When we were young it was kind of cute when we threw tantrums as toddlers, not getting what we wanted. People would coo at us, maybe even pick us up and hold us, telling us in ooey-gooey tones that “you’ll get it later” or “you’ve got to wait a little while”. Then our tears would be mopped up, our snotty little noses would be wiped, and we’d be placed gently to the ground again.
As we grew older, some of us would learn to wait our turn, be patient and show consideration for others. Some of us, however, didn’t. We’d continue throwing tantrums, but in more mature and sophisticated ways. We’d continue to demand our fair share from others, but more subtly, and often without screaming or rolling around on the floor crying. And last of all, we’d continue to expect special treatment just because … well, just because we’re us and it’s because what wedeserve. Naturally.
Well here’s the thing … you’re not so special. And this article will explain why.
Me! Me! Me!
Linked with narcissism in the world of psychoanalysis, having a sense of entitlement can easily be mistaken as natural, and even healthy. After all, don’t our parents and societies constantly tell us that “we’re unique”, “we’re special”, and “we’re number one”?
The truth is, having a sense of entitlement is a malignant form of Self-Love, because it often harms the people around us, which indirectly harms us in the long term. In essence, a sense of entitlement is established and upheld by the belief that we are the center of the universe, and if the universe doesn’t meet ourneeds and desires, all hell will break loose.
This narcissistic mindset is often the result of failing to learn as children and young adults that we are not so special, and other people don’t merely exist to serve our needs and wants.
Some typical examples of narcissistic sense of entitlement behaviors, include the following:
- Tim and Estelle are in a long term relationship. Tim works full time to support Estelle and their child in a small two bedroom apartment. Estelle spends a large portion of Tim’s money on dresses and fancy accessories. When confronted, Estelle screams that she never wanted to live a “poor and lonely life”, and Tim never treats her anyway.
- Antonio shows up unexpected at his mother’s house drunk one night expecting to receive a bed, and a meal. When his mother refuses, telling him to call his girlfriend to pick him up, he argues with her and drives away in a drunken rage, not talking to her for the next 6 months.
- Katie and Xiang are best friends. But when Katie doesn’t respond to one of Xiang’s texts within half an hour, Xiang blocks her and doesn’t talk to her for the next week. Xiang fights with Katie accusing her of “not caring” and “forgetting about her”.
- Alex and Ben are a gay couple who are about to get married. While Ben wants a humble and modest ceremony, Alex wants it to be extravagant and expensive. Meeting with the wedding adviser while Ben is sick one day, Alex raises the budget from $5,000, to $20,000. When Ben finds out he demands angrily why. Alex says that he “deserves more than a measly little wedding” and guilt trips Ben into going through with it.
These are only a few illustrations, but there are countless stories out there that exemplify both passive and aggressive disregard for others.
Sense Of Entitlement Symptoms
By now you may be wondering: do I have a sense of entitlement? Like anything in life there is a spectrum, and while you may not be a full-blown narcissist or have a borderline personality disorder, you may exhibit a certain level of selfishness that makes other people’s lives hard. If you have a sense of entitlement, symptoms include the following:
1. You impose unrealistic demands onto your family, children, friends, acquaintances, lovers, employees, and/or employers.
2. You tend to feel sorry for yourself if things don’t work out the way you wanted (self-pity), and openly advertise this in melodramatic, attention-seeking ways.
3. People have called you a “bully”, “manipulative”, “ruthless”, “egotistical”, “vain”, or a “liar”.
4. You believe that you deserve happiness and go to great, sometimes extreme lengths to ensure that happens, often at the expense of others.
5. You punish people when they don’t do what you want either passively (e.g. silent treatment, gossiping, spreading rumors) or aggressively (e.g. shouting, verbally/physically abusing).
6. In order to “succeed” in life, you believe in going to any lengths.
7. You constantly see other people as competition or “threats”.
8. You tend to exhibit many double-standards in the way you behave/interact with other people, e.g. I can be late and forget my duties and commitments, but YOU can’t; I can treat myself, but YOU can’t; I can abuse or disrespect you, but YOU can’t to ME.
