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This is one of a series of articles in Lesson 4 - optimize your
relationships. These articles build on Lessons 1 - 3, and prepare you
for Lesson 5 (evolve a nourishing family) and Lesson 6 (effective parenting).
How's your self esteem and self confidence? Low >
Average > High > It depends on _____.
Typical kids fortunate enough to grow up in a
high-nurturance environment enter adulthood with reasonably good senses of their and others'
human dignity and self worth. Typical
survivors of low-nurturance early years often start independent living with shaky,
situational, or low senses of their own worth and integrity. Many can be
Having low self-worth has
many toxic effects. One is not being able to maintain a genuine mutual-respect attitude about some or all other people. Another is
having major difficulty in
validating and asserting your own needs, opinions, and boundaries with other people effectively.
Intentionally evolving a Bill of Personal Rights can help to minimize both
these handicaps - if the person has made significant progress
freeing her or his
true Self to guide and harmonize their crew of
Use a Bill of
Personal Rights to...
boundaries (security), and to...
avoid being used, discounted, neglected,
or attacked by other people.
Thoughtfully evolved by their resident
true Self and wise advisors, a declaration of personal rights can clarify and remind any
person (like you) of
their legitimate values, opinions, and needs as unique, worthy
explicit, authentic PersonalBill
of Rights is one foundation for effective
which are essential for successful interpersonal problem-solving. Kids of any age can have a Bill of Personal Rights too!
Do you know anyone
that doesn't merit a declaration of personal dignity respected by you?
this sample Bill as "wet clay" from which to craft your own.
For authenticity and effectiveness,
your Bill of Personal Rights should come from
+ + +
Sample Bill of Personal Rights
These statements will
clarify and remind me of my rights as a worthy, dignified human being. I was not
taught some of these beliefs as a child, and can strengthen my belief in them today. Affirming my
personal rights repeatedly will help free me of old inhibitions and distorted beliefs, and
empower me to be firmly assertive (vs. aggressive or submissive) with others in a clear,
positive, respectful way.
It's healthy for me to honor and respect my own
needs as much as I do those of every other adult and child. I can
legitimately proclaim and act on these rights without
shame, guilt, or
fear in any
way that doesnt interfere with other adults and kids equal rights.
need no one's permission to adopt and live from these beliefs.
No matter what my age,
experience, or situation, I am a rare, unique,
Being - as is every other person. I bring a blend of talents, knowledge, and motives to the world like no other
living or dead person. I honor and respect my own uniqueness - and that of each other
person in my life. I claim the right to be
ME, without explanation, apology, or
defense. I am responsible for being
me at all times.I
affirm others' equalright to be their own unique
Declare My Right to...
1)Experienceall my own emotions.
They are a natural part of being human. They include fear, sadness, anger, shame, uncertainty, confusion,
joy, lust, hope, pride, happiness, etc. - even "numbness." I am not bad,
weak, or wrong for feeling, and
there is no such thing as a
express my feelings to others if and
when I choose to, without feeling obligated, guilty, or ashamed. I am
responsible for this choice but not for others' reactions.
3) Say "Yes," "No," "I can't," and "I don't know,"
undue guilt, shame, or anxiety - and to be responsible
for the consequences.
4)Choose if, when, and how to meet others’
expectations of me.
if I choose not to meet them, I need not feel guilty unless I've
clearly committed to do so. I am responsible for such choices and their consequences.
5)Choose my own friendsand acquaintances, and
how and when to
spend time with them. I may justify these choices to others, but I dont
6)Make my own mistakes, and learn from them if I
7)Choose if, when, and how to
tell others clearly
how their actions are affecting me - and to take responsibility for doing
8)Earn and maintain my ownself-respect and
pride, rather than depending on other people’s opinions of me.
9)Seek and accept or decline help without undue shame,
anxiety, or guilt;
10)Give others the responsibilityfor their ownbeliefs,
decisions, feelings, and thoughts, without feeling guilty, anxious, or selfish.
Feeling responsible for other able adults often burdens me, and
blocks their growing
And I declare my personal right to ...
Seek situations, environments, and
relationships that I feel are healthy, growthful, and nurturing for me. I
may - but don't have to - explain or justify
these decisions to other people.
12)Be spontaneous, play, and have
13)Develop and grow at my own pace, and in the directionsI feel
are best for me. This does not mean I ignore other's similar rights or
14)Appreciate my own efforts and enjoy my
achievementswithout guilt, anxiety, or shame.
Normal(vs. excessive) pride is not a sin, and never was.
15)Act to fill my own wants and
rather than demand or expect others
to do so for me;
16)Periods of guilt-free rest, refreshment, reflection, and relaxation.
these are as productive for me as times of work and action.
17)Choose whom I will
how much, and with what;
18)Takeon only as much as I can handle at any given time, and to tell
others if I feel overloaded, without shame, anxiety, or guilt;
19)Nurture, love, and value myself as much as I do others who
are special to me. Being "Self-ish" (attending my own needs and
nurturance) is healthy and good - as long as I don't hinder, minimize, or disrespect
rights to care for themselves.
paths and goals I wish for my life, and to pursue them
without guilt, shame, or the need to explain or justify them to others;
And I also claim my unarguable rights to...
