The first two steps prompted you to accept reality as it is and open your mind to new possibilities. Step three is a bit more concrete, instructing that we “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.” Step three is a stumbling block for countless addicts seeking recovery, as we have grown quite accustomed to forcing our will onto the people and environments around us. How can you successfully change this behavior pattern and truly give your will over to the care of your higher power?

First, remember what we said about progress versus perfection - you need not surrender your will and your life over to your higher power without fault in order to succeed! Ask those in the rooms of recovery who have decades of sobriety, and they will tell you even after all that time they still find themselves taking their will back and falling short of full surrender to their higher power from time to time. The important thing is that you make a conscious effort every day to give up your own will and try to align yourself with your higher power’s plan for your life. Your sponsor is an invaluable resource for you during this process as well. You should talk with them about any decision making processes you are going through in order to get feedback as to whether you are trying to exert your will onto a situation or if you are going with the flow and letting God work in your life.

Often those new in sobriety ask how to best determine for themselves whether they are living God’s will or their own. There is no cut and dried answer to this question, but there are a few tricks which work for many people starting out on their third step. We are all instilled with morals and values which are in agreement with our concept of a higher power, and so our “gut feelings” tend to coincide with our God’s will for us in most situations. If you are pondering a decision and one particular fork in the road just feels right, go with it! In all likelihood the answer which you feel best about is the one that is right for you. Even if the decision ends up seeming like a mistake, there is a lesson in every failure that will help you next time you are faced with a dilemma. Again, double check things over with your sponsor before making any major decisions in order to get that extra assurance you are making a good call.

The third step is one we practice and improve upon over the course of our lives; no one works a perfect third step all the time! As you first begin implementing this step in your daily life, you should expect to struggle to give up your will and discern your higher power’s plans for you in everyday situations. This is normal, and you should lean on your sponsor and sober supports for guidance until you gain a better feel for God’s will versus your own. Again, willingness is key here as with everything in recovery. So long as you remain willing to do God’s will rather than your own, you will succeed in your third step and continue to grow in your recovery!