Entitlement Thinking Traps You in Mediocrity and Leads to Depression

The problem with entitlement thinking is it can be such a huge drain on my motivation. If I believe I’m owed something, I’m not going to want to work very hard to obtain it – it seems unfair to expect me to work hard for something that is already rightly mine.

Greed

What Are You Entitled To in Life?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve suffered plenty of ‘delusions of grandeur’ when it comes to the things I’ve felt entitled to. There are millions of people on the planet with barely enough to eat so to believe I’m entitled to special treatment is just wilful ignorance. We come into the world with nothing, so what makes us think we are entitled to anything?

Feeling Deserving is Not the Same as Feeling Entitled To Something

If I feel ‘entitled’ to something, it means that I expect the universe to deliver it to me – it’s what I’m owed. When I feel deserving of something, it’s a statement of my self-worth. It means I’ve performed a self-assessment and determined I’ve done enough for me to be worthy of achieving a certain result.

It is easier to understand the difference between ‘entitled to’ and ‘deserving of’ by using an example. If I feel entitled to lots of luxuries in my life, it means that I’m going to be waiting for these nice things to just appear without any effort on my part. If I feel deserving of some luxury, it means that I’ve been working hard enough to create the right conditions for these things to begin appearing in my life.

If I feel worthy of of a certain result, it means that I’ll view the achievement of this result as a type of reward. I’ll feel good about myself, and I’ll be full of gratitude. If I have a sense of entitlement in regards to this result, it is not going to mean that much to me when it is achieved.

How Entitlement Thinking Can Trap You in Mediocrity and Lead to Depression

Entitlement thinking is dangerous because:

Entitlement Thinking Turns Me Into a Victim

If I feel entitled to something I don’t have, it means that I’m going to see myself as a victim. I’ll need to blame somebody else for all that is missing from my life – it is often this type of thinking that is the driving force behind racism and bigotry. Entitlement thinking easily leads to resentment and bitterness – it brings out the worst in people.

Becoming a victim puts me into a position where I’m powerless – it means I’m waiting for somebody else to come and fix me. It erodes my motivation and can trap me in mediocrity indefinitely.

Entitlement Thinking Leads to Depression

I’ve heard depression described as anger and resentment turned inwards. My periods of depression always occur when I become convinced the universe is treating my unfairly. It means I’ve been expecting things to happen in a certain way, and I now feel despondent because things haven’t gone as planned. It is only by understanding that I’m not really entitled to anything that I can prevent these journeys into despair.

Entitlement Thinking Means Missing Out on the Real Juicy Goodness of Life

One of my favourite quotes is by WB Yates where he says:

“Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing”

In order to achieve anything of value in my life, I need to be willing to grow. If I already feel entitled to the end result, I’m not going to be willing to do this work. It basically means I’m looking for something for nothing. Even if the result is achieved without any effort (maybe I’ll win the lottery), I’m still going to be missing out on the real juicy goodness. This is because it is the growth I experience when working towards a goal that is the real prize – not the goal itself.

Tips for Overcoming Entitlement Thinking

  • Put your focus on becoming worthy of achieving your desires
  • Examine any ideas you have about your entitlements – are you really entitled to these things or are you just deluding yourself?
  • Remember that you came into this world with nothing – this is all the universe owes you
  • Don’t see yourself as a victim – go out there and do what is necessary to achieve your goals
  • Understand that it is the journey and not the destination that is the real prize
  • 7 Comments

    1. Mary Lewis

      Wonderful piece, Paul. I thought we might part ways on this one, but no, not even close.

      And the quote from W.B. is a gem that I was unfamiliar with.

      ““Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing”

      So, so true – for me, anyhow!

      • Thanks Mary – I did worry that using the words ‘entitlement thinking’ might send the wrong message. I just know that thinking this way has been one of the biggest blocks to my own happiness.

    2. Very interesting post. I see the Middle Eastern culture as rife with this sort of thinking, not among everyone, but among the majority. Maybe this accounts for the mediocre work and the stealing and corruption.

    3. Diana

      This is a good piece and crystalizes some of the things I see in depressed people around me. The problem is with convincing people who see their entitlement as a truth that it is actually the source of their problems. Entitled thinkers are very unreceptive to the ideas in this article and actually get angry when they are brought to light. How do we get through to them to help them see the way out of their unhappiness?

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