Step Three

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


Hi friends.

My name is Shlomo and I am a food addict and compulsive overeater. We had a few days of breathing space in order to give newcomers and stragglers a chance to catch up, but we have to move on. Remember we are in a race against time here. As long as we have not taken all the steps we are still obsessed by food and will eventually relapse. Although we should get up and continue if we relapse, it is still better to minimize that possibility of relapse by taking ALL the steps quickly, and thus have a spiritual awakening and be free of our obsession. So let us continue with step 3.

The Big Book explains, what is meant by step 3 and what we have to do.

"Just what do we mean by that, and just what do we do? The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. On that basis we are almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though our motives are good. Most people try to live by self-propulsion. Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way." page 60.

Our spiritual illness manifests in our trying to make life, (people and things) run according to our way. We think we know best what is good for others. My sponsor put it that way when I told him that I told my children, my wife, and others what is best for them to do.

"Did they ask for your opinion or your advice or your help? If they didn't, then you are just sticking your nose into things that are none of your business, even if you have the best intentions. Who the heck do you think you are, God? or God's deputy? Didn't you say in step one that your life had become unmanageable? So where did you get this erroneous idea that you of all people can know what is good for others? Don't you think that they are equipped to deal with their problems? And if they make mistakes are not they entitled to make them? How will they learn and experience anything? How will they learn to think for themselves if you decide for them."

He was right you know. Even if it pained me to see my children suffer because of what I thought were erroneous actions, did I have the right to butt in if I was not asked to do so?

This reminded me of something that happened when I was a small boy. I used to keep some silkworms in a box and gave them leaves of berries to eat. In due time they spun a silken a cocoon around themselves and turned into a motionless chrysalis inside it. The chrysalis was motionless on the outside, but inside all kinds of marvelous phenomena took place as it was transformed into a silkworm moth. Then it made a small hole in the cocoon and struggled quite hard to get out. What emerged was a beautiful moth who shortly afterwards began to lay eggs, from which hatched out new silkworms and the cycle began again.

Once I took a pity on such a moth and cut the cocoon in order to help him emerge without struggling so much. The moth came out all wrinkled and died soon afterwards.

Do you mean that I cannot help my children you may ask? Yes, you can. Here is the way the program taught me to do it. Children learn best by imitation and not by listening to what I tell them. So if I work the 12 step program and as a result have a manageable life and am in harmony with God, myself, and others. They will learn from me by imitation. I have to be an example by the way I live.

Telling my child to stop stealing when I am a thief is not very effective. Neither is it effective to tell him to behave when I don't. It will only make him do the opposite.

I have to remember that the only effective way to carry any message is to be that message, which means to live that message. And if my child still decides to do things that cause him trouble or are not what I think is right, it is his prerogative. All I can and should do is reassure him that I love him, and am there for him. The rest is up to him and his H.P.

Here is what the Big Book has to say about our being "do-gooders."

"What usually happens? The show doesn't come off very well. He begins to think life doesn't treat him right. He decides to exert himself more. He becomes, on the next occasion, still more demanding or gracious, as the case may be. Still the play does not suit him. Admitting he may be somewhat at fault, he is sure that other people are more to blame. He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying. What is his basic trouble? Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind? Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well? Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things he wants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get out of the show? Is he not, even in his best moments, a producer of confusion rather than harmony?" page 61.

Believing that I know what is good for others is a delusion (which means believing in a lie), and it causes confusion rather than harmony.

The Big Book gives us an extended definition of selfishness.

"Our actor is self-centered, ego-centric, as people like to call it nowadays... Whatever our protestations, are not most of us concerned with ourselves, our resentments, or our self-pity? Selfishness, self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self- seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt." pages 61-62.

So trying to impose our will on others even with the best intentions is selfishness and self-centeredness. Telling others what is good for them without being asked is selfishness and self-centeredness. It may manifest in various forms some of which are, blaming others, anger, indignation, self-pity, self-seeking, self- delusion, fear, resentments, and hurting others.

The Big Book continues:

"So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the compulsive eater is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn't think so. Above everything, we compulsive eaters must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible. And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid. Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to. Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power. We had to have God's help." page 62.

Having no limits and going to extremes also causes us a lot of troubles. That is what is meant by "self will run riot." It is not only food that we use and abuse in excess. It can be a lot of other things like sex, power, and money, like trying to boost our self-esteem by people-pleasing and resenting them because they can never please us enough, or like not taking responsibility for my actions and always seeing myself as a victim etc.

Is our self will bad? Do we have to get rid of it? Not at all. We cannot do anything without having a will. What is wrong is our misuse of our self-will by trying to impose it on others, and by going to extremes.

Bill W., the A.A. cofounder, says it very nicely in the A.A.12&12 page 40.

"It is when we try to make our will conform with God's that we begin to use it rightly. To all of us, this was a most wonderful revelation. OUR WHOLE TROUBLE HAD BEEN THE MISUSE OF WILLPOWER. WE HAD TRIED TO BOMBARD OUR PROBLEMS WITH IT INSTEAD OF ATTEMPTING TO BRING IT INTO AGREEMENT WITH GOD'S INTENTION FOR US. To make it increasingly possible is the purpose of the A.A.'s [O.A.'s] Twelve Steps, and Step Three opens the door."

The Big Book tells us explicitly that we cannot get rid of our selfishness by ourselves, like we cannot get rid of our obsession with food by ourselves. We will see as we take the steps that we cannot get rid of any of our liabilities by ourselves. We have to have God's help.

So what are the requirements?

The Big Book sums it up as follows:

"This is the how and the why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God [the how]. It didn't work [the why]. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom. " page 62.

Simple isn't it? Just quit playing God and DECIDE to turn to God for His care, guidance, and directions.

Here is how Bill W. took step 3. BB page 13.

"There I humbly offered myself to God, as I then understood Him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction."

Just to entice us to make the third step decision, the Big Book tells us again what is the pot of gold that is waiting for us at the end of the rainbow, and describes our spiritual awakening as the result of taking all 12 steps.

"When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed. We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well. Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our own little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn." page 63.


1. Give some examples on how selfishness and self-centeredness manifested in your life:

a. Trying to tell others what to do for their own good, without being asked for help or advice.

b. One or more of the following: blaming others, anger, indignation, self-pity, self-seeking, self- delusion, fear, resentments, and hurting others.

2. Give some examples of the way your "self will run riot" manifested in your life, in some of the following areas: sex, power, and money, people-pleasing, and other areas.

Have a nice day.


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