Step 3 of the 12 Steps

Step 3 of the 12 Steps is all about Surrendering to your Higher Power.

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

During active addiction we were incapable of making healthy decisions for ourselves. Either we couldn’t make decisions and everything we did was just ruled by our need to use or if we did make any decisions we made bad choices.

step 3 of the 12 steps gods willStep 3 is a process and does not mean that we suddenly start living our lives in a completely different way. Each day we make the decision to hand our will and our lives over to the care of our Higher Power. This is a very important point to highlight. We are allowing someone or something else to care for us. This does not mean that we simply let someone or something else control us and make all of our decisions for us. Nor do we become mindless robots that just follow directions.

We are allowing someone or something else to care for us. We are choosing to believe that our Higher Power will be able to make better decisions for us. We pray for the knowledge of God’s will instead of running rampant on our own self will.

Until this time we have probably been making all our decisions based entirely on our own self will. As we look back on our lives we will realise that running on self will is exactly what got us into this mess in the first place. We cannot do this on our own and we are incapable of making healthy decisions on our own.

Spiritual Principles of Step 3:

  • Surrender: we need to do this on a constant basis, when things are going well and when things are going badly
  • Willingness: we usually feel most willing after we have surrendered
  • Hope, Faith & Trust: there is a progression from Hope to Faith to Trust in the third step

step 3 of the 12 steps serenity

This step is very important to me personally. Although I have been in recovery for a number of years I constantly find myself in battle with my self will. I will be happily living my life and suddenly start encountering difficulties. When I go back to basics and start looking at what is going on in my life I find that I have been taking back my self will instead of trying to implement God’s will in my life. I then once again surrender myself to the program and to God’s will and find suddenly all the little bumps along the road start smoothing out. Life becomes easier again.

I won’t lie, there are plenty of times that there is a battle within me and I struggle to let go of my self will. It is when I finally let go and let God that peace and serenity once again settles over me.

The serenity prayer that we say at every meeting is beautiful and helps me find my path when I am struggling and don’t know which way to turn:

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.

This prayer always helps me to find the strength to surrender to my Higher Power and to understand what is God’s will and what is my self will.

step 3 of the 12 steps two wolvesI heard a little story a while back that really hits home for me. An old Cherokee tells his grandson that there are two wolves constantly fighting inside us. One is Good and the other is Evil. The boy asks he grandfather which wolf wins and his grandfather answers: The one that you feed the most.

If I don’t continuously check myself and ask whether I am running on self will or God’s will then my addiction will run riot and I will relapse. This is the reason that once the 12 steps has been completed I simply start them over again. I will be doing this for the rest of my life, it keeps me healthy and it keeps me clean.

I would love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment!


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  1. Brian Reynolds says:

    Hi Lynne,
    Yeah self is a real pain in the butt huh? lol. It has been since the fall. If you check out Romans seven, Paul gets real deep into the struggle even he went through between his self verses his spirit. I actually did a page on it awhile ago. That whole chapter is an incredible study, and if you dig deep into it, you’d be glad you did. All things are possible through Christ who strengthens you!
    Thanks for the post!

    • Lynne says:

      Hi Brian

      Thanks for visiting and for your input 🙂 I haven’t read that, sorry I am not religious but will have a look!

      Kind Regards

    • Fito says:

      Hi Lynne

      First, let me tell you that you are a true inspiration for all of us, you website is testimony to that, and it is really outstanding your ability to speak from you heart, and also your courage to share this with the world.

      The things you describe in this post are very deep and spiritual. The St Francis quote about the acceptance is truly fantastic, and I personally try to live by it every day. But it is hard as you sure know.

      I also loved the story of the two wolves, I remember having heard in a movie or something, thanks for making remember it!!!

      Congratulations again, and my best wishes go with you!

      • Lynne says:

        Hi Fito

        Thank you for visiting 🙂 I just hope I can inspire other addicts to get into recovery!

        Kind Regards


      • Aiden says:

        Hey Lynne,

        Interesting article, while not into christianity myself this is an interesting concept of how to get rid of addition, have you tried this concept out yourself?

        I am curious to know of your journey (if you have been through this before) so people will know what to expect with the ups and downs of life and handing your fate over to a higher power.

        Your website looks great by the way.

