Personal Bill of Rights

June 1, 2010 Aimee White

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?

APA Reference
White, A. (2010, June 1). Personal Bill of Rights, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Aimee White

January, 27 2019 at 7:51 am

Couldn't you have just said "I strongly suggest you get counseling to learn to stop enabling your son's addictions"?

April Leasa
August, 27 2018 at 12:27 pm

I have a question about these rights. My son has mental health issues. He is 25. He self medicates with drugs and alcohol. He was homeless once. He's been home now for over a year but he's still in the street person mindset. Instead of trying to become more self sufficient he will scam and and try to think of ways to get money for drugs or just get his dealers to give it to him somehow. He loses his phone all the time and his wallet. I'm at my wits end. I want him to feel the consequences of his actions. He is destroying my life. I feel like I have to babysit him with everything. How do I let him have his rights but at the same time impose rules in the house? Like for instance, something simple like we went to the store the other day and he had a dirty white hoodie on with the hood up with bloodshot eyes and dirty white sweatpants on. I was embarrassed to be with him. How do I let him choose to look the way he wants but at the same time tell him how he looks to other people and it does make a difference in society in the way he's treated. Which then reinforces the way he keeps living his life. Because he doesn't seem to get it. I'm pretty sure he's on the spectrum as well but I can't find anyone that will test him for this so he can get the right kind of help.

