Simplicity Killer: Entitlement (a few questions to ask yourself)

I wasn’t planning on posting before Christmas, but I ended up with a bit of unexpected “free time” this afternoon. I was also inspired by this great blog post on children and signs they might be struggling (or not!) with entitlement. I started wondering, “what about adults?” And myself. Do I struggle with entitlement? I settled on a few questions to ask myself.

  1. When I receive unexpected monetary gifts, do I think first about spending the money on myself?
  2. Do I find myself fantasizing about things I want to own?
  3. Do I struggle with envy?
  4. Do I feel that I deserve a certain lifestyle, regardless of how I live?
  5. When things don’t work out as I plan – i.e. money coming through, not receiving a gift I hoped for – do I become angry?

Ask yourself these questions after Christmas and see how your heart has responded.

Today is my birthday, which for many of us, is the day of entitlement. My birthday is usually low-key, dinner with family. I don’t expect a party or a weeklong celebration of drinks and dinners out. (Now I’d love a 3-hour snuggle with my son.) But if I look back, I can see entitlement, maybe not overt, but at the heart level. Maybe I didn’t get the attention I thought I deserved. Maybe I thought I should have received that one other gift. Likely no one else has ever noticed these moments in myself (or you), but from out of the heart the mouth speaks (matt 12:4). Or in other words – if entitlement has taken root in me, the fruit will become evident in time.

What is the antidote to entitlement thinking? Several things come to mind, but at the top of my list is gratitude. Gratitude is always a perspective changer, though it requires discipline for most of us. More on gratitude to come.

Do you see moments of entitlement-thinking in your own life?

For more on a related topic see Simplicity Killer: Self-Pity.

hoping the bear will learn gratitude over entitlement

hoping the bear will learn gratitude over entitlement

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4 thoughts on “Simplicity Killer: Entitlement (a few questions to ask yourself)

  1. Hi Jen! I love “If entitlement has taken root in me, the fruit will become evident in time.” This is so true. I also often worry that my kids will grow up with a sense of entitlement, especially in the context of our culture. Gratitude has become a major focus of mine recently, both inwardly and outwardly. The older Mia gets the more I can see that my actions speak much louder than my words, so I’m trying to live gratitude out loud. 🙂

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  3. Happy Birthday, Jen! And I say, give yourself a gift and lighten up on the introspection part. Those feelings you describe are normal to everyone, whether rich or poor. Don’t beat yourself up over them! That is my gift to you! 🙂

    But when it comes to kids — from whence your subject came — I do have a few thoughts to share. Ironically, even though I have none. (I have no “kids,” I mean: not “thoughts.”)

    I grew up in an environment different from most. Although my own family was not particularly religious, the community I was raised in was. And, in these environs, “entitlement” as a lifestyle was generally ignored and seldom encouraged. So, to me, these things of entitlement mean very little. Befriending the poor, the sick and those otherwise disadvantaged was simply a way of life in the world of my youth. But I never really thought about such things, until I no longer lived there for many years, and until I had become much older, and realized there was something in my “code” that seemed different from many others I knew. The “women’s rights movement” of even my generation (and I am old) would have balked at the following words that all of us young ladies (c. age 12) were asked to cross-stitch into a wall-hanging: “Greet the Day with a Song … Make Others Happy … Serve Gladly.” But, oh my, I realize how these epithets are, even now, at the core of who I am, and I am not entirely unhappy about this.

    But it does occur to me that, while self-introspection about entitlement is likely an essential foundation and starting point, it may be “example” that ultimately speaks the most strongly to one’s children. I see so many parents today who (just imho) tend to overprotect their children from ever seeing or experiencing anything that might smack of poverty, sadness, cultural or religious differences, sickness … well, you likely get my drift here. But these often seem to be the children who grow up to exhibit (the recently-made-popular term) *affluenza*. Importantly, by “exposure,” I do not necessarily mean making a point to help out at a soup kitchen every Thanksgiving. While that sort of thing is a fine tradition to weave into one’s life, I’m speaking more about everyday things, a wide swath of exposure to human beings of all stripe, and to get to know those people as friends and equals. I guess what I’m saying is possibly the most powerful remedy to “entitlement-thinking” might be to just turn outward and be part of the world. Because I know that you do this, I think your example will serve you well with your little Bear, more than worrying about a gift that you did or did not get for your birthday. That happens to everyone, whether entitled or not. Just on a different scale. The important thing is to keep looking outward. I honestly think the greatest gift any of us could give someone we love would be to show them how to “serve gladly,” “great every day with a song” and do what we can to “make others happy.” 🙂

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