21)Take all the timeI need to
evaluate and make important life-decisions. If this stresses others,
they are responsible for asserting their needs and I'm responsible
for balancing them with mine.
22)Carefor my body and Spirit lovingly and respectfully, in my own
23)Choose my own
limits, and act on them as I see fit.
24)Distinguish between who other people
am (or was) and who I really am.
25) Beheard and clearly understood.
My thoughts, feelings,
needs, dreams, and dignity are as valid, worthy, and important as anyone elses.
26)Defineexcellence in any situation,
and to choose if, when, and how to strive for this standard or not.
27)Choose how to balance and spend my time, and take the
short and long-term consequences;
respectfully what I expect of them,
realizing they legitimately may or may not choose to fulfill these
29)Choose how and when to peacefully fill my
spiritual needs, even if
my choices conflict with others values or wishes. I do not have the right to force my spiritual or religious views, values, or
practices on other people, nor do I grant others the right to force
theirs on me.
And I further
affirm my unarguable right to...
30) Heal psychological
wounds over time, and replace unhealthyinner beliefs I’ve lived by with more nurturing and productive ones.
31)Listen to and
"inner voices" with interest and
respect, and to sort out my true voices from others
Have my physical, emotional, and spiritual privacy and
boundaries respected by others. I accept my
responsibility to respect theirs as well.
Ask (vs. demand) others how they
feel about me,
what they think about me, and what they need from me. They may
choose to comply or not.
34)Decide if, when, and how to
forgive (a) mymistakes and (b) any hurts received from others. I affirm that forgiveness promotes
healing, health, growth, and
35)Work respectfully and peacefully to
changelaws, rules, or
feel are unjust or harmful to me and/or others.
use my Bill of Personal
Rights, and learn how this affects me and others. I affirm others' equal right and
opportunity to do the same or not.
37) Decide if, how, and when I am to die. I do
grant well-intentioned others to decide these for me. My life is mine.
Rewrite parts or all of this sample to make it
yours. Read each statement out loud, and reflect: "Do I
really believe this (or
something like it) now?" If the answer is "No" or "I'm not
sure," get clear on what you do believe. Take your time.
Your set of basic
un/conscious attitudes and beliefs ("rules") shape your
relationships and daily choices and achievements!
childhood adults' responsibility
to have taught you their versions of your Rights to get you started in
Then accept youradultresponsibility to decide if what they taught you fits you well, or if you need to adopt new standards. When is the
or best time to do this? What if you don't?
sample Bill and thoughtfully consider whether each of your key childhood
caregivers would agree to each Right. Option: if they're available, give
them a copy of this and discuss it with them.
Meditate on these
for guidance and clarity after you finish this.
that changing basic beliefs
is a core attitude change. The beliefs that shape your daily decisions and actions are held by the
subselves which rule your
personality. Forging and consistently acting on your personal rights
and identity (your integrity) is most likely
if your Self (capital "S")
leads your other subselves.
(your ruling subselves) don't genuinely believe rights like those above, an option
is to identify which subself holds (or
doubts) that belief, and learn what it would
take for him or her to change it.
your version of this Bill somewhere in plain view
where you can refresh
yourself daily on what it stands for.
Give a copy of this to each
older child and adult in your home and/or encourage them to evolve their own Bill.
Respect their right to do so or not.
If you participate in a
support or other group (like a church congregation), consider showing
this sample Bill to them and discussing it.
If you care about
someone with "low self esteem" (excessive shame and guilt), weigh the
pros and cons of giving them a copy of this. Caution - if they're ruled
false self, doing this may
seem to be a put down ["You can't define your own rights, so I'll do it
for you -
Consider if and how you
adults wish to incorporate your family members' Bills of Rights in any
family mission statement and
job descriptions (responsibilities) you evolve and use.
Refer to this Bill any time you feel major
internal and interpersonal
to help clarify each person's basic rights as you work together for
and notice your thoughts and feelings. Are you motivated to act on some
of these options?
They feel very
different than intact one-home biofamilies. Bioparents and stepparents
("co-parents") and their
kids are all confronted with a
concurrent array of challenging personal and shared
tasks which must be mastered over many
years for personal and stepfamily stability and satisfying
relationships. As co-parents work to evolve a high-nurturance stepfamily
they can easily get overwhelmed by many concurrent and alien roles,
relationships, and merger-tasks.
This risk of overwhelm, confusion, and self-doubt is
specially true for novice stepmoms and stepdads, who probably have never
had to "do" this complicated, alien family role before. It's also
specially true for shame-based
(wounded) co-parents. They are
rarely used to being aware of and living consistently from their
individual rights as a worthy, dignified person.
complex, alien challenge of evolving
effective stepfamily child discipline forces co-parents and kids
to confront their individual values and beliefs about authority, power,
and personal rights.Frustrated co-parents can often
lose sight of minor and grown kids' personal rights, as well as their
own. And a normal part of being a dependent child is to minimize
or ignore the rights of caregivers, in the daily struggle to overcome
feeling incompetent, self-doubting, and powerless, and to gain the
freedom to decide "things" for themselves.
- has each child in your life ever had an adult encourage them to start
building a clear sense of their own core rights as unique, worthy
persons? Did anyone do that for you as a child? If not, what has
that meant to you?