Updated: Apr 27, 2019
I often talk about the Law of Individual Inherent Rights, Responsibility & Authority. It is a term that, as far as I know, I invented. I have referenced it multiple times on episodes of The Last Symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder podcast (available on every major podcast platform of your preference), and I often talk about it on my Facebook education group. I emphasize it so often because it is the norm for those with the distorted perspectives of emotional disorders (such as Borderline Personality Disorder) to neither recognize this law, nor respect it. This law, or reality, must be clearly understood, valued, and lived in harmony with, before anybody can truly enjoy genuine emotional health.
Furthermore, this is one of those few laws which can be easily grasped, instantly, then applied, and begin providing immediate, measurable results. (Some other principles of emotional health, by contrast, require some time to fully appreciate the reality of before one can begin experiencing the full benefits from.)
This article is meant as a detailed examination of the Law of Individual Inherent Rights, Responsibility, and Authority. It goes like this: Every other person on earth is the weather. You have no control over what it will do. The weather is going to do whatever the weather does, no matter what. It’s entirely out of your hands. You only have inherent rights, responsibility, and authority over yourself. This isn’t just a clever way of thinking, it’s reality. Don't believe me? There's another, easier name for the Law of Individual Inherent Rights, Responsibility, and Authority. Do you know what it is?
Now consider, (if you are an atheist, bear with me for a very brief moment), that God did not create the first man as a pre-programmed robot. No, God gave him an unbelievable gift: Free will.
If not even God himself lays claim over your individual inherent rights, responsibility, and authority, who else can? Nobody. Not your husband, not your wife, not your adult parents if you are an adult free agent - nobody. And that means nobody. The Law of Individual Inherent Rights, Responsibility, and Authority does not describe a clever way of thinking that I, Brian Barnett, conjured up. No, it merely puts a name to a universal reality that you have already always been living under. Until now, you have either been living in harmony with it, or you have not; and if you have not, this explains a lot of the disorder in your life. So, as with the weather, there are certain things that fall within your inherent rights, responsibility, and authority in every situation. What can you do when you look out the window and see that it’s going to rain? Do you go outside and yell at the clouds? Pace around in anger? Why? What sense does this make? It’s a total waste of energy and emotion. Instead, doesn’t it make more sense to use that energy to go get an umbrella? Or a raincoat? Or to plan a day of indoor activities? This is what you possess an inherent ability to affect: Anything that involves you and your decisions and actions, or failure to act, with attention directed toward you yourself. In short, anything at all that has to do with your personal life. In turn, every single human-being walking around on the earth also lives with these inherent rights and restrictions. They are the weather to you, and you are the weather to them. If you see in the forecast that it is going to be sweltering hot, do you call up the government and complain about it? Why? What point is there to it? Instead, use that same energy to look at yourself, and what falls within your inherent rights, responsibility, & authority. Go get your shorts and tee-shirt and leave the pants at home. Or wear that light summer skirt that I like so much on you, instead. Plan to spend the day in air conditioning.
How does this all apply to real life? Well, too many are concerned, illogically, about what other people think, or say, or do, or do not do. It’s always other people, isn’t it? It’s a human tendency; but especially, and overwhelmingly the tendency of emotionally-unhealthy people to always be worrying about somebody else. Why? What inherent rights do you have over anybody else? You don’t have. What inherent responsibility do you have over anybody else? You don’t have. What inherent authority do you have over anybody else? You don’t have. You are like a person standing outside, staring up at the clouds, your face red from exertion, trying to control the behavior of the weather with your willpower. What an idiotic waste of time, emotion, and energy.
I get it, people do things you don’t like. So?
You do things people don’t like, too.
They are the weather to you, and you are the weather to them. See, they also can’t live your life for you. Only you can live your life.
Each one of us exists in a circle. Imagine a little circle drawn around your feet in the sand. Everywhere we go, no matter the circumstances, the circle goes with us.
Your inherent rights, responsibility, and authority apply to anything within that circle, and to literally nothing and nobody else. Again, it bears repeating, because some people tend to think their relationship status gives them a pass: You have no inherent rights, responsibility, or authority over your wives, nor over your husbands, nor over your adult children, nor over your adult parents, nor over your girlfriends, nor over your boyfriends. They can choose at any time to totally remove you from their lives entirely if they so wish. Remember that. Just as you have complete and total inherent (which means that nobody has to grant it to you, it's just yours) universal free will, so do they. If they are with you, or if they allow you to be in their lives, it is because they themselves are choosing to allow it.
Every time you get caught up in trying to operate outside of your circle, in trying to step outside of your circle in the sand, and into another person’s circle, this is a violation. You are fighting against reality. When you fight against reality, guess who loses?
So a lot of parents join my Facebook education group (Brian Barnett: Borderline Personality Disorder) because they want to know how to ‘help’ their adult children; children that these parents themselves are guilty for emotionally harming, whether they are aware of it, or accepting of it, or not.
I am happy to welcome anybody into the group for purposes of educating themselves. At the same time, while these parents are looking for ways to ‘help’ their adult children, where is their focus not directed, which is the only place it has any business being directed? Yes, on themselves.
By failing to do this, they are abusing and neglecting the only inherent rights, responsibility, and authority they have. They have stepped outside of their circle and are attempting, in violation of universal norms, to enter the circle of somebody else. They are not looking at themselves, at their failures and disordered thinking. They are not worrying about themselves, making honest evaluations about themselves, and fixing themselves.
The period they had for ‘helping’ their children, in the unhealthy sense that they have in mind, (the same children to whom they themselves caused emotional unhealth in the first place) ended the moment those children were no longer dependents. Regardless, do you know what sort of ‘help’ your children needed while they were still dependent on you?