9. You tend to take more than give in friendships and relationships.
10. You tend to look out for yourself, your needs and desires more than anyone else almost 100% of the time.
11. You have a hard time negotiating or compromising.
12. You have a deep-seated conviction that you have priority and should always come first, even at the expense of stepping on others.
13. People always seem to be offended or upset by what you do or say.
14. You generally think that you are better, or more important, than other people and other people should see this and unquestioningly respect you.
15. You crave admiration and adoration.
16. You like to assert your dominance or superiority over other people, finding it second nature.
It’s important to remember that we all suffer from personality flaws. While some of us are stingy or deeply insecure, others of us have sense of entitlement complexes. If you tend to show this narcissistic trait, there are many ways to slowly work through it to improve the quality of your life, and the lives of others. Examples include:
- Developing more Self-Awareness; the first path of Involution. Without being aware of what you think, feel and do, you won’t be able to progress very far.
- Identifying your inner expectations about the world, as well as deep-seated beliefs and ideals. Often a sense of entitlement stems from unhealthy or unrealistic perceptions that you may not even be aware of.
- Work to accept life as it is without imposing your beliefs, ideals or expectations. This includes practicing forgiveness, and allowing people to be the way they are naturally.
- Concentrate on developing compassion and empathy. Asking “how does this affect others?”, “how does he/she feel right now?”, “how would I feel if I was her/him?” helps to broaden the mind, and open it to new, and beneficial, ways of thinking.
- Celebrate with other people, and celebrate other people. Pay attention to thehappiness and joy of others: happiness shared is happiness multiplied. Also, being thankful for the people in your life allows you to place more importance in them, seeing how truly special they are.
- Slowly work on cultivating true Self-Love, not the malignant kind.
Change won’t come overnight, but with dedication and will power your life can take a permanent turn for the better.
If you would like to share any thoughts or experiences you have on having a sense of entitlement, please do so below in the comments area!
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This is an interesting post, but there is something a little disturbing about it. I am the daughter of 2 parents who were abusive towards me. One has mental health problems (a psychiatric diagnosis); the other is cold, aloof, authoritarian, bullying, aggressive, verbally and physically abusive.
My parents brought me up believing that I was a “BAD” child – that if I did not do EXACTLY as they said, I was being “naughty”. Being “naughty” also involved other things too – I was NOT allowed to ask questions about how I was brought up, I was NOT allowed to ask for reasons why my parents told me to do things a certain way, I was NOT allowed to give my own opinions or to contradict my parents’ opinions (even if they were obviously inaccurate).
My parents demanded high grades at school, and near constant obedience. They dominated and controlled pretty much every decision that got made in my life – where I should study, what I should study, what it was acceptable to wear, who I should have as friends. This continued well into my teenage years, when I began to find it unbearable and suffocating. I wanted to assert a little independence as a teen, and start making decisions for myself.
As a result, my parents and I endlessly argued about what I wore, what music I listened to, what I would do for a living, etc… My parents blamed ME for the arguments, despite the fact that it takes TWO people to start a row. Had they actually listened to me, and given me some support, and taken an interest in me, then there would have been NO arguments. My father, in particular, screamed and yelled at me, and also hit me. He told me that what I wanted to do for a career was “piss assed” and “arty farty”. My parents forced me to study a course I did not even want to do at University. When I tried to tell them I was unhappy, and wanted to change my course of study, my father told me he would “kick me out of the house without a penny”.
Still, I believed I was the “bad” person in all this. It was what I was told – ALL THE TIME. Not only that, but I was also NEVER told I was loved or wanted. I was compared unfavourably to other relatives – my mother would always tell me how much prettier and cleverer my female cousin was. Even when it came to my WEDDING, my parents told me I was “not a wedding dress kind of girl”! So, I ended up with a nondescript, cheap wedding because I genuinely thought I deserved no better.
