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Sense of Entitlement: What Makes You Entitled, 27 Signs & Ways to Overcome It

If we want to talk about a sense of entitlement, let’s talk about something we’re all familiar with. The selfie and social video generation.

We’ve all seen them. They are in the queue for a coffee, at the park, in the library – heck, they might even be you!

They have their phones angled just right, a perfect blend of duck lips and raised eyebrows, and click! The selfie is born. But does our selfie obsession make us the poster children for entitlement? Or is there more to this than just a well-filtered Instagram post?

Let’s snap a picture of what entitlement really looks like – and I promise, it’s not as Instagram-worthy as you might think.

What Does a Sense of Entitlement Even Mean?

In the world of psychology, a “sense of entitlement” is an enduring personality trait, characterized by the belief that one is deserving of certain privileges or special treatment simply for being who they are. [Read: 20 Secrets to stop being selfish and ways to stop hurting and using others]

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “I don’t demand a VIP pass at every concert I go to or throw a fit when my latte isn’t 100% perfect.” And I hear you.

Entitlement is much more nuanced than demanding front row seats to life.

So, before we start diagnosing ourselves and everyone around us with a severe case of entitlement, let’s dive a bit deeper into this term, its origins, signs, and hey, if we find out that we’ve got a touch of the entitlement bug, we’ll even look at ways to work through it.

Stay with me on this journey – it promises to be a revealing, yet entertaining, exploration of our psyche. No selfie stick required! [Read: Why narcissist ignore you, your texts, and do the selfish things they do]

Entitlement: The Star of Your Brain’s Drama

When you hear about the neuroscience of entitlement, you might picture tiny, entitled neurons lounging around in a miniature brain-castle, demanding to be served by their less entitled neuron neighbors.

Although the reality is a bit less melodramatic, it’s still quite fascinating.

The main characters of our brainy drama are the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. The amygdala, let’s call it the ‘Drama Queen’, plays a critical role in our emotional responses.

When someone cuts in line at the grocery store, it’s your amygdala that starts the fireworks show of irritation.

On the other side, we have the prefrontal cortex, or the ‘Executive’. This part of the brain is in charge of decision-making and moderating social behavior.

When you decide not to start a shouting match with the line-cutter and instead calmly ask them to respect the queue, that’s your prefrontal cortex taking charge. [Read: Toxic relationship – what it is, 107 signs, causes, and types of love that hurt you]

In a person with a high sense of entitlement, this balance between the Drama Queen and the

Executive can be a bit off. The amygdala may throw bigger tantrums, and the prefrontal cortex may not always manage to calm things down, leading to entitlement-fueled reactions.

Now, let’s throw another character into the mix – the ‘Self-Serving Bias‘. This isn’t a part of the brain, but rather, a mental script we often follow.

According to this bias, we’re the heroes of our own stories. Scored a date with that cute barista? That’s all thanks to your charm. But got turned down by that attractive person at the gym? That’s clearly because they have poor taste.

Self-serving bias makes us attribute our successes to our own qualities, and our failures to external factors. It’s not hard to see how this could boost our sense of entitlement, right? After all, if you’re the hero, you deserve the best!

The Birth of Entitlement: Nature, Nurture or Just Plain Spoiling?

Ever wondered how a sense of entitlement sprouts and blossoms? No, it’s not delivered by a particularly mischievous stork. [Read: Why does everyone hate me? 69 things you do that people probably don’t like!]

The seed of entitlement is often sown in childhood, watered by societal norms, and finally blooms into a full-fledged personality trait. It’s the age-old “nature versus nurture” question, revamped for the selfie era.

First, let’s talk about ‘nurture.’ Many psychologists argue that our childhood experiences and the environment we grow up in can shape our personalities, including our sense of entitlement.

Picture a kid who’s been given a gold star just for showing up or a teen who’s been lavished with praise for every half-hearted doodle.

Parents and teachers may think they’re boosting the child’s self-esteem, but too much of this ‘participation trophy’ mentality can lead to a burgeoning sense of entitlement.

This brings us to parenting styles.

