Giving Up…….Control

Step 3

In Step 2, the concept of a higher power was introduced in preparation of alcoholics relinquishing the need to control every-single-thing in their lives.  Step 3 moves to the decision-making process of this concept stating, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”  This step helps move the alcoholic in deciding to change their life by changing their attitude.  Like I stated in my blog on Step 2, “Some people use God or other religious beliefs but that doesn’t have to be the only way”. In AA, alcoholics have the freedom to decide on their own concepts free from prejudice.  Like Step 2, this step is in no way meant to be a religious commitment but rather a way to connect sobriety to something beyond self.  As a reminder, active addiction is all about self, behaving without consideration to the feelings or needs of others and focusing only on ‘you’.  While in the pursuit of these impulses and chasing that next drink, what is most often left is a path of destruction and a lost touch with reality.

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

Some ways alcoholics can use Step 3 to make changes in their lives

  • Begin determining what is and is not in their control including their own drinking. Alcoholics may cover up out-of-control feelings by attempting to control all things including their own drinking.  Using alcohol to deal with painful circumstances in their lives beyond their control is often an alcoholic’s mode of dealing with life’s challenges. By deciphering what truly is in their control and turning the rest over to their ‘Higher power’ can help decrease the desire to drink.
  • Pursue and nurture a positive attitude. Unable to deal with the pain, anger and frustration of life situations the alcoholic tries to bury these feelings in alcohol.  Learning to turn these feelings over to that which inspires them not to drink, a.k.a ‘Higher Power’, can open the door to having a more positive outlook as well as curb the desire to drink.
  • Be open to help and guidance. Many an alcoholic struggle with trust issues and find it difficult accepting help out of their need for control, spending more energy in resisting than making changes in their life.  The alcoholic should instead be open to help from whatever the source.  Whatever higher power they’re working with (including the best version of them self) could be directing them toward better behavior.

Recovery is a process and takes time. Some valuable questions the alcoholic can begin asking themselves when working through Step 3:

  • How has acting on my own self-will affected my life? How has it affected others?
  • How can I take action to turn it over?
  • Is my current concept of a Higher Power working my need to change?
  • How is my Higher Power working in my life?
  • Am I unwilling to do things in my recovery that are being suggested? If so, why?

For the alcoholic to be successful in making the decision to turn their lives over to a higher power cannot be achieved without taking necessary actions.  Making a decision without follow through in action is meaningless.

You can make the decision to go to an AA meeting but it won’t happen if you never leave the house.

An effective yet simple prayer applied in AA can help in pursuing knowledge and making the decision to turn over your life is the Serenity Prayer:

“God[or other higher power of choice] grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The Serenity Prayer can helps recovering alcoholics accept with a level of calmness the current reality of their condition. While you cannot control the choices and actions of others, you can choose how you will behave in each situation.  Though you may not be able to change every single thing in life, you can make a decision to change your willingness to surrender, trust and seek knowledge.

As of this posting most AA meetings are not gathering due to COVID-19. Here is a link for online AA meetings.