How to Work Step 3 | 12 Step Program Tips & Worksheets

man prays to God

Many people in recovery, as well as their family and friends, are familiar with the 12-Step Program. The 12-Step Program is well-known around the world and serves as a guide to living a sustainable life in recovery. Each step, and the principles outlined by the program, are designed to help 12-Step fellowship members make intentional changes to produce long-lasting sobriety and a fulfilling life.

Whether you’re in recovery or you have a loved one who is, this blog offers a brief overview of all 12 steps with in-depth information on how to work Step 3. You’ll find tips and links to printable 12-Step worksheets too.

Although everyone’s journey through the 12-Steps is different, we hope these tips will serve as a guide to encourage lasting and genuine change as you work through the 12-Step Program at your own pace.

What are the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Why Is Step 3 Of the 12-Step Program Important?

Step three is immensely important because it is the culmination of the first three steps of the program. Ultimately, these first few steps are intended to help you get past the illusion that you are in control of your drinking or your drug use. Once you admit you have a problem (Step 1) and you come to terms that you need a higher power to live a better life (Step 2), then you can finally turn your life over into the care of your higher power (Step 3).

As expected, many people in recovery initially have trouble with this step. Understandably, it can be difficult if someone doesn’t believe in God or they have conflicting feelings about religion. However, Step 3 isn’t meant to make you feel obligated to follow any God or a specific set of religious beliefs. Instead, it will help you learn how to rely on your higher power (whatever that may be) to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

This third step is less about believing in God and more about admitting you can’t control your addiction on your own and embracing spirituality in the process. It requires that you put the thoughts and words you speak during Steps 1 and 2 into action by placing your faith in a higher power and courageously surrendering your life to someone or something else (fellowship, family, sponsor, etc.) who is genuinely invested in your recovery and healing.

In short, Step 3 opens the door to the actions found in Steps 4 through 12. It invites you to begin changing your behavior so it aligns with your outward commitment to a sober life.

How Should I Work Step 3 of the 12-Step Program?

Before you can start working on Step 3 of the 12-Step Program, you must be fully prepared to hand over control of your life to a higher power. This is a very difficult thing to do in a society that tells us that we control our fate, when in fact, some things are very much out of our control.

However challenging you may find this step, the following tips will help you sort through it as you meditate on it with the help of your 12-Step fellowship, supportive friends and family, and your sponsor.

  • Confront your fears about giving up control. Naturally, you might feel very hesitant to give up any control in your life to a higher power. Or, you may worry that you’ll still fail. These feelings are normal and everyone faces Step 3 with some sense of hesitation at first. It’s not easy giving up control, but when you decide to let go and allow a greater power to take over, you embrace your faith in a higher power and choose to believe that transformative change is possible. Your faith is what allows you to make the jump and fully commit to your recovery and all the change that comes with it.
  • Be open to taking suggestions. Another aspect of giving up control is being open to accepting guidance and help. Instead of resisting suggestions that your sponsor or counselor makes, try listening without judgment and consider the fact that these individuals have loads of wisdom they are sharing with you. Accepting this advice might just be the key to a lifelong change in your own life.
  • Ask yourself what changes you intend to make. After you decide to give up control to your higher power, in what ways will you change your life? Consider what you think your life should look like and how you can take steps toward achieving that goal.

If you find that you’re just not ready to hand your life over to a higher power, that’s okay. You may need to take a step back and re-work Steps 1 and 2 with the support of a treatment professional or sponsor.

Printable AA Step Three Worksheets

Step 3 worksheets are great tools that will help you work through this step and identify any roadblocks along the way. The best resources for printable AA Step 3 worksheets are your sponsor, counselor, or your addiction treatment provider. However, you can also find them online. 

Here are a few printable Step 3 worksheets you may find to be helpful:

After you complete your Step 3 worksheets, you’ll get more out of it if you talk through them with your sponsor or an addiction treatment professional. The discussion may help you process your thoughts, gain additional understanding and insight about Step 3, and learn how to apply it to your life.

Who Can Help Me Work the 3rd Step of the 12-Step Program?

It’s not a requirement to work through the 12-Step Program with anyone else, but doing it alone severely limits your growth potential, change, and self-reflection. Working through the 12-Steps with a fellowship of sober peers, a sponsor, and certified addiction treatment professionals offers many benefits, like a wealth of knowledge, advice, support, and wisdom that you may not otherwise get. Working through supplementary guides (like printable Step 3 worksheets) with others is also very helpful and therapeutic.

Maybe you’re ready to take the next step and get serious about your sobriety but you need help. The compassionate and experienced professionals at Briarwood Detox are here to help you now. We provide safe and comfortable medical detox programs for drugs and alcohol. Our detox programs are based on evidence-based and research-based treatment methods to ensure that you are well-cared for and that you have the best chance for long-lasting sobriety after treatment.

During detox, we introduce clients to the 12-Step program with low-pressure and relaxed H&I meetings, where they can learn about the program, hear from sober peers, and connect with sponsors. After detox, we work with you and your insurance provider to provide referrals for comprehensive and holistic rehab to encourage sustained sobriety.
If you’re ready to make a change today, please contact us by calling (888) 857-0557. We are waiting to take your call and are available to answer any questions about detox and recovery.

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