There’s the Permissive Parent‘ – the one who’s more of a friend than a parent, sets few boundaries, and showers their child with unearned rewards.

Then there’s the Authoritative Parent‘ – the one who sets clear rules, but also explains them and ensures their child feels seen and heard.

Research suggests that the Permissive Parent might unknowingly be grooming an entitlement monster, while the Authoritative Parent is more likely to raise a child who respects others and understands the value of hard work.

But wait, what about ‘nature’? Is there an ‘entitlement gene’ that we’re born with? The jury is still out on this one.

Genetics certainly plays a role in our personality, but as of now, there’s no ‘I-deserve-the-best’ gene that scientists have pinpointed. [Read: 10 Main types of narcissism and 18 steps to treat and help a narcissist]

It’s likely a complex interplay of multiple genes, our brain’s wiring, and of course, our upbringing and environment.

So, whether you’re a product of a ‘Permissive Parent,’ a star in the ‘participation trophy’ culture, or just born with a certain genetic makeup, remember – a sense of entitlement isn’t a life sentence. 

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Are You Entitled After All?

Okay folks, it’s time to take a good, hard look in the mirror. No, not to check if your hair looks okay or to practice your smolder, but to reflect on whether we might be showing signs of entitlement. [Read: Self-centered people – 40 signs and ways to change yourself or deal with one]

Don’t worry, this isn’t an exercise in self-flagellation but rather a fun way to become more self-aware. So, let’s get started!

The Entitlement Checklist

If you’re beginning to suspect that perhaps you have a sense of entitlement, we have a list for you to look at to determine whether you do or not.

1. The World Revolves Around…You?

Do you often feel like your needs, wants, and feelings should take priority over others’? If you nodded so vigorously that you almost gave yourself whiplash, this could be a sign. [Read: Narcissistic relationship – 36 signs, how it feels, patterns, and how to end it]

2. Rejection: A Foreign Concept

Is hearing ‘no’ as rare as spotting a unicorn in your backyard? If you have difficulty accepting ‘no’ for an answer, and feel intensely frustrated or slighted when things don’t go your way, it’s worth noting.

3. The Blame Game Expert

Do you find yourself blaming others when things go south? If you’re always the victim and others are always the perpetrators, you might be seeing the world through entitlement-tinted glasses.

4. Special Treatment? Yes, please!

Do you expect preferential treatment as the default? If you’re not the Queen of England but often feel like you should be treated as such, it’s time for some introspection. [Read: Dramatic diva alert – all the signs that your girl is a drama queen]

Now, before you start panicking that you’ve got an entitlement epidemic on your hands, let’s clear up something important: having self-esteem is NOT the same as having a sense of entitlement.

5. A Dose of Narcissism

This is a term straight out of the psychology textbooks. If you find yourself obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love, psychologists might label this as narcissistic traits.

It’s one thing to dream big, but if your dreams involve trampling over others, it’s time for a reality check. [Read: Can a narcissist change? Why it’s hard and subtle signs they’ll change for you]

6. Lack of Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. If you find it hard to empathize with people, or simply don’t bother trying, this could be a warning sign of entitlement.

An entitled person often struggles to see things from others’ perspectives, which can lead to a “me first” mentality.

7. Moral Licensing

Ever done a good deed and then felt like this gives you the right to act poorly later? That’s called moral licensing, and it’s a sneaky little cognitive bias that can fuel entitlement.

Sure, you may have saved a baby squirrel last week, but that doesn’t give you the right to cut in line at the coffee shop today!

8. Hostile Attribution Bias

This is a tendency to interpret others’ behaviors as having hostile intent, even when the behavior is ambiguous or benign.

If you’re often feeling slighted or attacked when no harm was intended, you might be seeing the world through the lens of hostile attribution bias, which can contribute to a sense of entitlement. [Read:

9. Unrealistic Expectations

Entitled individuals often have expectations that far exceed reality. If you find yourself regularly disappointed by people not living up to your standards, or events not going as perfectly as you imagined, it might be worth asking if your expectations are set too high.

