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Believing in Your Rights

What are your rights? I don’t mean regarding voting or free speech. Rather, what are the unalienable human rights you believe you have? My hunch is that you aren’t convinced you have very many, and that’s why you spend so much time trying to establish that you do—with food, your emotions, with people, and engaging in behaviors which are nothing but self-destructive. Sadly, all your chronic efforts to prove to yourself and others that you have rights only attests to the fact that you’re not convinced.

I see this behavior all the time in the food arena. You eat something you really don’t want when you’re not hungry to prove it’s your choice and that you can. Of course it’s your choice. As an adult, who else’s would it be? If you’re frequently/always in “prove it” mode, you’re reacting against the past. Okay, your parents were controlling, rigid, invalidating, and undermined your choices or desire to think for yourself. So you had to do things their way or else and that left you feeling powerless and angry. You had to clean your plate or were forbidden to eat junk food. That was then and this is now. Approaching life having to prove something is like driving with a chip on your shoulder—it’s dangerous to make decisions when you’re caught up in rage or revenge.

People who know they have a right to speak up, eat what they want, and make their own decisions don’t run around making a fuss about it. Their rights are such a given that they never think about them. Of course, they can go to the gym (or not), visit Dad over the holidays (or not), let their boss know they’re overworked (or not), or stand up for themselves when their partner makes them angry (or not). Instead of acting based on showing the world they’re entitled to do one thing or another, they make decisions by assuming they have multiple options and choosing the best one for them.

Stop and think, what do you spend time trying to prove: that you can think for yourself, that you’re independent, that you’re not a push-over, that you know what’s best for you and don’t have to listen to anyone? To whom are you trying to show this: yourself, partner, friends, spouse, living parents, dead parents, siblings, grandparents? What will happen if they finally get that you have rights? What will happen if they never get it? The sad truth is that it’s obvious to everyone but you that you don’t believe you have rights. We’re all have ‘em by virtue of living on the planet. If you keep trying to prove it, you really don’t believe it, simply as that. Just because you have a right, however, doesn’t mean you have to exercise it. Start from the premise that you have rights, then make decisions about what’s best for you.