Our Blog

By Marcia Murphy, MA

Relationships are essential for us to feel a sense of belonging and connection, yet they can be tricky. When a relationship becomes unhealthy, typically the balance of give and take is skewed. One or the other may feel they do not have a voice with their partner, friend, family, coworker, etc. and because of this, may begin to doubt their sense of self-worth. Sometimes it is easier to just give into the other to avoid conflict and keep the peace. However, it is important for us to remember that we, as do all human beings, have certain “unalienable” interpersonal rights. Here are 5 items to add to your “Bill of Rights” in your relationships.

1. You have the right to be treated with respect

We should be treated with dignity and fairness in our relationships. Another person does not have the authority or right to control us, nor dictate what we should do or who we should be. Every person has been created with a purpose – therefore no one is worthless. Rather, we should treat each other as if we are all precious jewels, with care and respect.

2. You have the right to feelings and opinions

Every person has a mind and experiences emotions, and so we all must have the space to express our thoughts and opinions, even if others may disagree with us. Doing so respectfully opens the door to greater understanding and connection. It is only when we are disrespectful and closed off to our differences that conflict and adversity arises. As such, we should also be free to express our feelings, both positive and painful. When we have a safe space to do so, we strengthen the bonds with those we care about and who care for us.

3. You have the right to boundaries

Boundaries can be difficult for those of us who struggle with wanting to be “nice”, as boundaries can seem mean and harsh. Yet when we allow others to step over our boundaries, then we begin to lose our voice and identity. Setting boundaries does not have to be cruel, just firm and clear. When boundaries are expressed and respected, we can be assured that the relationship is healthy, safe and strong, which leads to enjoyment with each other.

4. You have the right to say no

Just like setting boundaries, saying no can be foreign to many of us, as we want to please others by being agreeable. However, there are times when a “no” is necessary – for instance, when we are asked to go against our values or morals, when we are feeling anxious or even when we just do not have the time to possibly add one more thing to our schedule. The more in tune we are to ourselves, the more we are able to identify what is appropriate to engage in and what we need to say no to. As it has been said “No is a full sentence!”

5. You have the right to ask for what you want or need

Each and every one of us has certain needs and desires, and this should not be seen as wrong. We build healthy connections when we are able to express our needs and wants within relationships. This can be related to emotional needs, physical needs, spiritual needs – anything that helps us fully be the unique person we are. This goes for desires as well, however a caveat is that we do not have the right to impose these on others when our desires are opposed to theirs. This is where right #1 comes into play – to treat each other with respect for our differences.

People who are trustworthy will respect these rights, and in turn, you view others as having the same rights. When both people in a relationship of any type hold true to these, then we feel safe, valued and connected, genuinely respected for who we are. We grow in our self-worth and allow ourselves to build strong bonds with those in our lives. These 5 rights are just the beginning to building healthy relationships – what other rights would you add?


Find Your Worth

Have you let your rights slide in your relationships? Do you need help bringing them back into balance? We here at Lime Tree Counseling are here to help you build healthier relationships in all areas of your life. We offer online counseling in Pennsylvania, online counseling in North Carolina and in-person sessions in our Lower Gwynedd, PA office. Our caring counselors are experienced in couples counseling, grief counseling, anxiety therapy and trauma counseling. Reach out today and make an appointment for an intake session or a free 15 minute phone consultation. We look forward to working with you!