Imagine yourself as a member (with elite status) of a rewards program for hotels or airlines. You walk into a hotel (or an airport) without a reservation and expect to be upgraded on the spot because of your elite status. Well, guess what? You find out the hotel (or the airline) can’t upgrade your room (or seat) due to lack of availability (a genuine reason), but you become unreasonable. You keep reminding them of your elite status and demanding that you be upgraded or else you will quit their program (or some other lame threat).

This — in this moment — is when you feel entitled. You behave like there is no reason to go without the upgrade. Here’s the thing: just because you have elite status with them is not a good enough reason to feel entitled. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say there is no reason good enough to feel entitled for anything in your life.

Truth be told, if that upgrade was that important to you, you should have made your reservation earlier so you had enough time for upgrades as you knew beforehand that it was given out on a first-come, first-served basis, but you chose not to. You took the chance of making the reservation on the day of, and when you didn’t get the upgrade, you made hullabaloo about it. In other words, you chose to feel entitled.

Entitlement basically means behaving like you have a right to something. I think narcissism and entitlement often go hand in hand because it’s about getting what you want without having any regard for how others might think or feel in a situation. It’s the feeling that you deserve things in life because the world owes you.

Kids feel entitled to things at a young age, and when they don’t get them, they throw a tantrum. Of course, it’s your job as a parent to know better and choose not to be manipulated by the child during those times and to help the child deal with it better.

As adults, wrongly feeling entitled for something goes back partially to parenting, which creates a dependency with the child rather than working to help them be independent and to use their own resources and initiative, if you will.

It’s easy to feel entitled when you think the universe revolves around you. We make it about us when it’s not about us. For instance, you feel that you are entitled to have people’s undivided attention at your convenience without having any regard for their time. This reminds me of when my cousin feels entitled that his phone calls be answered whenever he calls; I suspect he is not alone in that thinking. He is unwilling to understand the other person’s situation or circumstance as to why that may or may not be possible (for any number of reasons), but then again, it’s not the other person’s problem for sure, but my cousin’s. For some reason, we want ourselves to be understood first without understanding the other person, but it doesn’t work like that.

We care more about our needs being met, even at the expense of others. Some might even think of it as a Win-Lose scenario. Other times you might feel entitled because you have some expectations from others (conscious or sub-conscious), and when they aren’t met, you lose it, but it’s not their problem, is it? Why do we feel entitled to things outside of our control, or, in other words, isn’t it ironic to feel entitled to things that are outside of our control?

That reminds me of locus of control, which is the degree to which we think we have control over the outcome of events in our lives as opposed to having external forces take control of our lives. Our worldviews largely emanate from that.

Here are some signs that indicate self-entitlement in your everyday life:

  • Not treating others the way we want ourselves to be treated.
  • Acting hypocritical in the sense that you expect others to do things, but you do not honor those same high standards yourself, choosing to give yourself leeway for similar things.
  • Taking more in your relationships than giving.
  • Putting unrealistic demands on others (as in the rewards program upgrade example), thereby leaving them feeling pressured.
  • Punishing others silently by not talking to them because you feel like the other person should understand without you needing to explain. This goes back to having subconscious expectations.
  • When you’re trying to sell something, you might not be able to negotiate as you might feel entitled to a certain price for that thing.

Here are some ways to deal with self-entitlement. First, realize that it’s not all about you. There are things that are beyond your control that you simply can’t have. Feeling entitled to it will only make it worse for you. Stop feeling entitled for things outside of your control and instead know that you’re not entitled to anything — then, whatever you get is a bonus.

Rather than feel entitled to what you don’t have, feel grateful for what you do have. You have a choice as to how you see the world, whether through internal or external locus of control.

Next, proaction is also a choice you make. That means taking responsibility for your life without blaming others or making them responsible, and certainly not feeling entitled to things.

Question your expectations and assumptions. Ask yourself if you consciously or sub-consciously believe that you have the right to things that others might have that benefit you. Does that help or hurt both of you? Also, ask yourself about the assumptions you’re making in the situation. Of course, this requires a great deal of self-awareness, without which you’re unlikely to go very far.

We can learn to be more empathetic with others. We need to put ourselves in their shoes and ask how they would feel in the exact same situation/circumstance. Accept others the way they are without feeling the need to change them (which you can’t do anyway). We need to learn to be tolerant of other people’s views and opinions when we feel entitled to impose our opinions and beliefs onto them. Think win-win: consider what’s in the best interest of both you and the other person, and not just what’s solely best in your interest.

There are times when feeling justified for things is acceptable. For instance, you ordered food for home delivery and it’s reasonable to expect it within 40 minutes (the estimate given by the restaurant). But, even if you don’t get your food on time, it does not give you permission to behave rudely. Remember, things can take slightly longer than usual (for any number of reasons), and that’s okay. One can learn to be more patient during those times. Similarly, you might feel entitled to getting paid whatever fees you charge for your service, but it’s ultimately the client’s choice if they choose to work with you or not. Another example: You might rightly feel entitled to watch a movie in a theater without noise from your neighbors since you paid for the ticket, but so did others who don’t think twice about answering a phone call during a screening. In other words, these people choose to be arrogant.

Here’s the thing. Self-entitlement can be a slippery slope. There are times when you may not be entitled to things and there are times you might be justified in your reasoning. Distinguishing between the two situations is the key. The world doesn’t owe you anything. Rather than acting with a sense of entitlement, choose to be grateful for what you have. Genuinely seek to understand others when your needs can’t be met rather than trying to force something to happen. The world is a much friendlier place when people look out for each other.

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