Oddly, despite being such a “bad” child, I got good grades at school, completed my University Degree (even though I hated it!), and went onto work. As a teenager, I held down a weekend job, and every summer vacation, I had a vacation job (my younger sibling did NOT do these things). I also helped out with housework, including vacuuming, ironing, dusting…
Tell me how that is a “bad” person? Yet this is what my parents insisted I was. The same parents who screamed at me, yelled at me. The same parents who told me what I was good at in school was “piss assed”. The same parents who made me feel ugly and unloveable. The same parents who threatened me, intimidated me, neglected me, hit me!
By the way, you might like to know that my parents insisted that I had a “sense of entitlement”! Personally, I feel that this is a VERY dangerous statement to tout about. People can use it to describe others who (like me) have NO sense of entitlement whatsoever. Do you not think that NARCISSISTIC PARENTS know all about the “sense of entitlement”, and know how to PROJECT IT? How they train their kids to ask for nothing, by telling their kids that if they do ask for love, time, cuddles, attention, support… the kids are being “spoiled” or “acting entitled”.
I believed – for YEARS – that I was “bad”, “stupid”, “spoiled”, “unattractive”. I believed it to the point where I accepted abusive boyfriends, got bullied at school, and had no self-esteem whatsoever – DESPITE the fact that I managed to get good qualifications, pull myself together and get a good job (which, by the way, my father described as a “dirty job” – I was a Social Worker).
I think it’s very worrying when people write about things such as “sense of entitlement” without really understanding what that phrase means, or how it can be used. It is a dangerous phrase, for it can be used sometimes to accurately describe people who DO show such behaviours. However, it may also be adopted as a phrase to be used by people who are themselves suffering a “sense of entitlement”, but project this onto others who are innocent of this behaviour – i.e. narcissistic parents telling their innocent kids that the kids are “spoiled”. Little kids DO NOT understand these terms, or what they are being called them for – they simply come to believe that if they ask for anything in life, even things that their parents SHOULD provide (such as love, protection, support, interest, time together) they are acting “spoiled” or “self-important” and “entitled”.
I do NOT believe I was wrong or bad wanting love and affection from my parents. For them to tell me that I was “acting entitled” by hoping for the very things that most other kids take for granted – the things that caring, appropriate parents SHOULD be providing for their kids – was WRONG.
Be careful, be VERY careful what you write about “sense of entitlement”, and just how you use the phrase. Better that it is never used at all!
OMG. Based on that list…, OMG ! Was that a “Globalism Bucket List” ? WE live in servitude, and absolute doubt here in America, Rolf. But thanks for the concern. You have a nice day.
I think the most importent will be.
1. Accept. To accept others the way they are, and the same for one self. To aceept the situation as it is, and stay in the moment.
2. Thankfullness. My way is to say, Thank You, as often as possible. To the Sun, to the Moon, to my car after a ride, to my house, to people around me. Loud or silent.
3. To be in the moment, here and now. To be silent and to stop my thinking. Listen to the inner silens.
Happy easter from Sweden.
Happy Easter to you too Rolf! Lovely to see this comment here from you and so wise too!
Warm regards Therese Z
I have to react on that. It is or was my life (I really don’t know). Only after my 6oth birthday I found out I had a very very narcissistic mother. Reading about it for the first time made me fall of my chair.
I can’t tell about narcissism of myself without mentioning my mother. I read somewhere that we were born with qualities of our mothers. And yes, I can confirm I was quite or very narcissistic myself.
I lost a whole life because I did not know about my mental disease. And I did not know about my mothers. I was always of great trust towards her, but just in her last years (she died) I found out she was a big liar, about my father and the brothers she did not like. She was a man hater and a woman hater, an every one hater actually.
It’s simply described: there’s only one person in the world important. That’s also the tricky part that makes you never find out about narcissism. Bad or wrong things always belong to others.
I found out because I got stuck in life. For a whole year I could not function anymore and wrote every single day about my problems, sometimes crawling over the floor. I did not leave my chair and didn’t go out. How sick I was.
I don’t know if I solved it. My favorite saying ‘the fish does not know it swims in the water’ of course also goes for me. But I make progress:)