Entitlement is Not Entirely Dangerous

by Bill on May 16, 2014

Wanting a Need is not Entitlement Wanting a Need is not Entitlement

There is a general feeling in many parts of society where those who feel they are entitled to something are looked down upon. While this can be true, there are also examples just as common where entitlement should be given and is required for survival. Here’s my take on this.

Why the Hell Does Entitlement Matter

Entitlement has had a bad name for itself for a long time. The reasoning points back to the examples of the proud, the famous, people with their hand out expecting more regardless of what is given them. It’s basically seen as a lost sense of reality.

So what does entitlement have to do with dollars and debt? It has to do both with how you view yourself and your finances, and how you present yourself and your needs to others.

The Entitlement Trap

Most western religions, Christianity included, teach that you should be humble and happy with what little is handed to you.

“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” – Mark 5:5

But, and this is a serious but, what this means is to be grateful for the things you have – not to settle for the scraps thrown to you by others. There’s the difference.

There was a time, back in 1991, when I was homeless. I slept in church basements, ate at soup kitchens, and stole discarded doughnuts from the dumpsters behind coffee shops. I ate the scraps of what was offered or tossed out. Was I grateful for those scraps? Hell yes. Did I deserve only those scraps? No. And this is where people get caught up with the entitlement trap.

People are entitled to enough food to survive. In the same regard, people are also entitled to an income that supports their needs. Notice I said needs, not wants. If you have an income that is not supporting, or barely supporting, your needs you are entitled to earn more.

But how much more? If you have no true sense of what you deserve, you allow people to give you anything they want because they can. You end up taking scraps and barely getting enough income to support yourself. You must know how much you really need to sustain a viable life for you. Yes I fancied up the text for a reason there.

Take lawyers for example. Most people would say they shouldn’t make boatloads of money. Most people also don’t know that lawyers are one of the highest under earning groups out there. The overhead needed to do the job is often not seen. Kind of like auto mechanics; there’s lots of tools and support items they need just to do their job. So these essential things must be taken care of, along with normal basic household issues such as insurance, house payment, food and medical.

Again from experience I can tell you scraps aren’t all that great. Whether it be food or other handouts you develop a huge sense of embarrassment over time from having to have nothing else. It starts out as gratitude for having what little you have; but then you gain a sense of knowing that this just isn’t enough. You know you need more, deserve more, just to stay where you are. You see others around you who have what you want, have enough, and keep getting more.  These are the people society in general seem to develop a bad taste for, because these are the people for whom continuously stick their hand out asking for more. Yet since you are in the same category: job, skills, training whatever; you are deemed as having an attitude of entitlement same as them.

The difference is that you are entitled to live, same as the rest of the world. You are entitled to having enough to support yourself. And yet you can’t find it within yourself to defend this position to others. So you continue to get along on scraps.

Have a Healthy Sense of Entitlement

So you know you deserve more. You know if you work for it, ask for it, and have a proper definition for why you need it, you should get it. This is a healthy sense of entitlement.

How do you develop a healthy sense of entitlement? Here’s a short how-to on that.

1.      Create a set of lists – set values for yourself so you know what hurts and what makes you happy; then aim for the latter while working to eliminate the former.

2.      Create boundaries for yourself – stop accepting whatever comes your way; if it doesn’t help, or causes pain, or isn’t enough don’t take it.

3.      Create a sense of self – only you know what you truly need; there is no way in hell anyone else can, or should, tell you what you aught to have or expect from your life. Take that power back.

4.      Create a set of lists of your surroundings – make a list of the people and places that are in your life. Study the list for what causes pain, stress and anxiety. Part of a healthy sense of entitlement is the fact that you deserve to not to have stress and anxiety constantly in your life.

5.      Build or find a support system – most often those of us living on scraps have toxic opinions and ideas of how things should be floating around us. Get rid of those and the people who generate them. Find people, groups or individuals, who are supportive of what you need to succeed in your life.

The point is that you must begin to demand and be ready to gain what is better for you. Make demands upon yourself to make changes within yourself.

Avoiding a False Sense of Entitlement

James Lehman, MSW, has a good way of defining the difference between healthy entitlement and a false sense of entitlement. According to Lehman who writes the following in his blog post from Empowering Parents ….

“People who have this mindset often hold a negative view of hard work – they put it down and ridicule it. They think they deserve things they haven’t earned, and they can develop contempt for people who work to earn things”  

The danger is not in feeling entitled at all; the danger is in feeling a false entitlement.

Here’s a quote from Criss Jami,

“Man is not, by nature, deserving of all he wants. When we think that we are automatically entitled to something, that is when we start walking all over others to get it.”

Enter the Poor Sense of Entitlement

Yes, there is a poor sense of entitlement. This is the person who constantly sees people through the views and opinions of society, giving them a value. That value includes what certain people deserve out of life, both good and bad. If you think you are worse than others, you will develop a poor sense of entitlement; meaning you don’t think you deserve anything good enough.

It is when you realize that you exist on the same level as everyone else, and are entitled the same amount of happiness and potential as everyone else, you make good attempts to go for the things you want. When you do this, doors open, opportunities start showing up and things get better over time.

This is not a get-rich-quick thing; not by any means will you get a healthy sense of entitlement overnight. But knowing, and believing, you are good enough will begin to be picked up by others similar to someone who people know is confident or happy with their life.

Image Source: Getty Images

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