10. Inflated Self-Image

Do you see yourself as the be-all and end-all, second to none? Having confidence is great, but an inflated self-image that’s out of touch with reality can be a sign of entitlement.

It’s great to love yourself, but remember, there’s a fine line between self-love and thinking you’re a cut above the rest. [Read: Confident or cocky? 16 signs that split an arrogant and modest man]

Remember, everyone might exhibit some of these behaviors occasionally. It’s when these behaviors become a regular pattern, causing distress to you and those around you, that they may indicate a sense of entitlement.

But don’t fret, self-awareness is the first step towards change, and as we’ll see in the next section, there are ways to address and overcome entitlement.

Self-Esteem vs. Entitlement: Friends or Frenemies?

It might sound like people who have a sense of entitlement have self-esteem issues. But this isn’t necessarily the case. Here is the difference between self-esteem and entitlement. [Read: 30 Signs of low self-esteem in a woman that reveal a need for self-love]

1. Self-Esteem

Derived from Latin words meaning ‘self’ and ‘estimate,’ self-esteem refers to how we perceive our own worth. It’s about acknowledging our strengths, accepting our flaws, and still feeling worthy of love and respect.

Self-esteem is akin to ‘intrinsic self-worth’ – your value is inherent, not dependent on external accomplishments or validation.

Having healthy self-esteem means holding a balanced, accurate view of oneself. It’s not about thinking you’re perfect or superior to others. Rather, it’s about recognizing your inherent worth, despite your imperfections.

Moreover, those with healthy self-esteem show ‘secure attachment’—a concept from attachment theory, which refers to a safe and supportive relationship with oneself and others.

They’re comfortable with both autonomy and intimacy, can express their needs assertively without infringing on others’ rights, and empathize with others’ feelings and perspectives.

2. Entitlement

Now, let’s tackle entitlement. Entitlement is like self-esteem’s overzealous cousin who drank too much confidence juice. It’s about expecting special privileges, without merit, and feeling superior to others.

While self-esteem is an internal evaluation of worth, entitlement is often externally driven.

It’s linked with ‘extrinsic motivation’— the desire to perform actions for a reward or avoid punishment, rather than for the inherent enjoyment or satisfaction of the action.

Entitlement can also exhibit traits of ‘insecure attachment,’ particularly ‘anxious-preoccupied attachment.’ People with this attachment style often demand excessive attention and validation, fearing rejection or abandonment.

They may infringe upon others’ boundaries, have a hard time saying ‘no,’ and struggle to see situations from others’ perspectives.

In Summary

So, when it comes to self-esteem vs. entitlement, think of it as the difference between a humble, self-respecting friend who knows their worth but also values others, and an arrogant, self-obsessed acquaintance who believes they deserve the world on a silver platter, without having to lift a finger.

By understanding the differences between self-esteem and entitlement, we can foster the former while keeping the latter in check, promoting healthier relationships with ourselves and others. [Read: Attachment styles theory – 4 types and 19 signs and ways you attach to others]

Goodbye, Ego: Strategies to Overcome a Sense of Entitlement

Before we dive in, remember: everyone can have entitlement moments. The key lies in acknowledging these moments and working towards change.

With that in mind, let’s explore some practical, psychology-approved strategies to overcome entitlement.

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy *CBT*: The Mind’s Personal Trainer

Just as we hit the gym to flex our muscles, we can also exercise our brain to better manage entitlement tendencies. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT as it’s commonly known, is a type of psychotherapy that can help with this mental workout.

CBT helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking *cognitive distortions, anyone?*, so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them effectively.

You’ll learn to identify thought patterns that lead to entitlement, challenge these thoughts, and replace them with healthier, more balanced ones.

And the great part? There are tons of self-help CBT resources available, so you don’t necessarily need a therapist’s couch to get started! [Read: How NOT to be an asshole – what makes one, 41 signs, and how to fix yourself]

2. Empathy and Perspective-Taking: Walking a Mile in Others’ Shoes

Empathy – the ability to understand and share others’ feelings – is a powerful antidote to entitlement. It’s backed by a psychological theory called the “theory of mind,” which suggests we can understand that others have thoughts, feelings, and perspectives different from our own.

