One of the most common traits of those who have experienced addiction, trauma, or mental illness is that they feel as though their thoughts and feelings don’t matter. They feel as though what’s important to them is not important to anyone else. And this underlying feeling and belief in unworthiness can play a role in the development of an addiction.
For instance, if you believe that you’re not good enough or not worthy of having a happy life, you’re more likely to make choices that reflect this belief. You might, for instance, feel it’s okay to get drunk every night. You might continue to eat poorly, avoid exercising, and staying up all night before having to go to work the next morning. In other words, it’s typical for those who have beliefs about unworthiness to not know how to take care of themselves. It’s as though their life, including their thoughts, ideas, feelings, and body, don’t matter.
Learning About Happiness
However, one of the great things about recovery is that you learn quite the opposite. You learn that your life does matter. You learn that what you’re feeling and thinking has an effect on your own life and so, for that reason alone, they are worthy of paying attention to. However, they are also worthy of your attention because they are yours, and your life matters.
In fact, because your life matters, you have certain rights that perhaps you never learned. If your childhood was traumatic, chaotic, or in any way dysfunctional, you might have never learned about the rights you have, for simply being alive. The following rights were taken and adapted from The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Eugene Bourne.
You may want to read them and choose the ones that stand out for you. Perhaps you were taught growing up that anger wasn’t okay to express, when in fact it is. We simply need to learn how to express anger in healthy ways. However, as you’ll read below, you have the right to be angry.
- I have the right to ask for what I want.
- I have the right to say no to requests or demands I can’t meet.
- I have the right to change my mind.
- I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
- I have the right to follow my own values and standards.
- I have the right to express all of my feelings, both positive or negative.
- I have the right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe, or it violates my values.
- I have the right to determine my own priorities.
- I have the right not to be responsible for others’ behavior, actions, feelings or problems.
- I have the right to expect honesty from others.
- I have the right to be angry.
- I have the right to be uniquely myself.
- I have the right to feel scared and say “I’m afraid.”
- I have the right to say “I don’t know.”
- I have the right not to give excuses or reasons for my behavior.
- I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings.
- I have the right to my own needs for personal space and time.
- I have the right to be playful and frivolous.
- I have the right to be healthy.
- I have the right to be in a non-abusive environment.
- I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
- I have the right to change and grow.
- I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others.
- I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
- I have the right to be happy.
The Bill of Rights listed above are not only for those who want to be sober, happy, and healthy. They are for everyone. Every human being deserves to live a joyful and meaningful life.