I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what is going on in our country today, and something is screaming at me – entitlement. According to Webster, entitlement means, “the amount to which a person has a right; the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.”
Entitlement is showing up in many forms in our society, especially in the form of bullies – of all ages and walks of life. When we think of a ‘bully’, we generally think of what happens on the playground. Sadly, this has gotten incredibly out of hand in our schools. Teen suicide is at an all time high. Social media, our movies, video games, and a lack of human connection has desensitized our children. They are addicted to their phones for the dopamine rush it gives them. It concerns me to see children as young as one year being given iPads to ‘keep them preoccupied’ and frankly, pacified, as the damage that it can cause their developing brain – and let’s not forget the radiation coming off the device – can be incredibly harmful! Let alone the lack of human connection this brings as well as lack of creativity and curiosity we are robbing them of by putting these electronic devices in their hands.
I’m not writing this to express the dangers of our smart phones and iPads, yet I am writing to share the dangers of entitlement and lack of self control. It happens to each one of us, every single day, to some extent. My concern is how prevalent it is in our country and how so many people are letting it direct their behavior. The question is are you recognizing that you are slipping in to entitlement or are you letting it run rampant in your life? From a social standpoint, unfortunately, more are letting it run them instead of them managing their feelings of entitlement.
Let me explain.
In a personal relationship, all challenge arises when we begin to feel entitled. If our partner normally takes out the trash, and it’s the night before trash day and they haven’t done it, you may begin to feel frustrated or even angry because they ‘didn’t do their job’. That is a form of entitlement. You feel entitled to them doing their share of the housework. Yet another way to handle it is to recognize why they may not have followed through. Perhaps they got busy or simply forgot. You can then choose to handle how to respond. You might just go ahead and take out the trash to help your partner out, and not give it another thought. You might gently ask them if they can do it. In both cases, you have chosen to acknowledge your emotion and choose a different response. That is being a good self manager.
However, in our society today, especially with our politicians, our main stream media, and far too many people in a position of influence, they are letting their emotions rule them. They are in reaction mode instead of response mode. They are reacting to their feelings of entitlement. And once that begins, and that feeling continues to grow, it is very difficult for that person to get back to a calm, rational state where true choice can be made, and more effective ways of conducting themselves can take place.
Politically, if someone does not agree with you, then you are called names, ‘unfriended’, fired, or worse. I have never, in my 50 years on this planet, seen a political party more intent on shaming and removing the POTUS than I do today. As a whole, the Democratic Party is full of bullies. They name call, shout obscenities, express one sided arguments with no room for discussion, and they simply cannot, as a party, come together to accept that this is our POTUS and in order for progress to be made, we must learn to work together. They are more intent with pointing out every single thing he does ‘wrong’ in their eyes, making fun of him, criticizing him, his family, etc, than they are in seeking solutions for our country and working together. Many fail to recognize or acknowledge the positive things he has done, to even acknowledge that he is after all human, as we all are, and no one person is perfect. Many do not give him credit for what he has to handle on a daily basis, including the mounting attacks on his character that take place. They feel entitled to having it their way and if they don’t, then they are going to do everything in their power to bring him down. There is no sense of empathy whatsoever. This, my friends, is what bullies do.
I’m going to make a sidebar comment here: Pause for a moment to see what came up for you when reading this last paragraph. What are you feeling? If you are a Trump supporter, you are probably feeling in agreement and righteous. If you are not a Trump supporter, you are probably feeling defensive and argumentative. You are also probably making assumptions as to what my political affiliation is, and even the type of person I must be. All based on a simple paragraph expressing an observation.
Consider separating your emotions from what is being stated and try and look at it objectively. Is it something you agree with or don’t agree with? And if you don’t agree with it, can it just be okay to not agree? To simply say to yourself, “hmmm….that’s an interesting perspective. I don’t agree, yet she is certainly allowed to have her own view point. I wonder why she feels that way?” “Could there be any truth to what her perspective is?” Often, especially when we feel passionate about something, we don’t leave any room to consider other people’s perspectives or possibilities. We are deeply rooted in our own beliefs, and sometimes, we won’t even consider that there could be another possible view, perspective, or even see that things really are different. It’s all based on the lenses we are looking through. When we are rooted in our own beliefs, not willing to consider another possible perspective, that is also entitlement.
Keep in mind, all a belief is is a chronic pattern of thought. Have you ever had a belief that you felt strongly about, and then over time, or with new information, it changed? Some people who never believed in God, suddenly ‘find him’, and become devote believers. I for one, used to abhor guns – I didn’t want to have anything to do with them. Why? It was my mother’s belief. She hated them so I hated them. As I grew older my beliefs changed. I wanted to be able to protect myself. I learned how to be responsible and that guns were not to be hated but respected. My belief regarding guns changed.
When we take a look at our society today, we need to ask ourselves, what kind of example are we setting for our young people? When college professors, news reporters, actors, and politicians publicly shame those they don’t agree with, that adds fuel to the fire. If we, as adults, cannot be better self managers, how can we expect our children to be? Not only are they lacking human connection, what human behavior they do see is defiant, angry and hurtful. They are learning how to be self focused, not consider others or their feelings or perspectives, and yes, we are teaching them that it is okay to be entitled and not to be good self managers. I find it sad that so many (I’ll say) ‘kids’ under the age of 25 have little to no manners or boundaries or sense of self monitoring, and they are increasingly lacking empathy. And is it any wonder? Considering what they’ve been exposed to these past 20 years?
Nothing positive ever comes from entitlement, nor does any real solution. In order for us to have harmony in our homes, in our relationships, in our communities and in our country, we must stop coming from a place of entitlement, and we certainly need to become better at managing our emotions. In order for change to happen it must begin with us - each one of us. We must take personal responsibility each and every day for how we conduct ourselves and the impact our behavior has on the world around us. Ask yourself, “Do I want to set a positive example for others? Do I want to have have positive experiences in my life, offer solutions, and make worthwhile contributions to my relationships and community? Or do I want to create strife, leave others feeling worse by being around me, and not be willing to consider other points of view?”
We can only grow and learn by greater understanding, which can’t happen if we are in a state of entitlement. Be curious. Be interested. Be open. Be willing to work with those that have different perspectives than you do. Imagine if each one of us chose to live in this mindset. To be able to recognize when we are feeling entitled and to shift from that emotional energy to one of curiosity, acceptance, love and appreciation. We have the power of choice. Our country would be, and our children would have, a much more pleasurable place to live.