Years ago when facilitating a young women’s life skills group, I would often include handouts and one was a list of Basic Human Rights (as seen below). As I recall, the group members would get very excited about reading over the list each time the handout was given. After they had a chance to read over the list, I would remind them that not only did the person holding the list have access to those rights but each person across from them also had access to those rights. It was then that the room would immediately become silent.
While we all have basic human rights, often times as individuals, we forget that each person we come in contact with has rights too. It is important to remember this when communicating with others. Often times when we arise in a conflict with someone, it can be resolved if we take a glance at the basic human rights and examine if we’ve violated one of these or feel that they might have violated one with us. After you are able to identify the breakdown in communication, you can start an open discussion and start to heal the relationship.
Basic Human Rights (this of course is not an all-inclusive list):
1. The right to have and express your own feelings and opinions
2. The right to be treated with respect
3. The right to feel and express anger
4. The right to say “no”
5. The right to set your own limits and priorities
6. The right to not live up to other people’s expectations of you
7. The right not to be “Superman, “Superwoman”, “Superboss”, Supermother”, etc.
8. The right to be treated with courtesy and respect
9. The right to ask for what you want and have your needs be as important as the needs of other people
10. The right to get what you pay for
11. The right to ask for help
12. The right to ask that others change their behaviors that violate your own rights and to have a preference about how others act
13. The right to make mistakes
14. The right to not be brilliant attractive, slim, and witty
15. The right to privacy
16. The right to forgive yourself
17. The right to forgive others
18. The right to change your mind
19. The right to not feel responsible for others’ feelings and behaviors
20. The right to choose not to assert yourself
Judith A. Belmont, M.S. (2006). 86 T.I.P.S. for the Therapeutic Toolbox.
Look over the list and consider how your life would be different if you followed them. Which rights would be the most difficult to apply? Feel free to contact me, or any one in our practice if you would like to learn more about developing a more authentic and fulfilling life through counseling. You can always start by practicing the Basic Human Rights.