For you to identify and address your own issues, so that your emotional unhealth wouldn’t negatively affect them. And guess what is the only sort of ‘help’ that they need or want from you now? For you to identify and address your own issues. So you see, no matter what, your use of ‘helping’ other people as a way to avoid ever focusing on yourself, and fixing yourself, really is inexcusable.
Adulthood means that your children are now independent free agents, the same as you. They now enjoy the full, inherent rights, responsibility, and authority over their lives, the same as you get to enjoy over your life.
Such parents as in my example do not understand how offensive their ‘help’ is to begin with. The very people responsible for the emotional neglect and abuse that their now-adult children are struggling to cope with, to unravel and fix, are the same people now trying to tell them what to do about it. It makes me think of a rapist who goes back and tells his rape victim, “You know, you should really go do something about that depression you’re now dealing with. It ain’t healthy.” This is obnoxiously offensive.
Nobody who is trying to get a handle on his or her problems wants to hear advice from the person who is the very cause of those problems. Secondly, nobody who is trying to get a handle on his or her problems wants advice from anybody who has greater problems themselves, and yet is doing less, or nothing, to address it.
The rapist has no business involving himself with what the victim does or does not do, or how he or she does it. He’s got his own issues, doesn’t he? Like, worrying about why he rapes people. Like, recognizing his own problems. Like, getting help for himself. This is the only place his attention and concern has any right to be. But instead of taking care of the one thing he should be taking care of, what does he do instead? He spends his time thinking about what his victim should be doing. The whole thing is indescribably, incomparably offensive, and yet these parents are blind as to why. They write to me all the time, upset that I have the audacity to describe the reality that they have no interest in seeing.
If they had valued the Law of Inherent Rights, Responsibility, and Authority twenty years ago, their focus would have always been in the right place, and they might have fixed their own emotional issues, and thus have prevented negatively and harmfully affecting their children, and then their children wouldn’t be in the predicament they’re now in, would they? The only thing your children want from you now is to worry about, and fix, yourself.
Many others come to me because they want to ‘help’ their girlfriends or boyfriends.
Tell me, while you are busy doing that, who is taking responsibility for your bus that is speeding along with no driver? Forget for a minute the reality that recovery only works when it is self-initiated and genuine, anyway; that only each individual, himself or herself, can bring about their own recovery. The question I have for the moment is this: Who chooses to be in, or stay in, relationships with emotionally-unhealthy people? Nobody who is emotionally healthy, I assure you.
Emotionally-healthy people do not purposely choose to get into relationships with emotionally-unhealthy people. They just don’t. The very act of doing so is an emotionally-harmful, stupid act, committed against oneself. It is the opposite of how emotional health behaves. No emotionally-healthy person purposely chooses to get into a situation that is clearly going to result in frustration, anger, pain, and possibly heartbreak in their life. Authentic emotionally-healthy people don’t ignore ongoing warning signs in a courtship for ‘love’. First of all, that’s not real love. Secondly, if you believe it’s real love, you need to take a break from the overwhelmingly-unhealthy ideals about love that are communicated in today's movies and popular music.
So, you have no inherent right to be focused on your girlfriend’s problems. Yes, I realize you care. But your care alone doesn't grant you the right, responsibility, or authority. Do you know the only person who has the right, the responsibility, and the authority? She herself. You’ve got your own issues to stop neglecting, don’t you? Like, identifying what your defect is that makes you think committing to somebody who is emotionally unhealthy isn’t such a bad idea.
As I've already clearly demonstrated, there exist no exceptions to the Law of Inherent Rights, Responsibility, and Authority, except for those with minor children. And even then, they are limited inherent rights, and they only exist in combination with grave responsibility, as opposed to the full rights we have over ourselves, individually.
That circle around your feet where your inherent rights, responsibility, and authority end does not change based on your relationships; on who you are, or whether you’re some lady’s mother, or whether you’re married or not. Folks like to believe these things change the formula, but they do not.
For example, marriage does not mean that your husband suddenly has magical powers to decide for you how you decide to live life. Everything you do, think, decide, and feel, is still entirely you. If you adhere to your marriage vows, for example, it’s not because anybody has the power to make you do it. No, it’s still just you, choosing to do it.
Is somebody texting you and you don’t like it? It’s only happening because you are allowing it. You can’t control the other person; you can’t make them not send messages. But you can control who you accept text messages from. It’s within your circle in the sand. Choosing who to ignore is within your circle in the sand. Choosing who you will send text messages to, or not, is within your circle in the sand. Other people’s behaviors and choices are not within your circle in the sand.
Your mother is a negative force in your life, but you don’t know how to ‘make her’ treat you with respect? Stop screaming at the clouds and make a decision for yourself. Look at what you are doing or not doing. You have the right, the authority, and the responsibility for deciding who you allow yourself to continue being influenced or affected by; who you allow to be in your life. You do not have any rights, responsibility, or authority, over how your mother chooses to be and live. So your decisions have to be based on the reality of the situation, not on the distorted idea of changing people.
Your adult son is refusing to go to therapy? That’s his right. He’s responsible for his life, not you. You lost that right and responsibility the day he became a man. You need to place your focus in the only place you have any business placing it, and work on your own issues. It’s almost a certainty that you have bigger problems than he does. One possible positive side effect of this is that your son may be so touched by your willingness to identify and work on your own issues, that your example may encourage him to do the same for himself. This is one way you can demonstrate genuine love toward him: Focus on, and fix, whatever is wrong within your circle in the sand.
If you haven’t already seen the reality I am describing, this law is worth spending a lot of time thinking about until the reality of it becomes as clear as day. Then, if you haven’t already done so, start applying it and living in harmony with it. It is liberating! There is no reason for anybody to continue living with the ridiculous frustrations and angst caused by the failure to respect the Law of Individual Inherent Rights, Responsibility, and Authority.