Entitlement Is Killing Your Joy; Here’s How To Let It Go

People love to complain about millennials, with their raging narcissism unchecked entitlement. But, let’s get real. You want to see peak entitlement? Check out the 15th Century, often termed the Age of Discovery (Thanks, Columbus!). Because, at its worst, entitlement leads to expectations about other people’s possessions, bodies, and land. Luckily, every contemporary person with a sense of entitlement isn’t a sticky-fingered, raping colonizer. But, according to science, they are all setting themselves up for a “habitual, self-reinforcing cycle of behavior with dire psychological and social costs.”

A new theoretical model from Case Western Reserve University maps out a continuous loop of suffering (a ride we’d prefer to skip). The study reviewed over 170 academic papers and discovered that narcissists are always vulnerable to unmet expectations, which lead to discontent and other unpredictable negative emotions. This discontent needs a remedy, which leads to the strengthening of the superiority which, in turn, feeds entitlement. Yep, that’s right, people who are entitled soothe the pain caused by entitlement with entitlement.

Ultimately the only way to avoid chronic disappointment in the short-term and interpersonal clashes, uncomfortable relationships, and depression in the long-term is to break the cycle. There isn’t a specific formula that works for everyone, but the following pieces of advice should help you to develop the gratitude and humility that you need to fight against entitlement:

Remember You Aren’t Owed Anything

Let’s say, for instance, that you are very, very rich and you believe that gives you power over others; you might believe that you can do anything to the women around you. You can do anything. Kissing. Grabbing. Anything. When you think things like this, you aren’t interacting with individuals who have free will, you are treating them as objects. And, when the people around you support you in these harmful conceits, you are part of a mutual admiration society — essentially a circle jerk.

That makes you part of the problem. Instead, think about the people around you as complete individuals who owe you nothing. Earn their respect. Don’t grab for it. Seriously, no grabbing. Hands down.

Accept “No”

Realizing you aren’t owed anything functions as step one. After that, you have to come to terms with being refused. No one likes to get “no” as an answer, but the reality is that we all have to hear it at one time or another and the sooner you accept it as a reality of daily living, the sooner you avoid the dissatisfaction caused by unmet expectations. If you have ever been a woman on a dating site, you are familiar with having a man approach you with compliments and entreaties, only to have him flip out when you respond in the negative. The dude in that story was not prepared to accept “no” and, really, does anyone want to be that guy?

We have to be able to handle rejection. It’s essential to a happy, healthy life. Hot take: the only rejection that should really get to you is organ rejection.

Celebrate Helping Others

When you view the people around you as competent, powerful individuals with the authority to make their own choices, you have to develop your relationships by giving to them, rather than only trying to take. One way to give to a relationship is to promote the other person and their achievements without looking for a return. This altruism is considered to be a prosocial behavior and it benefits the relationship as well as the people in it. Literally, research shows that helping others is linked to higher levels of mental health (even more so than receiving help). Although, you aren’t doing it for the mental health benefits (real altruism koan there); that’s just a bonus.

Lazy life hack: Thanks to social media, you can promote other people all day long with simple retweeting and sharing and liking.

Get A New Perspective

Entitled people believe they are owed things and that they deserve those things more than other people do. In close relationships, this leads to a lot of selfishness and game playing because entitled people are manipulative. The more you are able to understand where a person is coming from, the less likely you are to hobble them and keep them prisoner in your house because they are your favorite author. This would also long-term keep you from being clubbed over the head with a typewriter until you succumb to death. So, it’s really a win-win.

You can get really practical here and literally try writing about things from the other person’s perspective. We guarantee you this would reveal Annie doesn’t understand Paul at all (and not just because she is unstable in general). Also, we hope that your relationships are nothing like Stephen King’s Misery.

Be Aware of Your Privilege

In contemporary America, there is privilege associated with being rich, famous, white, able-bodied, cisgendered, heterosexual and attractive. If you are a combination of the six, congrats. This doesn’t mean that all people who fall into these categories live the good life. But, privilege exists and it feeds entitlement. If you can identify the parts of your life that give you slightly better access to rewards, you are more likely to set realistic expectations. If you know that your hot body is buying your way into the club, you set expectations that can be met as long as you maintain your appearance. You don’t think that you are automatically entitled to things — you recognize that your privilege is paying your way.

But how to use this privilege? If you have access, use it to amplify voices that don’t have access. If you have money, use it to support social progress. The key here, the key in all of this, is that entitlement is bred from selfishness. Unchecked selfishness, selfishness that has no bounds, is narcissism. It’s not a good look. And it’s not good for society.

Break free of the continuous suffering loop.