Understand your Human Rights

As a human being, you have certain rights. You may not recognize those rights. Once you understand them, it’s easy to declare them and incorporate them into your life. The following list gives you permission to claim these rights.

These privileges can be given to you only by yourself. They are not guaranteed by law, by contract or by any formal body. They are rights you grant only to yourself out of recognition that:

  • You are as important and worthy a person as anyone else.
  • You are the only one responsible for yourself.
  • You are deserving of your own respect and appreciation.

1. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to decide your own behavior and thoughts: to offer no reasons or excuses to justify them.

Example: “I think I should fix breakfast for my husband. Others don’t agree. I don’t have to defend myself. This is my decision.”

2. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to decide what is good for you. You have the right to use your own judgment in deciding which needs are the most important for you to meet.

Example: “I feel better when I go to bed late and sleep late in the morning.”

 “To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves ―there lies the great, singular power of self-respect.” ―  Joan Didion

3. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to be wrong. To expect you will be right all the time is unrealistic. You do not need to be perfect. You have the right to make mistakes and be responsible for the consequences. You have the right to not feel guilty when you’ve done nothing wrong.

Example: “I backed the car into the garage. I wasn’t paying attention. I have never had an accident before. I know that I will have to pay the insurance deductible and get the garage repaired.”

4. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to say, “I don’t know,” or “I don’t understand.”

You may believe you must anticipate or feel what others are feeling. You have the right not to be able to read another’s mind. Others may try to manipulate you by making you feel guilty.

Example: “You should understand what I’m feeling.”

5. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to be the final judge of what you do, how you think, who you are.

Example: “I know that you do not agree with me, and that’s okay. I still have to live with my decisions.”

“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” ―  Alice Walker

 6. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to do what works for you. Everyone is different and you have the right to be different. What works for someone else may not work for you.

 7. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to judge, to decide whether you are responsible for another person’s problems and for finding solutions to those problems. You do not need to take the blame for their actions.

Example: “You made me do it.” Do not accept that. They are accountable for their actions, as you are accountable for your actions. You do not have to feel embarrassment for the actions of a spouse. Your spouse is responsible for his or her actions. This also applies to grown children.

8. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to be inconsistent and illogical. You do not need to justify your decisions or actions. You have the right to make no excuses. When you justify your position or actions, you are silently giving the other person the right to decide if your actions were acceptable.

Example: “I know that it would be sensible to save for my retirement, but that big screen TV is on sale and I’ve decided to buy it.” Period. Leave it at that.

9. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to not please everyone.

Example: “I know that you don’t agree with me and are annoyed with me, but I have to do what I think is best for me.”

10. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to change your mind.

Example: “I know that I said something different yesterday. Since then, I have studied the situation and have a different opinion.”

11. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to be independent of the good will of others. You do not need others to agree with you. A person may relay the message that he will not like you if there is conflict. That is this person’s choice. You do not have to participate.

12. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to say, “No!” If someone loads work, an attitude, anything on you, you do not have to accept it.

13. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT not to care and to say, “I don’t care.” You have the right to not care if you aren’t perfect; if your hair is too short and someone wants it longer, or if it’s too long and someone wants it shorter.

14. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to take your time (as much as necessary) in replying to other people’s questions and requests. In fact, you do not have to answer the other person at all.

Example: “I may have to get back to you on that.” Or, “I can’t believe you would ask me that!”

15. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to need and ask for help.

16. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to decide that your needs are as important as the needs of other people.

 17. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to ask that your opinions be given the same respect and consideration that others’ opinions are given.

 18. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to ask that you be treated as a capable human adult and not be patronized.

 19. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to maintain your self-respect no matter how you are treated by others. Remarks meant to insult or humiliate you, criticisms, rejections, and even mental or physical assault, do not have to damage your opinion of yourself.

 20. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to whatever feelings you have. Your feelings belong to you, and there is never a right or wrong way to feel about any particular situation. You feel what you feel.

21. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to choose not to exercise any of these rights (except #2, 19, and 20) without losing self-respect in any situation where something important to you is at risk. (The three exceptions are private ways of thinking about yourself and therefore not subject to outside interference.)

Knowing these rights and recognizing they are yours helps you incorporate them into your life. They will encourage you and assist you to recognize your value as a person.

These rights are not from me, the author. They have been helping people for at least forty years. Take them to heart. Use them and remind yourself of them as needed.


  • What rights were surprises to you?
  • What rights will you begin to exercise that you have not used before?
  • What rights made you want to jump up and say, “Right on!”
  • Will you respect these rights in others?

©B. Eddy

[box type=”bio”] Betty Eddy is a published author and member of the Netiv community. Her work as a life coach has given her unique insight into self help. In her book “Untying the Knots of Life” she deals with concepts which guides the reader though self discovery. [/box]

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