“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body.
It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
How many of us know folks in our lives who act entitled to things? We talk about it, and so, in some ways we probably all have some feelings of being entitled to something or someone. Yet, some folks carry that feeling with them a lot of the time. There is an aspect of entitlement which is helpful for us to have; feeling entitled to loving parents, to being and feeling loved. Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs there is. Not only is it so very important, it also brings up much of our unfinished or unresolved issues with and within us and our caretakers. In addition, we carry within us unresolved issues across generations that get passed to us in the womb and live in us as if those traumas happened to us.
Many children act as if every toy and gadget that comes out is their right to own. When we are 2 or 3, those actions can be cute. When we are 10 and older, it is not cute. There are adults we know who do the same thing, just with a little more sophistication and with bigger toys and bigger consequences. Where does this sense of entitlement come from? One of the places it comes from is being given too much; too many things without earning them. My son went to a fairly affluent high school. I remember when one of the young men he knew had a car accident and destroyed his Mustang that his parents gave him. After this accident, of course his parents felt that their son needed a car; they replaced their son’s car with a BMW. Did he earn that car in the first place? And in the second place, did he earn an upgrade? The answer is no, he didn’t. How can this young man ever make this up to his over giving parents? He can’t, and some part of him feels badly about it, but is so used to getting things that he only knows how to take from them and then feels he is entitled to those things. His parents may not be emotionally available to their son and so give to him through material possessions rather than through real life affection and nurturance. In other cases, some parents aren’t able to give to themselves much less to their children, emotionally and/or financially. Some parents want to be available to their children but don’t know how or don’t feel they can from some deep underground wounds of their own. Or from some unknowing loyalty they carry to something deeper within them. An example of an unknown loyalty is when we unconsciously feel we can’t have something or be successful because our father wasn’t or lost his business or went bankrupt. We unknowingly carry a loyalty to our father by not doing well and/or by trying to make up to our children what we didn’t have. Whether we are given too much without earning what we are given on some level, or whether we aren’t given what we truly need, we do grow up with some sense of entitlement.
My father was born in 1927 and grew up during the Depression. His parents were struggling. His father couldn’t find a job so his mother had to work. Before that, his mother had physical issues from his birth and had to be hospitalized right birthing her son. She had many unknowing alliances within her, which came first before her son. She was merged with her mother’s feelings, and those came first. One of the ways she was merged with her mother had to do with her having a son. Her mother lost a baby boy by accidentally suffocating him by rolling over him at night with him by her side in bed. Then, dad’s mom’s first child was a boy. How difficult this must have been for her, without her consciously knowing it. She became sick a lot through his young years. My father didn’t get enough from his parents. His father was jealous of his son for having his wife’s attentions, and he wasn’t able to provide for his family or take care of his wife the way he wanted to. He took his anger out on his young son. My father didn’t get love the way he wanted or needed. Most importantly, he never came to terms with his life with his parents and never forgave them. He has rejected them for most of his life. To love them was too painful. As a result, he to this day filled with his dementia, feels entitled to everything. He has to be the best, he has to feel appreciated, he has to come first, and he has to win. He feels entitled to all that. So, he also unconsciously makes up stories based on truth to make him feel like he has it all. He is the best at Bingo, at bridge; everyone loves him, and so on. For many years with his stories, I did think he was one of the best bridge players. I called the organizer for his bridge groups when he was being moved to an assisted living facility in another city to see which group in his new city would be best for him. She told me he would be best in the beginner group. She had nothing at stake in telling me the truth. That was a true eye opener for me. He feels entitled to everything and being the best at everything.
He never received the love he wanted; he didn’t get enough and so went through life being angry when things didn’t go his way. Do any of you know anyone like this? Do you have aspects of this type of feeling entitled inside of you? Again, we all have some. The important thing is to recognize when this happens inside us and to find a way to make peace with this and with what happened with us in our lives. As we find some peace with our entitlement and can see it clearly, we can develop our self love and fill these needs inside of us with us and by us. We can’t get all of our needs met. We can look at our parents with a larger lens and find some compassion for them and find some for ourselves so we can earn our own place in our hearts.
Small Lifestyle Changes that Promote Big Results:
First of all, let’s get out some paper and a writing utensil. Let’s keep this exercise simple. On this sheet of paper, at the top, put four columns.
Column one write, where I feel entitled in my life.
Column two write, where I feel I didn’t get enough.
Column three write, who wasn’t able to provide my needs, and how.
Column four write, where and with whom I need to find some peace or resolution.
Take a few minutes early morning, or before bed, and write out what comes to you. After writing what comes to you for a week, then read back what you have written a few times so you have a greater understanding of this dynamic in your life.
If you would like to share your reactions and what you have learned, and you feel this is helpful for you, I would love to hear from you.