Today, I discuss how to combat entitlement.
What is Entitlement?
Entitlement is the state of having the right to something. If you visit a store and purchase an item, you are entitled to the ownership of that item. Because you have exchanged the agreed-upon value for the item, the store cannot demand you return what is now yours.
Therefore, entitlement follows from exchanging value for value. You are entitled to what you are willing to work or pay for. Furthermore, you are entitled to what individuals have agreed to give you. For example, if you marry someone, you are understandably entitled to an expectation of sexual fidelity.
Entitlement, as a concept, is not bad, but it becomes corrupted when encountering collectivism, greed, and predatory individuals.
The Evils of “Sense of Entitlement”
“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” – Margaret Thatcher
A sense of entitlement means a person believes he deserves certain privileges, which he either has no claim or a loose claim to. A sense of entitlement comes in all shapes and sizes:
- The customer at McDonald’s who is appalled their two-dollar meal prepared by underpaid teenagers is “taking too long”
- The individual who believes they are entitled to not hearing offensive speech
- The man who thinks he is entitled to sex because he treats women kindly
- The citizen who believes she is entitled to other people’s money because she makes a personal mistake
- The parent who thinks he is entitled to the future successes of his children
Furthermore, we do not live in a uniquely “entitlement culture.” Millennials are no less entitled than the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who have raised the national debt, created unfundable government programs, and stunted the growth and development of their children through public education and divorce. The entitlement of the past was to feed on the future to pay for their social programs, corporatism, and comforts.
Entitlement, as with other human flaws and sins, is never unique to one group. We are all susceptible to the evils of entitlement.
Why A Sense of Entitlement Is Annoying
“Because when we give too many fucks, when we choose to give a fuck about everything, then we feel as though we are perpetually entitled to feel comfortable and happy at all times, that’s when life fucks us.” – Mark Manson
People who are entitled have unrealistic expectations that are irritating to fulfill or engage with. For example, the entitled customer at McDonald’s will annoy the staff and her fellow customers. The staff will have to work harder to deliver a dining experience they cannot provide. If the woman expects better food or wants to be served by an experienced and talented staff, then she needs to pay for the experience.
In the dining example, the woman wants something but is unwilling to be reasonable. Having wants is not the issue: being unreasonable is. It is unreasonable to expect a high-class dining experience you’re reluctant to pay for. High-class dining experiences require money, training, and time to deliver. Therefore, a reasonable person recognizes they have to pay more money to justify better food, service, and atmosphere. The unreasonable person will demand better comforts and higher standards while wearing pajamas and flip-flops at their local McDonald’s.
Lastly, the entitled person does not contribute much to the transaction. Entitled people demand the others provide better care, service, and behavior, while paying or contributing very little. As with all predators, these entitled people do not offer value for value.
How To Combat Your Sense of Entitlement
As with all character flaws, we must acknowledge our susceptibility. You can express a sense of entitlement just as easily as collectivists and predatory people. Therefore, you should take the following steps to ensure you do not possess unrealistic and unhealthy expectations.
Rid Yourself of the “Deserve” Mentality
You “deserve” nothing. You receive what you are willing to put the time, energy, and money towards. People who think they “deserve” something are always complaining, begging, or whining. Why? Because they cannot make a rational claim of ownership.
You did not “deserve” a high-class dining experience – you have paid for a high-class dining experience. You do not “deserve” to be free of offensive words. You have the opportunity to develop thicker skin. Your kindness does not “deserve” sex. You earn physical affection by being an attractive, compelling partner. If you want something, you have to exchange value for it.
What are you willing to contribute? That is the question you have to answer. Are you willing to pay more for better food? Are you willing to improve your behavior to become more attractive? Furthermore, are you willing to work harder to increase your chances of success?
You are owed nothing. Rid yourself of this toxic belief and focus on improving what you can control.
Be Grateful for what You Have
“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” – Brené Brown
A sense of entitlement comes from not acknowledging how amazing your life is. Many people get angry at minor inconveniences, such as cold fries or a costly car repair, because that’s the breadth of their struggles. Very few people have to go through tragedies such as losing a child. Therefore, every little problem seems big because we lack perspective. Additionally, we refuse to gain perspective through reflection, virtue, and meaningful challenges.
Therefore, you must be grateful. Count the myriad of blessings you experience each day. Everything you have, from your job to your car to the clean water you drink, did not exist decades ago.
And yes, I understand gratitude does not free us of corrupt institutions, personal abuses, or character flaws. However, by being grateful, you can decrease the mental energy you waste on feeling and being entitled. That freed mental energy allows you to improve what you can and better deal with what you cannot.
A sense of entitlement will emotionally drain you while making you a chore to be around. Defeat your entitlement by reflecting on your blessings instead of complaining about your inconveniences.
Pay Premium if that’s what You Want
I don’t eat fast food because I hate spending a few dollars for a mediocre meal and dining experience. I eat at higher-class restaurants so I can justify my entitlement to better service.
If you have something you love, then pay for it. If you want a car that doesn’t break down every other week, then pay for a better car. If you want a reliable partner who will treat you well, then become a virtuous individual and find a noble partner. You cannot complain about ordinary things and people in your life if you refuse to upgrade your standards.
You are owed nothing outside of what you are willing to fight for. Obviously, you can’t have the best of everything. However, you should shift your energy, time, and effort towards receiving the best of what you love the most.
Entitlement is Defeated through Reasonable Expectations
Entitlement is not the issue. The issue is believing you “deserve” something or are “owed” more than you are willing to pay. Temper your expectations by investing in premium services and items. Furthermore, lower your expectations for what others can do for you. Lastly, instead of seeking others to serve you, serve yourself. For example, cook food at home instead of being disappointed by the low-quality service at a fast-food joint.
Entitlement will drain you of your mental health and emotional stability. Ward yourself against it with the steps I’ve outlined above.
- What do you feel entitled to? Is this object something you’ve worked hard to earn?
- When was the last time you were rejected for something you felt entitled to? How did you feel? How did you respond?
- Who’s a very entitled person in your life? What don’t you like about them? How can you avoid becoming like them?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.