Well hello, Friday! And hello to all of you.
We’re only a few articles into the September blog extravaganza, and we’ve already covered some pretty heady topics. Monday talked about why dating and relationship success is an inside job. Wednesday got into taking full responsibility for your love life and happiness. Today, we’ll talk about entitlement.
I know. Pretty heavy stuff… even negative in some ways. But I’m a firm believer in a solid foundation. We start with the hard stuff, our attitudes and belief systems, because those provide the foundation for the more practical advice.
So. Entitlement. Just the word brings a sneer to the lips. No one likes a self-entitled person. No one likes someone who’s narcissistic and believes they deserve special or better than the rest of us. Yet, the world is full of them and the U.S. is particularly full of them. We live in a culture that promotes self-entitlement in some ways. This is why so many other countries have “ugly American” jokes, referring to how some Americans act when they travel abroad.
But what about those of us who aren’t narcissistic? What about when we feel we deserve things that are not special or better than what others have, but are somewhat reasonable things to want? For example, “I deserve to be with a man who loves me” or “I work hard and deserve to live in a nice neighborhood.” Or, what about when we say we deserve things that are not just reasonable, but downright understandable? Such as “I deserve better than to be with someone who talks down to me.”
I ask because I see this a lot. And I think it’s a problem.
The problem with the D word (deserve) is that we don’t really deserve anything. Just like no one deserves a bout with cancer, to live in poverty, or to have their home destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, no one deserves success, love, or happiness either. Do we WANT success, love, and happiness? Yes! Is it okay to seek them? Of course! I want you to have all the success and happiness there is. That’s why I’m here.
But I don’t think we “deserve” success and happiness.
I know it sounds harsh, but hear me out. The problem with deserving and entitlement is that they’re traps. They set you up for disappointment and conflict. For example, I’ve seen men get pissed off when they get rejected by women, or women get pissed off when men don’t want commitment. That’s entitlement. It’s not others’ job to give us what we want; it’s our job to find those who can give it to us. Wouldn’t it just be easier to move on to someone who WILL say yes or WILL offer up that commitment?
“But I spent all kinds of money on her!”
“But I put two years into that relationship with him!”
Yes, a sense of entitlement or expectations can build when you believe you’ve invested in a situation that you hoped would pay off. It didn’t and it’s okay to be upset. But humble, non-entitled people accept their disappointment and move on, rather than railing about things that didn’t work out in their favor.
I say, instead of focusing on expectations and entitlement, focus on goals. You know what you want. If you aren’t getting it, it’s time to take action. It’s not always clear what action to take, but if you at least shed your expectations and feelings of entitlement and work toward your goals, you’re going to achieve them eventually.
Plus, gratitude. I’m totally digging the quote above (I’d never heard of Steve Maraboli until today, but I’m liking his quotes). In any area of life, including our relationships, it’s easy to focus on what we want and expect instead of what we appreciate. This is especially true in relationships and marriage, where we can fall into the trap of forgetting to appreciate our partners and what they do for us. But it happens on dates too, when we focus on what was wrong with a date instead of what was positive about it or what we learned from it.
I say, fuck self-entitlement. Shed that trap and focus on what you want and how you’re going to get it.