August, 27 2018 at 11:17 pm

I don't see a question anywhere in your statement. Anyone who is in the health care field knows the #1 rule is to take care of yourself first. I too have mental health issues but, I am in counseling and on tbe right type of medications.
You are not helping yourself and you're definatly NOT helping your son but, enabling him. When you take care of someone, you have to push them to do thing's on their own. When you start to depend on someone, as a human being, you'll start to take advantage of the situation. With the elderly there has been many times where I have to say "You can do this on your own" and their response is "Well, so-and-so helped me...I CAN'T do it". I have to say "Yes you can. Give yourself more credit".
Your son is self medicating and you're ALLOWING it to happen. Your love for your son has become distorted. You think you can love him into getting better, but in reality, you're loving him into being codependent. It is not helping you nor him. You have to do tough love.
Do you think he thinks of your needs? No and he's not a child so, stop treating him as such.
Be more honest if you're truly looking for help. He has stolen from you, your loved ones to get his fix as you look the other way because when he's high, he acts "normal". What is normal to the spider is chaos to the fly. YOU are the fly.
I know for a fact you have searched high and low to help find a "cure" and have spent a lot of time and money to help "fix" your son. This is the brutal reality, he is an addict. He is sick. Not the kind of sick some soup can cure. You can tell me the sob story on how he got this way, but your story will get lost with all the other addicts stories and the people they've hurt while self meditating because the world is "too hard".
You've probably have blamed the doctor's when they tell you that you need to set up boundies and limitations.
It's so much easier to blame everyone else but, your son.
You get angry when they all have said "You can't help him until he's ready to help himself". You have probably thought "Oh he may be having a break through" when he breaks down sobbing saying that he's sorry. If he was truly sorry, why is this continuing? Because you're allowing it.
Do you think he's as embarrassed as you are walking around in public in withdrawal? No. He doesn't care. He doesn't care about being a waking advertisement for drugs and alcohol, he doesn't care that you're embarrassed. You're his ride, his cook, his maid.
Why should he seek help when you're doing everything for him? He has quite the set up going on. A free place to stay, roof over his head, a meal on the table and a purse or wallet he can get into to go get the drugs.
Are you REALLY seeking help or just venting about your life? YOU need help too! It's not just him. He has damaged your life and other's around him and he is a walking time bomb ready to go off at the drop of a hat.
If you really want your life back, go seek professional help. This will give YOU the tools you need to STOP enabeling him.
I'm sure you've watched enough intervention shows to know how this goes.
It seems like this isn't something new.
How do you let him choose??!?! He is an adult. That's why you need to seek PROFESSIONAL help instead of asking the world what to do about your son being a straight up, hard core addict. He looses things because he's on drugs.
These personal bill of rights doesn't extend to him. He is self centered and care for nothing else besides his next fix.
He will use being homeless to appeal to your motherly instinct. "WELL, I GUESS I'LL GO BACK TO BEING HOMELESS BECAUSE YOU DON'T LOVE ME"
That is usually one of the many lines they will go to to make YOU feel guilty for their actions.
He's not 5, he's 25. He's past the age for experimenting and mistakes.
He. Is. An. Addict.
Of course he still has a street mindset. Be honest with yourself about what is happening in front of your eyes. It's time to cut the apron strings. If he ends up homeless? Then, that's on him. Keeping him off the streets is enabeling him to continue doing drugs. Also be honest with him and what he does. The alcohol is there when he doesn't have drugs. He HAS to be high ALL the time.
Terrible thing's happens to good people all the time. You have ONLY TWO CHOICES. You either become a victor or a victim. True victims don't even like the label of victim.
Let's say your son was in combat, got severe ptsd from overseas, and cant cope with life, there are centers where he can seek treatment but, I haven't met many people with ptsd from war turning to drugs.
Maybe you've just spoiled him his entire life. Either way, he feels entitled to have you do his whims.
He has the energy to go out and get high but, doesn't have the energy to clean his own cloths. Why should he when you probably do it for him?
The more you "help" him the more dependent he will become on your help.
It doesn't seem like he has much going for him in terms of living a life you take pride in. He does NOT care what you think. It's an emotionally abusive relationship. If you don't do something for him, he will probably lash out and say "FINE THEN I'll just be homeless". Which makes you feel bad as a parent. But, you will resent him and he won't care. Do you truly think he cares what society thinks? No. We see people like you all the time. We don't pity you. Our children see a messed up man and he is their introduction to what drugs are. He is a walking advertisement and you're driving that advertisement all around town like a billboard. No, people have no pity. They find it sick because IT IS. They pull their children behind their backs to shield them from YOUR SON.
"Momma, why does that man look funny?"
-"Because honey, his mother didn't want him to grow up and be productive in society. She wanted him to stay a baby forever and she succeeded.
You want help? GO AND GET IT. You want your son to get better? STOP FEEDING HIS ADDICTIONS.
I mean, LOOK at your wording! "How do I CHOOSE to let him...."
Lady, if he wants to act like a child, TREAT him as such! "GO change your clothes or I'm leaving without you".
How hard is that? If you have a girl, you've said those exact words if her shirt/skirts were too short.
Tighten the reigns. You have to hide the money.
There is NO drug dealer out there that gives free drugs away. I find that statement to be a bold lie that you're not only telling yourself, but to the world. Also, people with higher intelligence with autism are twice as likely to become an addict. But, so do people like, me. Yet, I stay away from alcohol because alcoholism runs in the family. I also find it highly unlikely he has spectrum yet never has been diagnosed in 25 years. You're his caretaker are you also his Dr? Seems like it, since you allow him to go out in public strung out for people and children to see. Why are you embarrassed of him but, not yourself? You have to hold yourself accountable. The doctor's cannot assess him or his condition becuse drugs and alcohol plays a major role on how he acts. He has to be clean to get real help. I'm sure he's been in and out of rehab since he's been on the streets.
People who have aspergers, autism, adhd. Ptsd and people with high anxiety are all running candidates for addiction. But, it's up to them/me to decide to do drugs off the street. I know when I drink whiskey, I'm another person who would punch someone for looking at me sideways. Do I have a whiskey and coke in my hands? No! It comes down to having a choice. Every time he uses, he is choosing to do so. Every glass of alcohol he pours himself, he is not thinking about you. He's only thinking of himself. He's choosing to do this and YOU'RE choosing to allow it.
No Dr will test and treat anyone who self medicates. The reason is because drugs and alcohol effect everything from the inside out.
He has given up his right's when he became self reliant and depends on you. The better question you should be asking yourself and a psychologist is, "How am I able to have MY rights as I've given them up for my son?"
Want to be an actual parent? Lock him in his room and make him detox, then find a specialist that can diagnose him.
This isn't just your son's fault. You have played a major role.
You have abused your personal rights.
#4) I have the right not to take responsibility for people's behaviors, feelings or problems.
Any Dr will tell you, you NEED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for your OWN ACTIONS. His behavior is the product of what you've allowed to happen. You've allowed your own flesh and blood destroy YOUR personal bill of rights while, still questioning what his rights are?
That's how distorted your thinking is
Straight up talk from
-The world

June, 3 2010 at 7:01 pm

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.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 7 2017 at 8:55 pm

I agree with DHFabian!!!

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