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Step 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous: Depend on Your Higher Power

What Is Step 3 of AA?

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.”

What Is the Purpose of Step 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous?

Step 3 is about turning one’s will over to the higher power of their choosing.1

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 Step 3?

Step 3 is the first step that requires action. The first two steps focus on reflection and introspection.

Achieving long-term sobriety and serenity is thought to be assisted through the process of trusting in a higher power who helps you through difficult times.

What Are Some Tips for Completing Step 3?

  • Embrace a higher power and view trusting a higher power as a form of strength.
  • Recite the Serenity Prayer during times of emotional distress or indecision.

What Are Some Myths About Step 3?

If you depend on a higher power, you will lose your individuality: On the contrary, AA members often believe that turning your will over to a higher power can lead to true freedom and serenity.

Perspectives on Step 3

By Dominica A.

“Some of my decisions in life led me to misery.

Self-will and acting on addiction causes me to experience difficulty. For this reason, Step 3 is so crucial 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 allows me the opportunity to surrender my will and my life over to my Higher Power. It allows me to experience 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 battling overwhelming 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 level of relief, peace, and joy through external dependence. I believed if I possessed 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 started this inner journey that set me on the path 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 clue 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 allows us to relax and simply be us—our amazing selves—and that is a beautiful thing.”

Author bio

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.

If you would like more information about addiction treatment options available in your area, contact American Addiction Center’s helpful admissions navigators at for a free, private consultation today.

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