control.
In addition to the Serenity Prayer, step 3 includes a prayer of its own. The Third Step Prayer is as follows:
“God, I offer myself to Thee-
To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power,
Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!”
The first three steps of AA’s twelve step program focus on your higher power.
Some people are put off by the spiritual aspects of AA. Even the mention of the word “God” in AA literature makes some uncomfortable.
However, “higher power” doesn’t need to mean a specific god. Participants in AA are not required to accept anyone else’s definition or concept of God.
You are free to create your own idea of a higher power.
No. Many AA participants consider themselves agnostic or atheistic.
The program refers to a "higher power." Some call that higher power God, while others call it “the universe,” “a force,” or simply “higher power.”
An important part of working through step 3 is discovering the benefits of open-mindedness. You must open your mind to the possibility of a higher power. You must also accept that not everyone’s definition of a higher power must match your own.
Part of addiction recovery is accepting that spirituality is expansive and all-inclusive. It is also a necessary part of living a sober life.
Some people are reluctant to participate in AA because of the spiritual element. It’s important to remember that the program is a critical part of addiction treatment and long-term sobriety.
It doesn't matter if someone has no existing spiritual practice. Even people who do not consider themselves religious benefit from AA.
There are several questions you can ask yourself that will help you work through step 3, including:
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