Step 3 of AA: To Turn Your Life Over to a Higher Power
When you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, asking for help may not even be in the picture. It takes a lot of courage and strength to admit that you need help, but asking for help is an entirely different concept.
To ask for help is to give up control and submit to something that isn’t always tangible. You can’t always be sure of this higher power, but you have to trust that it will show up for you.
If you’ve been able to come to terms with the first two steps of the 12-step program, step three should come as no surprise. Once you’ve admitted to your addiction and understood that a higher power can guide you to sobriety, the next step is commitment.
To see the results you want, you must turn your life over to a higher power and allow yourself to be free from things that are out of your control. Keep reading to learn more about step three and what it’s asking you to do!
Breaking Down the Language
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”
The first thing that may jump out to you when reading over the third step is the mention of God. When these steps were being written, the three men that started Alcoholics Anonymous sought sobriety under spirituality's guidance.
It does not require you to believe in God as your higher power, but once you’ve identified what that is for you, you can begin to be guided. During this step, you’ve decided you believe in your higher power and understand that it can help you succeed in your recovery.
You let go of the idea that everything has to be in your control and let outside forces help you along the way.
What Does It Mean To Turn Your Life Over?
Turning your life over is not like signing your life away. You are letting go of the control that you desire so that you can be free from the restraints of failure. Addiction is all-consuming and leads you to low self-esteem and a lack of confidence in your ability to save yourself.
You often feel like you are not in control of your addiction or how the rest of your life goes. This is about understanding that while you still control yourself, your addiction is currently overpowering your own strength and causing you to second-guess yourself.
To get the results you want, you need to accept the things that are out of your control. During this process, you will learn how to take control of things you can change and see how impactful that can be.
Maybe you can’t control your cravings or negative thoughts, but with time and work, you can learn different ways to change your frame of thinking and create different outcomes.
Who Is This Higher Power?
The higher power steps two and three refer to can be anything in the world that draws inspiration and motivation from you. Pick a person, a deity, an art form, or even a beloved pet for which you want to be better. You want to trust your higher power and accept that they can help you be your best version.
Use this entity you’ve chosen to help you believe that you don’t need to control everything for things to work out. You must let go of what you can’t change and know that your higher power is looking out for you and continuing to inspire you to progress.
Acting on Step Three
Once you’ve chosen your higher power and understand that there is more out there than meets the eye, you can begin to turn your life over to them. This is about releasing things you cannot control and learning what you can.
This step allows you to understand that not everything is your fault or yours to fix. Focusing on yourself and what you can do for yourself is key. You only have control over your reactions to situations you cannot control; you must believe something out there is doing the rest of the work for you.
Learn About What You Can Control
Allowing a higher power into your life is useful because it helps with guidance and wisdom sharing. You don’t need to get involved with some things in life.
Not everything that happens to you needs an immediate reaction, and sometimes letting things go and allowing your higher power to take care of it is quite relieving. What can you control in almost every situation? Yourself.
You can make decisions, create plans, and take action when called upon. You cannot control how other people act, but you can control how you respond. You can’t always control every situation you’re put into, but you can control how you respond. Do you see the pattern that is being created?
While the higher power takes care of things out of your reach, you can focus on the immediate now and live more in the moment than ever before.
Accept What You Can’t Control
On the flip side, you need to find a way to accept what’s not in your control. This may be struggling with how your friends or family react to your substance abuse, watching friends deal with addiction themselves, having a bad day at work, getting a flat tire, losing a pair of sentimental earrings, or going through a breakup.
Your reaction to all of these things is what you can control. For many people struggling with addiction, the smallest hiccups can make them panic.
While the action happening to you may feel overwhelming and upsetting, you must learn how to control your reactions to them. You can learn how to control your responses to stressors through mindfulness meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) practices, and other therapeutic methods.
Once you’ve accepted that you cannot control what happens to you, but rather only how you respond, it’s like a weight is lifted off your shoulders. Your higher power will guide you through these triggers so you don’t have to feel alone.
Third Step Prayer
After identifying your higher power and learning about what you can and cannot control, many members of AA will begin to use either a prayer from the original book used in AA or the Serenity Prayer. These prayers help them to ask their higher power for assistance and guidance during their recovery journey.
The Serenity Prayer is as follows:
“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.”
The prayer from The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous 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!”
These prayers help people to remind themselves they must display courage and acceptance to make progress. If they can do that, their higher power will care for the rest. There is, in fact, someone else out there that is looking out for them.
A Sober Community Can Help
While we want to put our faith in our higher power to guide us, we cannot look past the community we develop as part of AA. The people that are a part of these groups are looking for guidance and a support group with which they can share their experiences.
When it comes to recovery, there is not just one thing that makes recovery possible but a collective of people, therapies, and exercises that work together to create a positive outcome. With Sober Sidekick, you can access a sober community that wants to support and motivate you.
People using this app are looking to motivate and uplift other sober-seeking individuals for the same to be reciprocated back to them. When you download the app, you can develop friendships with other community members, talk with addiction professionals, and find a safe space online to join AA meetings and other self-formed groups.
If you need more guidance and help to understand the 12-step problem, don’t be afraid to reach out to the community inside of Sober Sidekick. You won’t find a more uplifting and encouraging group anywhere!
History of A.A. | Alcoholics Anonymous
Is “Loss of Control” Always a Consequence of Addiction? | NCBI
Drug Addiction, Love, and the Higher Power | NCBI
Mindfulness Meditation In The Treatment Of Substance Use Disorders And Preventing Future Relapse: Neurocognitive Mechanisms And Clinical Implications | NCBI