Practicing empathy means trying to see things from others’ point of view. Next time you’re quick to judge or dismiss someone, pause.

Ask yourself: “How might this person be feeling? What might they be thinking?” You might be surprised by how this shift in perspective can cool down those entitlement flare-ups. [Read: How to show empathy and learn to understand someone else’s feelings]

3. Cultivating Gratitude and Humility: The Feel-Good Duo

Finally, let’s talk about gratitude and humility, the Batman and Robin of psychological well-being.

Numerous studies have found that cultivating these traits can improve mental health, boost happiness, and even help keep entitlement at bay.

Gratitude involves acknowledging and appreciating what you have. It pulls us out of the self-centered orbit and helps us realize the world doesn’t revolve around us. [Read: 44 Warm ways to say “I appreciate you” and show appreciation without words]

Start by keeping a daily gratitude journal, noting down small things you’re thankful for. You’ll soon realize how much you have to be grateful for!

Humility, on the other hand, involves recognizing that we’re part of a larger universe and that everyone has value.

It’s not about belittling yourself; it’s about seeing your own worth while respecting others’. Practice humility by listening more, admitting when you’re wrong, and celebrating others’ achievements. [Read: How to be nice – 20 easy tips to make everyone love being around you]

4. Practice Mindfulness: Stay in the Now

Mindfulness is a psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the present moment. It can be especially helpful in managing entitlement. By focusing on the here and now, we can become more aware of our feelings and thoughts, including those of entitlement.

Mindfulness allows us to notice when we’re having an entitled thought without getting swept away by it. It’s like sitting on the riverbank watching our thoughts float by, instead of being carried downstream by the current.

There are numerous mindfulness practices, including meditation, yoga, or simply taking a few minutes each day to sit quietly and focus on your breath.

5. Develop a Growth Mindset: The Power of Yet

A growth mindset, a term coined by psychologist Carol Dweck, is the belief that our abilities and intelligence can be developed with effort, learning, and persistence.

People with a growth mindset are more likely to take on challenges, persevere in the face of setbacks, and see effort as a path to mastery.

Developing a growth mindset can help with entitlement by encouraging humility and a love of learning. It allows us to see mistakes not as failures, but as opportunities for growth.

6. Assertiveness Training: Find the Middle Ground

Assertiveness, the ability to express oneself effectively and stand up for one’s rights without violating others’, can be a great way to combat entitlement.

It involves communicating our needs and wants in a respectful, direct, and appropriate manner. [Read: 17 Confident ways to be more assertive and speak your mind loud and clear]

People who struggle with entitlement may have difficulty recognizing and respecting others’ boundaries. Assertiveness training can help by teaching them to express their needs without infringing upon others’ rights.

There are numerous online resources, books, and professional courses available to develop assertiveness skills.

7. Seek Professional Help: It’s Okay to Ask

Sometimes, self-help strategies might not be enough, and that’s okay. [Read: 5 Reasons couple’s therapy isn’t working for you]

A trained mental health professional can provide individualized guidance and treatment plans, including psychotherapy, counseling, or even medication in some cases.

If entitlement issues are causing significant distress or impacting your life negatively, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

Remember, change takes time, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Overcoming entitlement is a journey, not a destination. [Read: 45 Positive and negative personality traits that can change your life forever!]

These strategies are tools for the road, and it’s okay to try different ones to see what works best for you. Self-awareness, patience, and perseverance are your best friends on this journey. 

Keep taking small steps, and you’ll be waving goodbye to entitlement and saying hello to healthier, more balanced relationships.

8. Seek Autonomy and Independence

If we want to get fancy, we could call this the process of individuation, a term coined by Carl Jung. It’s about recognizing your own desires and goals and understanding that they won’t always align with those around you.

So, step up, acknowledge your entitlement as one would acknowledge a cognitive bias, then work on it as you would any bad habit—by replacing it with healthier behaviors. Become your own adult—because there’s no helicopter parenting in the real world.

