I assume most people aren’t entitled, but rather reactionary to their basic programming. While shades of entitlement have risen drastically over the last two decades, it is also now a pop-culture term used to disparage others that set boundaries and seek out healthy forms of self-care. These are two very different behaviors.
I have 4-5 posts on boundaries like this one.
Please reference those in order to understand more in that area.
There is legitimate family trauma that occurs through unconscious and conscious parenting, as mentioned in The Cost of Entitlement I. Entitlement can become a child’s form of psychological protection but is not the same in this context.
Entitlement as a reaction to trauma is part of the safety-seeking process and is a much deeper-rooted psychological phenomenon than mere selfish behavior.
Alternatively, the general social entitlement commented on stems from the good intention of parents not wanting their children to experience the pain and suffering of the developmental experiences they did. This type of core pain drives their present-day belief systems and behaviors.
I recall the “Awards for All” era. Giving all kids awards for participation became common 20 years ago. The thought process behind this phenomenon remained watching a few people triumph leaving the majority of children out. Those who were part of the left-out crowd experienced extreme pain and shame of rejection, defectiveness, and not being good enough. Coincidentally, this is also the common core belief system I work with with those people I see for trauma.
They didn’t want their children to experience that same pain. Life sent them constant messages- conscious or not- they were never good enough to belong.
Your parents have the duty to raise and provide for you as a child, nurture, affirm, and set limits until you are ready to sustain and protect yourself. However, they do not owe you for the rest of their lives. If you have traumas from the past, those are your responsibility to work through. Once a person recognizes deep wounds, it is up to that individual to heal them. No one will do that for you, and spending your life constantly reopening the gash will only make you bleed all over everybody. It’s not pretty. Please reference my analogy of being shot in this blog to understand this perspective.
Why is being awarded for participation harmful?
You don’t get to experience, satisfaction in completing tasks nor do you build self-esteem when you wait on others to work for you. And, if you aren’t doing it yourself, you can’t control the outcome. This sets you up for immediate disappointment and evasion of responsibility. Expectations are instant letdowns, especially if you don’t communicate to others what those assumptions are.
There is an ultimate choice point: to either reorder your perspective or live into a constant cycle of unrealistic expectations. I’ll tell you from personal experience, the latter is miserable. It wasn’t until I began taking that power back for myself that I was able to realize actual happiness. When I began to see others as equals, struggling like everyone does, and stopped relying on other people’s inputs or actions to create external sources of fulfillment; I began to really heal and move forward.
Addiction and Entitlement
Entitlement- take what you want without regard for others.
Competition is good in certain applications. With a healthy attitude, it advances our lives and we learn through the process. When entitlement creeps into the picture, however, this can become incredibly destructive, to yourself, or others.
When addiction is a part of the picture, entitlement takes over. While your brain becomes more steeped in the cycle, the dopamine reward system bypasses all rational thinking and your need for that stimulus becomes greater and greater. Volkow, Michaelides, and Bailer (2019) describe this process in great depth. As drug reward increases, the avoidance of negative feelings states escalates. These rewards outweigh any consequences experienced. As they explain:
“The repeated reward-associated behavior, over time, can eventually result in the emergence of habits (103), as the dorsal striatum gradually takes over from the ventral striatum. Additionally, following repeated drug exposures, habits might also result from a reduction in inputs from the prefrontal cortex (PFC) into the striatum that disrupts the control overaction selection.”
Where does entitlement fit in with this? You become conditioned to respond to stimulus, and automated. You distance yourself from your feelings states, and cannot feel anything. Thus, those normative stop-brakes are bypassed. Your need for that stimulus, the drug or behavior, becomes greater. Thus, you begin to override all logic that would otherwise stop you from engaging in harmful behaviors, and do them to obtain that stimulus, no matter the cost. So you might begin to steal from family, drive drunk, or engage in activities that you would not do while not under the influence.
Entitlement can be caused by the convenience of taking a substance to get an effect and resentment when you can’t continue to do that. It brings with it a loss of connection and gratitude for others. You begin to use them as tools to get your high. You stop seeing them for trying to help you, for their humanness, and override their concerns or damage in your relationships with them. Entitlement will completely isolate you and dive you deeper into the cycle.
Entitlement is furthered by enabling relationships in addiction. When you are shielded from the consequences of your actions, you fail to experience those repercussions and expect more rewards. Diana Clark (2016) perfectly explains:
“Addiction flourishes in circumstances where the person struggling with an addictive disorder is insulated from the consequences of their disorder. Such a situation often alleviates the need for sobriety.”
What would you do to win?
The Karpman triangle explains toxic forms of relating to others. The victim corner (at the bottom) is a favorite go-to for some. When you perceive reasons for how people have done you wrong, it makes it easier to do harm to them. This is called perpetrating out of the victim stance, and people can fluctuate between these roles of victim and perpetrator forever in a nasty dance of resentment-laced bitterness.
I like to believe that we do the best with what we have as Brene Brown emphasizes. There is a very small percentage of the population that makes up true psychopaths or sociopaths, but the vast majority of humanity has an inborn desire to get along with others.
When it comes to hard relationships, especially when people don’t like you, most people don’t like conflict and try to choose a low confrontation path due to their innate desire to get along with others and fit in. When not standing up for yourself becomes a habit, it can be easy to slip into a place of victimhood and stay there. That’s why having a healthy set of inner boundaries is so important. Victimhood will increase the sense of entitlement.
Entitlement will destroy all the relationships you value. You will push coworkers, friends, and family away with this lack of appreciation and perspective of using people as tools and no reciprocation. You will end up completely alone. Sure you might have acquaintances, but no emotional connection. You might become the loneliest person in a room full of people.
You get out of entitlement with gratitude. If you appreciate the actions and kindness of others, you avoid those resentments.
Progress is about minor improvements daily, not living a life of perfection. And, if we begin to embrace this belief for not only ourselves but others as well, then our world becomes a lot more serene.
- Cohen, S. “Oprah Winfrey, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy headline WOW 2023 Mental Health Summit.” UCLA Health. May 4, 2023. Accessed 6/6/23 from: https://www.uclahealth.org/news/oprah-winfrey-us-surgeon-general-vivek-murthy-headline-wow
2. Stein, J. “Millenials: The Me Me Me Generation.” May 20, 2013. Accessed June 11, 2023 from: https://time.com/247/millennials-the-me-me-me-generation/?fbclid=IwAR042gPPQkCwkqAmg4455ASjey4OSwKpB73gMGoQ_YDb8FyOKWY-ol30h4Y
3. Jamail, N. “The Harm of Entitlement: Some leaders fear that if they push their employees, they will quit or rebel.” Lab Manager. November 23, 2017. Accessed 6/9/23 from: https://www.labmanager.com/the-harm-of-entitlement-5885
5. Clark, D. The Hurdle of Entitlement. Published on May 16, 2016. Accessed from: https://oconnorpg.com/blog/the-hurdle-of-entitlement/