Mental Health Blogs

Personal Bill of Rights

Social anxiety is so deeply intertwined with our self-esteem and how much we value ourselves. An interesting concept I found in The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, by Edmund Bourne, Ph.D., is called your “Personal Bill of Rights”. The idea is that we all have rights as human beings. Sometimes, we either forget or we don’t realize that we have them because we weren’t taught them as children growing up.

If we can realize these rights plus also learn to exercise them, then we can build a more assertive attitude. The result is we respect ourselves enough to be conscious of our basic human rights. Here is the list:

  1. I have the right to ask for what I want.
  2. I have the right to say no to requests or demands I can’t meet.
  3. I have the right to express all of my feelings, positive or negative.
  4. I have the right to change my mind.
  5. I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
  6. I have the right to follow my own standards and standards.
  7. I have the right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe, or it violates my values.
  8. I have the right to determine my own priorities.
  9. I have the right not to be responsible for others’ behavior, actions, feelings, or problems.
  10. I have the right to expect honesty from others.
  11. I have the right to be angry at someone I love.
  12. I have the right to be uniquely myself.
  13. I have the right to feel scared and say “I’m scared.”
  14. I have the right to say “I don’t know.”
  15. I have the right not to give excuses or reasons for my behavior.
  16. I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings.
  17. I have the right to my own needs for personal space and time.
  18. I have the right to be playful and frivolous.
  19. I have the right to be healthier than those around me.
  20. I have the right to be in a non abusive environment.
  21. I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
  22. I have the right to change and grow.
  23. I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others.
  24. I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
  25. I have the right to be happy.

Getting the Most From the Personal Bill of Rights

happinessDr. Bourne says that if you carefully read through this list everyday, eventually you will learn to accept that you are entitled to each of the rights enumerated.

Personally, my favorites are 15, 19, and 21. Which ones are your favorites and why?

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One Response to Personal Bill of Rights

  1. DHFabian says:

    There’s a big catch here. When social anxiety is severe, you are often (not always) unable to provide for yourself. You are financially dependent on others/gov. The alternative might be homelessness, and especially for women, this means being at the mercy of people who, generally, have no mercy.Because you’re financially dependent/poor, you don’t have the right to truthfully speak your mind. When it comes to things like asking for what you want, well, the answer is no. One in this position is NOT treated with the dignity and respect that adults tend to expect. If you’re poor, our culture does NOT view (or treat) you as a normal, equal individual. If you’re a survivor, you just learn to cope with it, but it does take a toll on stuff like self-esteem.