        Freedom Weight Loss

        • Lynne says:

          Hi Aiden

          I am not religious either. It is important to have a Higher Power, but this does not imply religion at all 🙂

          Yes this works. I have been working the 12 Steps for 7 years and I am still clean. I would really recommend this as the way to go if you are addict or alcoholic!

          Yes there will always be ups and downs, that is part of life. The 12 Steps teaches you how to live life clean and keep working on yourself. It is an amazing program.

          Kind Regards


        • Shawn7 says:

          Very nice site, interactive and I especially like what you said about the wolves inside of us. I have heard of this story as well. Feed the right one!

          • Lynne says:

            Hi Shawn
            Thank you! Yes I love the story about the wolves. It sums it up very nicely. It is also a story that can be applied to everyone, not just addicts.
            Kind Regards

          • NemiraB says:

            Hello Lynne. You created wonderful website. This page is comfort for people who need support in journey to freedom. Freedom to choose, accept yourself, love yourself and trust to Higher Power, that will help you. I have an addiction too. Maybe somebody will tell that is nothing. I like chocolate. It is not easy to be without it. I try to have breaks. It is so tempating.
            Thanks for inspiring page, all the best to you, Nemira.

            • Lynne says:

              Hi Nemira

              Thank you for your feedback. Sugar addiction is a very real addiction, as well as lots of other addictions that people are not aware of such as work addictions, exercise addictions, internet addictions…

              I hope my website can help you find the freedom you need.

              Kind Regards


            • Jessica says:

              Hi Lynne,
              I have gotten to meet some people who struggled with addiction, particularly meth, and they are always so eager to share their story and especially highlight how things are going now. Most of them have made such amazing transformations that they have been reunited with estranged family members and have gone back to work and school. These programs really do work and it really is when someone follows them and does what they should do that they can have back all the things they lost. It may not be 100% the same as it was before, but it can be a good start.

              • Lynne says:

                Hi Jessica

                Yes for sure, the 12 Step Program speaks about keeping what we have by giving it away 🙂 It is an amazing program. I am not sure what program your friends worked but it sounds like a similar concept if it is not the 12 steps.

              • Ian says:

                Hi Lynne,

                I’ve also struggled with addictions in the past and I applaud you for starting this awesome blog.

                I love the 12 steps of AA/Al-anon since it really does help you stay clean, and stay connected to others.

                I also love the wolf saying, which wolf will you feed? I choose to feed the good wolf in this moment.

                Keep you the good work!

                • Lynne says:

                  Hi Ian

                  I am so glad to hear that you have overcome your struggles with addiction.

                  That is exactly what it comes down to, feeding the right wolf!

                • Derek Marshall says:

                  Hi There Lynne,

                  Great site and very difficult topic to tackle and I do commend you for that.

                  I tend to think that these addiction groups are not at all that correct. I mean abstinence does not cure anything.I mean the aim of the group is to retain your membership ..would n’t an alcoholic be better cured if he became a social drinker rather than an abstainer?

                  Still the 12 step process, if you focus on it is actually closely related to some aspects of Buddhism. Seriously.

                  • Lynne says:

                    Hi Derek

                    Yes it is difficult to abstain, but the fact is that an alcoholic or an addict can never be a social user. It just doesn’t work that way.

                    Alcoholism/ Addiction cannot be cured, it can only be managed.

                    Think of it like diabetes, it cannot be cured but must be managed for life. You cannot “eat sugar socially”… you will die. You also cannot abstain from sugar for 10 years and then magically be able to eat sugar again. These same principles apply to addiction.

                    • Derek Marshall says:

                      Thank you, I actually was very interested in your reply. Abstinence I do believe is biblical.

                      • Lynne says:

                        It is a pleasure Derek 🙂 Always great to have discussions around what we all believe in. Everyone has a different take on it and I enjoy hearing everyone’s opinions.

                      • kala says:

                        Its important to have inner strength with any fight or battle. I always say there is no war unless there is two sides fighting. You focus on the whole of you and keep it moving. Sometimes in life we struggle with things and wonder why we keep gong through them, your not one of those! Sometimes we bump in the road but with ambition you come out on top every time!
                        Good luck and best to you

                        • Lynne says:

                          There are always bumps in the road! It is how you cope with them that count and you come out stronger if you face things head on.

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