Why Do People Feel Entitled?

In Creating Happiness, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

Lazy Businesswoman or StudentIt seems to me that every time I turn around these days, I run into another story, situation, discussion or scenario where someone or some group believes that they are entitled to some type of benefit or job or free program.  While I do believe that we should help those around us who are in need, entitlement is different.  Since feeling entitled is such a foreign concept to me, I decided to explore this concept and how it may have come about.  In addition, I also wanted to analyze the consequences of a society that believes in entitlements.

If people are required to take responsibility for their own choices and behaviors rather than expecting others to pay for their choices, we would all be so much better off and I think that the time has come when we should unite in one voice and say, no more.

I first noticed entitlements when it came to some of our government programs.  There were those who were not willing to work but felt that they should receive the benefits of handouts at the expense of the hard work of lots of other people.  And it seemed like the more they were given, the more they expected.  Then I started to see signs of entitlement in the workplace. There were students graduating from college who thought that they could present themselves at the business or company of their choice and they should immediately receive a top paying job with a big title with no experience. And then there were the younger people who wanted every new toy, gadget, electronic item, etc. that they saw and believed that it should be given to them by their parents, no questions asked.  As I saw this mentality growing, I had to ask myself the question, how did we get here?

For most of us, we have worked for what we have.  We were taught that if we wanted something, we needed to save up from our allowances or the money earned from babysitting or doing extra chores or in whatever way our parents designated that we do in order to earn what we wanted.  And, of course, if there was something that we wanted but our parents determined was not good for us, there was no way that we would be allowed to have it even if we had the money.  If we wanted extra privileges, we had to earn those also.  In order to be allowed to stay out later, we had to prove that we would meet the curfew that was established.  If we wanted to stay at a friend’s house, we had to have proven that we knew how to behave there and we knew that we had to listen to what we were told to do by our friend’s parents as if they were our own parents.  We earned the money for our college educations or at least part of it and it had real value to us which resulted in our working hard to get better grades.  And when you graduated, you interviewed and prayed that someone would hire you just to give you a start, a chance to prove yourself so that you might be able to move on up in the organization.

For some, they were given everything as they grew up and they hold the belief that their children are entitled to the same.  They don’t know any other way.  For those who may have had to work hard for what they got, they don’t want for their children to have to do the same thing because they know how they felt when they were not able to have all of the coolest clothes or were not able to go out and spend lots of money for dinners and services like their friends were able to do.  And so many have bought into the mentality that their kids have to be able to compete with other kids on all levels in order to survive in the future. There is still another group who compete on the adult level with their friends and peers to prove how wealthy they are and therefore, throw their children into the mix by trying to outdo whatever the other kids are receiving from their parents.

I am grateful that I was taught in the way that I was.  I know that I feel better about myself when I earn a promotion at work.  I appreciate anything so much more because I saved up the money to get that product or service so I appreciate everything on a level that a lot of other people may never know.  But, most of all I believe that there is a misconception about helping others in time of need as opposed to thinking that everyone is entitled to everything.

As an example, I don’t own a home because I did not want to take on the responsibility of having to earn enough to pay for not only the monthly payments but also for all of the upkeep that is needed.  Therefore, I don’t think that others are entitled to own homes that they can’t afford and if they choose to do so and get into financial problems as a result, I shouldn’t have to help bail them out. If people are required to take responsibility for their own choices and behaviors rather than expecting others to pay for their choices, we would all be so much better off and I think that the time has come when we should unite in one voice and say, no more.  No one is entitled to anything in this life and we are being very unfair to ourselves and others when we forget this very premise.