Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Contributors & Editors

Susana Spiegel

Recovery Writer and Advocate

Kirsten Andersen

Recovery Writer and Advocate

Last Update on March 21, 2024

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Embracing Transformation: The Power of Third Step

Recovery is a transformative journey, and the third step of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) marks an important moment. This step, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him,” represents a profound commitment to change and healing. Surrendering one’s will to a higher power is seen as a brave step towards personal growth and recovery.

This mindset shift brings about a new life perspective, fostering a sense of peace and acceptance that is essential for lasting recovery. The transition through this step often leads to profound personal insights and a stronger sense of purpose, reinforcing the journey towards sobriety.

Understanding the Third Step

The 12-step program, as a recovery path, emphasizes spiritual growth, personal responsibility, and community support. The third step is especially significant in this journey. It involves a conscious choice to trust one’s will and life to a higher power, as each person understands it. Moving beyond strict religious tenets, this step invites a wider embrace of spirituality that goes beyond individual beliefs.

It’s about discovering strength in vulnerability and relying on a support network that aids in holistic healing and sustained sobriety. This approach helps to foster a supportive environment that nurtures growth, making the recovery process more comprehensive and meaningful.

step three quote

Diverse Interpretations and Personal Journeys

The third step in the 12-step program stands out for its adaptability, welcoming individuals to interpret it in line with their personal beliefs. This interpretation could be in the form of a traditional deity, a spiritual essence, nature’s forces, or the vastness of the universe. For some, the higher power is embodied in the AA community’s strength and support.

Personal recovery stories illustrate the step’s role in helping individuals move from self-dependence to trusting and surrendering to something greater. These stories are powerful reflections of how each person uniquely connects with this step, showcasing a spectrum of spiritual and philosophical beliefs.

The Role of the Third Step in Recovery

In the journey of recovery, the third step signifies a shift from the contemplation of surrender to its active practice. This transition is an important phase in an individual’s recovery and personal healing journey. Research from 2018 underscores the association between commitment to this step and an enhanced engagement in the 12-step program, leading to more positive recovery outcomes.

This commitment is also often associated with significant personal growth and emotional well-being. The study highlights that by embracing this step, individuals often experience a profound personal transformation, which plays an integral role in the overall recovery process.



What is the third step of the 12-step program?

It involves the decision to turn one’s will and life over to the care of a higher power, as understood individually.

Why is the third step important in recovery?

It represents a commitment to change, from self-reliance to trust in a higher power, essential for healing.

How is the third step interpreted personally?

Individual beliefs shape how one understands and embraces surrender to a higher power.

The Significance of Commitment in Recovery

The third step is integral to achieving successful recovery. It forms the foundation for the subsequent steps and profoundly affects the long-term recovery journey. This step involves a transition from self-reliance to a new lifestyle centered on trust and openness, marking a shift towards a recovery path guided by support and community.

This step is also instrumental in shaping an individual’s identity during recovery. Adopting this commitment leads to deep personal transformation, representing a significant phase in the recovery process. It often results in enhanced personal relationships and improved emotional stability, demonstrating the profound impact of this commitment.

The strength and insight gained through embracing this step are invaluable. Individuals often find a renewed sense of purpose and direction, equipping them to handle recovery challenges with resilience and optimism. The transformative nature of the third step is a key component in building a sustainable and rewarding recovery journey.

Key takeaways

Overcoming Challenges and Finding Support

Embracing the third step of the 12-step program comes with its own set of challenges. For many individuals, the idea of relinquishing control and placing trust in a higher power is not just new but can be daunting. This difficulty is often more pronounced for those who have historically relied heavily on their own abilities and judgment. Acknowledging the need for and accepting external guidance represents a major shift in perspective and behavior.

The process of overcoming ingrained beliefs in self-reliance and skepticism is a key aspect of this journey. Surrendering, an essential part of the third step, demands a deep introspection and willingness to change long-held beliefs. This internal transformation is often challenging, as it involves confronting personal fears and vulnerabilities and embracing a new way of thinking and living.

Support systems play a critical role in the recovery journey. Engaging with the AA community and building connections with those on similar paths offer essential understanding and support. This combination of shared experiences and external resources like therapy forms a network that aids in navigating the challenges of the third step. Such environments are key to maintaining active involvement and commitment in the 12-step process, enhancing the overall path to recovery.

Embracing Change: The Journey Through the Third Step

At Cornerstone Healing Center, the third step of the AA program is more than just a guideline; it represents a transformative practice. This step is about embracing change, placing trust in a power greater than oneself, and embarking on a path toward healing and growth.

Recognized as an essential part of the recovery journey, this step is characterized by trust, surrender, and personal transformation. For individuals in recovery, the third step acts as a guiding light, leading them towards a fulfilling and serene life. This significant phase in their recovery journey symbolizes hope and a new beginning.

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Author & Reviewers

susana spiegel recovery writer and SEO expert

Susana is a recovery writer and advocate with over 8 years in addiction recovery. She is passionate about sharing accurate and helpful information about mental health, addiction, and recovery. She holds a Bachelor’s in Christian Studies from Grand Canyon University and has over 7 years of working in the addiction field. 

lionel estrada lisac clinical director

Lionel is the Clinical Director of Cornerstone’s Scottsdale treatment facilities. He has had over 4 years at Cornerstone. He is personally in recovery and passionate about helping others overcome substance abuse and mental health challenges; he is trained as an EMDR, adopting a trauma-informed approach to treat the underlying issues.

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