What is Step 3 in AA?

What is Step 3 in AA?

In step two of AA, you were exploring your relationship with God or another higher power and beginning to wrap your mind around the idea of surrendering control to this power. In step three of AA, you’re making the conscious decision to actually do this.

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

Turning your life over to a higher power is a monumental step in your 12-step journey. Truly surrendering makes the difference between lifelong recovery and relapse.

What Does Step Three in AA Mean?

In theory, step three in AA is as simple as making a decision: a decision to turn all control over to the higher power that you began your relationship with in step two.

In practice, making this decision can be quite difficult. Giving up control can be hard for a lot of people. However, recovery cannot be effective if you don’t surrender.

Continuing to go through the motions without making the necessary changes to your mentality and lifestyle is a dangerous place to be in. Relying on willpower alone, instead trusting your higher power for support, puts you at a higher risk of relapse. This is because, in thinking you are able to do it all yourself, you’re preventing yourself from fully healing from your addiction.

How to Work Step Three in AA

As part of making the decision to trust God or another higher power with your situation, you’re also seeking knowledge from your higher power. How does your higher power support you? What is the will of your higher power – what does it want for you?

Once you’ve figured this out, you can compare this to what happens when you follow your own will in your life. Exclusively following your self-will is selfish, lacks concern for others, and ultimately leaves a path of destruction. This is true for everyone, not just addicts. Many psychologists believe that humans are inherently selfish and motivated mainly by personal gain.

Considering the outcome of the two situations – following God’s will versus your own – you’ll see quickly that your life will be more fulfilling if you choose to follow the will of your higher power.

While further reflecting on yourself during this step, consider asking yourself some of the following questions:

  • What actions can I take to turn over control?
  • How is my higher power working to support me in my life?
  • How will complete surrender improve my life?
  • What about the idea of not being in control scares me? How can I overcome these fears?

How Many Ways Can I Understand God?

The wording of step three in AA is very specific and talks about turning our lives over to God as we understood Him. What does this mean?

Each person’s relationship with God is as unique as they are, so you can understand God in nearly an unlimited amount of ways. When working the 12 steps of AA, you don’t need to believe in or follow the Christian interpretation of God. You don’t even need to call your higher power “God”.

People of all religious backgrounds can follow the 12 steps. You can pray to any religious deity, connect with the universe, or even simply draw inspiration from your fellow recovering group members.

In fact, there’s an acronym that exists for those who like to consider a room full of recovering addicts to be their god:




All in all, it’s not important what you call your higher power or what that power looks like. Step three in AA is all about letting go of control, recognizing that there is some sort of underlying life force, and trusting that this life force has your best interests in mind.

Need Help Following the 12 Steps of AA?

Making a decision to surrender all control is never easy. Luckily for you, you don’t have to do it alone. 12-step programs have a built-in support system of people who are going through the exact same experience as you.  

At Any Length, we believe in the healing power of the 12 steps of AA and use them to help addicted men and their families achieve lifelong recovery. If you’d like support in turning all control over to a higher power, give us a call at 512-746-7036 to find out how we can help you find freedom from addiction.

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