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How To Free Yourself And Assert Your Rights; Part Two


Last week we discovered Anne Dickson’s list of rights as outlined in her book ‘Assertiveness and You: A Woman In Your Own Right’. These are intrinsic rights which we were all born with and in asserting these rights we recognise our own worth as dignified human beings. In fact, the very act of asserting these rights serves to boost our self-esteem. Let’s explore them in more detail to better understand them and the importance they hold in our lives.


“I have the right to state my own needs and set my own priorities as a person, independent from any roles that I may assume in my life.” This right recognises our existence beyond the roles we inhabit (whether they be that of a husband, wife, mother or father) and accepts we have priorities beyond the realms of those roles. We are all, at our core, individuals and this right highlights we should be treated as such. In truth, to have priorities for ourselves outside of the roles we inhabit is healthy as it promotes a sense of autonomy and individuality.


“I have the right to be treated with respect as an intelligent, capable and equal human being.” This is one of our most basic rights and yet one that is violated all too often. Absolutely all of us deserve to be treated with respect.


“I have the right to express my feelings.” However we may sometimes feel we were all born with worth and your feelings are just as valuable as anyone else’s. In expressing your feelings to others you are subconsciously communicating you positive self-worth. Indeed, the very act of others listening to your feelings is validating and may even contribute towards improving your self-esteem.


“I have the right to express my opinions and values.” We all have the right to our own opinions, beliefs and values. This may sound simple, perhaps even obvious, but all too often others try to impress their opinions, beliefs and values upon us, negating our right to our own opinions, beliefs and values in the process. When they refuse to allow us the freedom to choose our own opinions, beliefs and values they are violating our rights on a fundamental level. If this right is violated frequently and over a prolonged period of time it can lower our self-esteem and can even lead to depression in some severe cases. If we are to maintain a healthy sense of self this right must be protected.


“I have the right to say ‘no’ and ‘yes’ for myself.” When others say no and yes for us they are making decisions for us based upon their priorities and values. It is our fundamental right to make our own decisions based upon our own priorities and values. When others violate this right it disempowers us, and this silently communicates to others, and to ourselves, that we are incapable of making decisions – which is a complete fallacy! If this right is violated over time it can reduce our self-esteem and so it is critical we assert our right to say no and yes for ourselves.


“I have the right to make mistakes and forgive myself.” Every person without exception makes mistakes and this right reinforces the right to make those mistakes and forgive ourselves for doing so, understanding that no one is perfect. We also have the right to feel comfortable in admitting our mistakes to others.


“I have the right to change my mind.” Each of us has the right to change our mind no matter what the circumstance or reason.


“I have the right to say ‘I don’t understand’ and ask for more information.” Usually when we don’t understand we simply need further clarification. This right enables us to feel comfortable in admitting to when we don’t understand and feel confident in asking for more information.


“I have the right to ask for what I want.” This right highlights that our wants are just as valid as anyone else’s. We have every right to make reasonable requests of others and ask for what we want.


“I have the right to decline responsibility for other peoples problems.” Generally our own problems are enough to contend with without others imposing their problems onto us also. If others exclaim their problems to us we are within our rights to refuse responsibility for them. Depending on the situation we may not only take responsibility for others problems but try to rescue them too. However if this is the case, it is worth remembering that when we try to rescue others we may, in fact, be serving to disempower them.


“I have the right to deal with others without being dependent on them for approval.” This right reminds us that we do not need to seek the approval of others when dealing with them and frees us to deal with people according to our own set of values and beliefs.


In addition we have the right to be either miserable or cheerful no matter who we are with or wherever we are. We have the right to behave how we feel without having to act for other peoples benefit.


Next week we will explore how to empower ourselves to assert these rights which will serve to significantly boost our self-esteem.


What has been your experience of people violating your rights? Which rights struck a cord with you? Please comment and share your experiences with our community to gain encouragement and support from one another.




  1. List the top three rights which you find have been violated against you. 
  2. Out of the three rights choose one you would like to work on asserting next week.


Further resources:


‘A Woman In Your Own Right: Assertiveness and You’ by Anne Dickson, available on Amazon

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