9. Embrace Self-Efficacy

Instead of expecting others to pave your path, remember the psychological concept of self-efficacy—your belief in your ability to handle different situations.

It’s time to stop asking for handouts and start developing self-respect and pride by achieving goals on your own. [Read: How your self-respect in a relationship affects and your love life]

10. Practice Perspective-Taking

Volunteering can give you a peek into the challenges others face, boosting your empathy levels and shaking you out of your entitlement bubble.

It’s an eye-opening way to realize that the world isn’t a pie to be divided, and you’re not necessarily entitled to the largest slice.

11. Challenge Your Comfort Zone

By pushing your boundaries and seeking new experiences, you’re engaging in self-expansion, a psychological concept that fosters personal growth. [Read: How to broaden your horizons and get out of your comfort zone for good]

Whether it’s harvesting apples in Australia or living in a hostel, it’s time to experience the world in all its diversity.

12. Cultivate Gratitude

Gratitude isn’t just about saying thanks when someone hands you a gift—it’s about recognizing and appreciating the good in your life.

Engaging in a daily gratitude practice can help shift your focus from what you’re entitled to, to what you’re blessed with.

13. Set Personal Goals

Identify what you truly desire in life. Having clear, personal goals will steer you away from a life of dependence and entitlement and guide you towards achievement and self-fulfillment. [Read: 57 Simple life questions to get to know yourself and truths to visualize your future]

Start with achievable aims and progress to larger objectives—following the principle of successive approximation in psychology.

14. Foster Personal Responsibility

If you’re looking for a shift away from dependence, consider embracing an internal locus of control. Stop blaming others for your circumstances. Develop self-reliance and resilience instead of relying on external rescue.

15. Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity

Everyone stumbles and falls—that’s the essence of resilience theory. Failure isn’t a sign of your unworthiness, but an opportunity to learn and grow. [Read: Fear of failure and why you shouldn’t be afraid to fail]

It’s a stark reminder that success is often a result of hard work and determination. So, be bold, step out, and remember, whether you stumble or stand tall, you’ll always be able to say, “I did this.”

The Journey to Less Entitlement and More Empathy

Let’s face it, changing long-held attitudes and habits can be as fun as trying to juggle flaming torches while riding a unicycle—difficult, to say the least!

But remember this: change is a journey, not a sprint. You’re not alone in this, and it’s perfectly okay to take one small step at a time. [Read: How to develop empathy and master the art of growing a real heart]

As we’ve explored, entitlement can often be like that one pop song that’s always stuck in our heads, playing on repeat whether we like it or not. But with a bit of practice, we can change the tune to a more harmonious melody.

Start by practicing self-awareness. Remember the power of the “pause” button in your mind. When you feel entitlement creeping in, hit that pause button, take a deep breath, and tune into what’s happening.

What are you feeling? What thoughts are arising? Awareness is the first, crucial step towards transformation. [Read: Positive self-talk – what it is, where it comes from, and how to master it]

Next, flex your empathy muscles. Try to see the world from others’ perspectives. Remember that everyone is fighting their own battles, just as you are.

Acknowledge their feelings and experiences, just as you’d want yours acknowledged. As the old saying goes, treat others how you want to be treated.

Lastly, cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Sure, we might not be on the moon discovering new galaxies *unless you are, and if so, can we come?*, but there’s plenty to be thankful for right here on Earth. [Read: How to be grateful – 20 authentic ways to show gratitude and express it well]

Even something as simple as a warm cup of coffee or a friendly smile from a stranger can be a reason for gratitude.

To wrap it up, let’s remember the words of the great philosopher Albus Dumbledore, “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

Our journey away from entitlement and towards a more empathetic, understanding, and appreciative self is indeed a choice. A choice that we have the power to make, each and every day.

[Read: 43 Things to be grateful for you don’t appreciate enough in life]

Nobody is perfect, and we’re all works in progress. The important thing is that you’re making the effort to lose your sense of entitlement. So, here’s to less entitlement, more empathy, and to you—stepping boldly on this exciting journey of self-discovery!

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