By Melissa Cohen



The Personal Bill of Rights

with revisions by Melissa Cohen

Please note that I put a * next to all of the statements that I changed more than “and it is okay,” and put a ** next to all of the statements that I added.

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

If you have been having issues with what you’ve been  attracting into your life, this Personal Bill of Rights may help highlight areas in need of attention.  I added, “and it is okay” to every statement because that is what I needed to make changes/shifts in my life.  Although the rights above seem reasonable, many of the statements above don’t feel okay in my gut because they confront my accommodating, I’ve got to make everyone happy NO MATTER WHAT, victim self.  #2 was, and sometimes still is, a really hard one for me. I added “I can” to the sentence because I realized it was okay for me to say no to requests even if I could do them. If you are a recovering people pleaser, an “I’ll do it”, while feeling totally put out, annoyed and resentful person, and/or a victim of requests which feel like demands person, you may really need the extra validation that the above rights are all okay.

As for # 20, #26, and #29 they are “rights” that I have struggled with and thought they might be helpful to add.  #28 was thrown in as an attempt to add humor and a smile to all of this.

I think #20 and #26 are self evident, but feel that #29 might need some explaining.  So here goes. It is my opinion that one of the biggest hindrances to personal growth is judgment, of self and others. We really have the right to stay right where we are in life. No fixing needed! Because I want self awareness, better communication skills, the ability to say NO without pangs of guilt, and many other things does not mean that’s what you want for yourself.  So, what do YOU want?  Are you living someone else’s life?  Are you doing things someone else thinks is best? Are you living in the shadow of someone’s opinion? What do you really think about yourself? Your life? If you really want changes in your life, it’s time to hold a microscope to your “beliefs” and figure out if they are yours or if they were adopted to accommodate someone else.  Do you want to keep them? Are these beliefs helping or hindering you? As the Mayor in the movie Ghostbusters so eloquently said, “Being miserable and treating other people like dirt is every New Yorker’s God-given right.”  Knowing that being miserable or being happy is a choice/right feels very empowering to me. Grab a hold of your rights and be who you want to be.

The original The Personal Bill of Rights is fromThe Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, by Edmund Bourne, Ph.D., 1990, New Harbinger Publications, Oakland, CA..  Please reference for further info.



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