Step Three of Alcoholics Anonymous

Justin JChemical Dependency

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

If you read my last blog about Step 2, then you know that initially, I had a hard time with the concept of a higher power. This isn’t unusual. I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve attended where I’ve heard newcomers say this program won’t work for them if it requires them to be religious.

I want to say something clearly: Alcoholics Anonymous does not require you to adopt the tenets of any particular religion. It only requires that you believe in a power greater than yourself. If you remember from my last blog – for me that was the Universe; the planets, the stars, all of the matter that make up our galaxy was my higher power.

And, it worked.

Because some alcoholics initially have a hard time with this step due to conflicting feelings about religion or because they do not believe in God, they are often stuck on this step for a very long time (like I was). However, this step isn’t meant to be a religious or even spiritual commitment; it is designed to assist alcoholics in depending on something other than ourselves to help us stay sober.

I have seen my friends in recovery use this step in a number of different ways. While the activities of Step Three are very personal and often look different from person to person, there are some commonalities.

First, we begin by distinguishing between what is in our control and what isn’t. We alcoholics frequently cover up feelings of being out of control by attempting to control everything in our lives, including our own drinking. Personally, I often drank to forget that other painful things in my life were beyond my control. One way I use Step Three is to ask myself if I have control over something that is upsetting me. When the answer is an honest “no,” I learn to let go of those things through the work that I did on Steps Two and Three. This helps reduce my desire to drink – If I am able to turn that thing over, because I can in no way control it, I don’t have to drink about it, either.

Secondly, we have to learn to cultivate a positive attitude. I know what you’re thinking! Much easier said than done, right? Well, that’s true, at least initially. The feelings behind alcohol addiction are usually painful; often, we alcoholics feel we can’t deal with pain, anger or disappointment and drink to relieve ourselves of these feelings. When I learned how to turn over these feelings to my higher power, I began feeling more capable of dealing with life’s challenges, which has helped alleviate the compulsion to drink.

Finally, we must be open to guidance. Many of us find it difficult to accept help because of our need for control. We sometimes waste energy resisting the suggestions of our therapists or counselors’ instead of making the kinds of changes in our lives that will lead us to sobriety. Step Three tells us that we should be open to help from wherever it comes because whatever higher power we believe in might be directing us towards our best versions of ourselves.

And, for all of us, no matter how we get through the Third Step, that better version of ourselves is one in which we are sober.

Justin J. is a former resident of Smith Lodge and a gratefully recovering alcoholic. He hopes to be a regular contributor to our recovery-related blogs. Justin volunteers at our Mission Detox Center by bringing the fellowship of AA to others who are beginning the long and courageous journey towards a life of sobriety.

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