5 Reasons Why an Entitlement Mentality Will Diminish Your Life
We live in an age of entitlement as never before! Drs. Twenge and Campbell, in their book, “The Narcissism Epidemic,” refer to it as a “psychocultural affliction.” It’s not hard to identify. People with this modern malady feel entitled to be exempt from rules that apply to others because of some exception, or simply because they are special. They feel entitled to recognition and admiration for accomplishments, real or imagined. They feel entitled to a good job simply because they went to college. They feel entitled to home ownership regardless of their ability to pay for it.
In a nutshell, people with this mentality feel they have a natural right to privileges that others earn through sacrifice and discipline. When others are visited by great good fortune, they consider those same events to be their own natural right.
I hope you will forgive me for painting with a brush that I know is impossibly broad, but let’s not ignore the elephant in the room. We share the world with a generation who was given a trophy just for showing up, received a blue ribbon for trying hard, soccer scores were not kept because “everyone’s a winner,” and who were told every day by Mr. Rogers that they were “special.” (“Unique,” sure. But 5 year-olds have trouble parsing adjectives at that level, and very quickly make the semantic jump from “special” to “entitled.”)
Now, before you exempt yourself from this category because of age or attitude, could it be that deep down you feel that you are entitled to be treated fairly because it’s only right; that truth should prevail; that the good guys should win; and that justice should always be served? Well, here’s how it really is: There will always be those who get rich by cheating, truth will not always prevail, the bad guys often win, and the criminal justice system is not always just.
You can simmer in cynicism and mediocrity, or you can throw off entitlement mentality and thrive.
Here are 5 reasons that entitlement thinking will diminish your life and trap you in mediocrity.
Why Work At Self-Improvement?
An entitlement mentality is a disincentive to cultivate skills that help you succeed. If, for instance, a leader or manager believes he or she is entitled to the loyalty of the people in their department, they will fail. They will be far less likely to cultivate relationships or to work on improving their team-building and persuasion skills.
When you believe that you are entitled to job promotions and bonuses simply because of your position or your membership in a union, and not because of your performance, it’s a recipe for perpetual mediocrity. Your sense of entitlement will destroy your motivation to enhance your knowledge and skills and diminish your ability to compete with “less entitled” people.
It Fosters “Learned Helplessness”
Entitlement thinking is inherently an expectation to “receive rather than achieve.” It works in tandem with the unquestioned assumption that the circumstances of our lives are created by things outside of us. It corroborates the notion that our lives and attitudes are the product of other more powerful people’s decisions, or of fate, government, genetics, social class, etc. Psychologists even have a name for this: An “External Locus of Control.” This is opposite a trait that the vast majority of successful and happy people have, which is, naturally, an “Internal Locus of Control.” This attitude assumes, “I choose my own attitudes and behaviors and thus create my own success and happiness.”
Chip on the Shoulder
It breeds conflict in relationships. When we believe we are entitled to a certain level of deferential treatment from others the stage is set for conflict when someone in our life has the inevitable bad day. The rude comment or thoughtless act that might otherwise be overlooked becomes an incident that damages a relationship.
Also, someone with an entitlement mentality is more willing to step on other people to get ahead, setting the stage for conflict. Entitled people consider their own needs and problems more important than others’, so a good deed done for them is often quickly forgotten.
The Real World Sucks
Entitlement thinking saddles us with a poor grasp of reality. We regard ourselves as special when we are really not. We resist evidence of that by sinking into denial. Many entitled teens experience a rude wake-up call when they move out into the real world where there “specialness” is not recognized. That disillusionment can devolve into depression or antisocial behaviors that land them in trouble.
As adults, entitlement thinking will lead to self-indulgent behaviors instead of productive ones, because, well, “We deserve it!” A sense of entitlement limits our personal growth and establishes a lifelong pattern of underachievement.
Poorly Equipped to Cope
Researchers have identified certain personality traits which equip us to cope with stress and crisis more effectively. Specifically, they are a highly sociable personality, an active coping style, and an internal locus of control that I mentioned earlier. Entitlement attitudes retard, or block, the development of those traits, and leave us exposed to more psychological damage during times of extreme stress or trauma.
It is actually quite a challenge to exist in our culture without entitlement assumptions leaching into your character. But ponder this: One of the most significant shared attributes of the people that Tom Brokaw labeled “The Greatest Generation” was a remarkable lack of entitlement thinking. This generation, who faced, fought and won World War II, had lived through the Great Depression, and the experience effectively purged them of any tendency to feel that the world owed them anything, or that someone else was going to take care of them.
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