Third Step Exercise From The Original Manuscript

Hi Everyone!

Edith sent me an email requesting the Third Step Exercise.

For fun, I thought I would post on the blog a personalized third step exercise using the text from The AA Big Book Original Manuscript.

I tried to use CAPITAL LETTERS to note any changes that I made to the text.

Page references, when possible, are from the AA Big Book 4th Edition.

Third Step Exercise:

The following is taken from the Big Book Original Manuscript, and phrased in the first person. Read this out loud to someone each day for a week, and then decide if:

  1. It applies to you.
  2. You are ready to quit living like this.
  3. You are ready to accept living on Gods terms.


60:6  The first requirement is that I see that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. On that basis I AM almost always in collision~ with something or somebody, even though MY motives may be good. I TRY to live by self-propulsion. I AM like an actor who wants to run the whole show: I AM forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in my own way. If my arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as I WISH, the show would be great. Everybody, including MYSELF, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful. In trying to make these arrangements I may sometimes be quite virtuous. I may be kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing. On the other hand, I may be mean, egotistical, selfish and dishonest. But, as with most humans, I AM more likely to have varied traits.

61:1  What usually happens? The show doesn’t come off very well. I begins to think life doesn’t treat ME right. I decides to exert MYSELF some more. I become, on the next occasion, still more demanding or gracious, as the case may be. Still the play does not suit ME. Admitting I may be somewhat at fault, I AM sure that other people are more to blame. I become angry, indignant, self-pitying. What is MY basic trouble? AM I not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind? AM I not a victim of the delusion that I can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if I only manage well? Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things I WANT? And do not MY actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get out of the show? AM I not, even in MY best moments, a producer of confusion rather than harmony?

61:2  I AM self-centered – ego-centric, as people like to call it nowadays. I AM like the retired business man who lolls in the Florida sunshine in the winter complaining of the sad state of the nation; the preacher who sighs over the sins of the twentieth century; politicians and reformers who are sure all would be Utopia if the rest of the world would only behave; the outlaw safe cracker who thinks society has wronged him; and the alcoholic who has lost all and is locked up. Whatever MY protestations, AM I not mostly concerned with MYSELF, MY resentments, or MY self-pity?

62:1  Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, I think, is the root of MY troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, I step on the toes of MY fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt ME, seemingly, without provocation, but I invariably find that at some time in the past I have made decisions based on self, which later placed ME in a position to be hurt.

62:2  So MY troubles, I THINK, are basically of MY own making. They arise out of MYSELF, and I, AS AN alcoholic AM almost the most extreme example that could be found of self-will run riot, though I usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, I, AS AN ALCOHOLIC/ADDICT must be rid of this selfishness. I must, or it kills ME! God makes that possible. And there is no way of entirely getting rid of self without Him. I may have moral and philosophical convictions galore, but I can’t live up to them even though I would like to. Neither can I reduce MY self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on MY own power. I must have God’s help.

62:3  This is the how and why of it. First of all, I MUST PERSONALLY quit playing God. It doesn’t work. Next, decide that hereafter in this drama of life, God is going to BE MY Director. He is the Principal; I AM to be His agent. He is the Father, and I AM are His child. Get that simple relationship straight. Most good ideas are simple and this concept is to be the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which I will pass to freedom.

63:1  When I sincerely take such a position, all sorts of remarkable things follow. I have a new Employer. Being all powerful, He must necessarily provide what I need, if I keep close to Him and perform His work well. Established on such a footing I become less and less interested in MYSELF, MY little plans and designs. More and more I become interested in seeing what I can contribute to life. As I feel new power flow in, as I enjoy peace of mind, as I discover I can face life successfully, as I become conscious of His presence, I begin to lose MY fear of today, tomorrow, or the hereafter. I will have been reborn.

63:2  I Get down upon MY knees and say to MY Maker, as I understand Him: “God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!” I THINK well before taking this step. I MAKE SURE I AM ready; that I can at last abandon MYSELF utterly to Him.

63:3  It is very desirable that I make MY decision with an understanding person. It may be MY wife, MY best friend, MY spiritual adviser, but I remember it is better to meet God alone THAN with one who might misunderstand. I must decide this for MYSELF. The wording of MY decision is, of course, quite optional so long as I express the idea, voicing it without reservation. This decision is only a beginning, though if honestly and humbly made, an effect, sometimes a very great one, will be felt at once.

For Homework Answer The Following Questions:

  • Does this description fit ME? How?
  • AM I convinced that MY life, job, relationships, marriage, friendships and everything else in MY life run on self-will is going to be a failure?
  • What meaning does this have in MY life today?
  • AM I willing to follow up this decision with the action required of me in Steps Four through Nine?

I hope that this is helpful!

In love & service,



This is the text of the exercise above as a PDF:



  1. Hi darling. Do you have any 2nd step exercises? Love 💕 NT

    Sent from my iPhone


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