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We all know someone who seems to believe the world revolves around their wants and needs. They act like the world owes them everything and they tend to throw fits when things don't go the way they want.
They may always be late and not apologize, yet throw a tantrum if you are the one who is late. They don't seem to apply the same rules to themselves as they do to everyone else. These are the types of people who operate from an entitlement mentality. And it is important to learn to deal with these individuals effectively… otherwise your life can become easily and unnecessarily disrupted.
What is a Sense of Entitlement?
A sense of entitlement is the belief that you are owed something, without having to do much or any work to achieve it. In a sense, we all have this to a degree. For example, it is perfectly normal to expect others to treat us as though we are individuals with a heart and brain. Still, that expectation doesn't always translate into us getting what we want. Well-adjusted adults understand this and learn how to deal with the occasional disappointment.
A person with a sense of entitlement expects the world to treat them as though they are better than others. They treat others as though they are inferior and exist only to serve themselves.
A Few Words on a Healthy Sense of Entitlement
Expecting something, or asking someone to help with something you can't do or get yourself, is normal. That does not make you self-entitled. Examples may include:
Some people, largely female, have been conditioned to believe their needs and wants are somehow bad. They give, but are afraid to ask for even the most basic needs. These women are at risk of being abused in every way because they are afraid to say no to anyone about anything. They feel they don't deserve things like love, safety, or happiness.
But hear this: expecting certain things is healthy. What matters is that you don't automatically assume the world is going to give you these things. It is also important to understand that these are things everyone should have, not just you, and you are willing to give others what you expect.
How Entitlement Adversely Affects Your Mental Well-Being
An entitled person is likely to find themselves isolated from friends and family. Their arguing and demands normally end up seeing those who love them walk away at some point. These individuals are chronically disappointed. Their unmet needs and expectations leave them angry, depressed and feeling like they are being treated unfairly.
This constant negativity can lead to both physical and psychological distress. Depression and anger issues are often present. The constant upset can create problems with high blood pressure, sugar regulation, and heart problems. Chronic stress may lead to self-medication, which becomes an addiction. Entitled people are some of the unhappy individuals that exist.
What Causes Entitlement Mentality?
It isn't completely clear what causes every case of entitlement, but it is believed that the cause is most often one of three reasons.
1. Getting everything you wanted as a child. Children who are never told no or who have parents give in to every demand grow up believing that is how the world works. These kids learn that with enough fuss or manipulation, they will get their way.
2. A childhood disregarding important needs. A smaller group of people with this type of personality feel that since they did not get what they needed as children that they deserve to get it now as adults. Often, these children came from homes where one or both parents were entitled and ignored the needs of their children.
3. Mental illness. This is often the greatest factor in play in regard to entitled people. This is a dominating trait of narcissistic personality disorder. While not all people who have an entitled mindset are narcissistic, all people with narcissistic personality disorder feel entitled.
Regardless of the cause behind the actions, those with entitlement personalities are very difficult to deal with. Let's take a quick look at the main clues that this is what you are dealing with.
Signs You Are Dealing With Entitlement Mentality
The person who feels entitled will exhibit a great number of the following traits. While they are not all present at all times, there is a distinct pattern.
1. Think rules don't apply to them. Because this individual believes they are more important than everyone else, they will disregard any rules that hinder them getting what they want. They won't follow directions on how to complete jobs, will disregard waiting their turn, and will ignore any other rules. These same people, however, are quick to point out when others don't follow rules and inconvenience them.
2. Feel they deserve the best without earning it. Entitled individuals don't believe they need to earn things. They may want the top positions at work from the first day they are hired and won't want to work their way up the ladder. They will complain if they aren't given perfect grades on schoolwork, aren't chosen for the lead in a play, or don't receive the top honors.
3. Don't like being told “No”. You've met the person who throws a temper tantrum when someone tells them no. They will try bullying, tantrums, threats, and any other method at their disposal if they are told “No” for any reason. Manipulation is one of their strongest traits.
4. Only care about their own needs and wants. The entitled person doesn't care what you have to give up or how inconvenienced you are as long as it means they get what they want. They expect you to consider their needs and wants above your own because they believe they deserve the best of everything.
5. Constantly seek attention/validation. Underlying their demands, the entitled person often ties the meeting of their wants with their self-worth. They expect the rest of the world to see them as special and deserving and need to be told they are special on a regular basis. Think about the person who is always posting selfies to get likes and be told how beautiful they are. Without that attention or validation, the person becomes depressed and feels alone.
6. Love pity parties. Did someone cut them off in traffic? You can expect to hear about it for hours, if not days. How could someone have the audacity to treat them with such disrespect?
7. They will belittle others if they don't get their way. The entitled person will tear you down verbally and make you feel guilty for not giving into their demands. They will call names, talk about you to everyone who will listen, and treat you as though you are worthless if you don't give in.
8. Will sabotage another's success to win. Entitled people are not above sabotaging another's success if it means they come out on top. This individual has to win at all costs and believes any means is fair game if it gets them where they want to be.
9. They don't care who they hurt to get what they want. Since they see everyone as beneath them, these individuals don't care who suffers as long as they get what they believe they deserve. These are the same people that will literally take candy from a child if they happen to want that candy.
How to Deal With People Who Have Entitlement Mentality
While it is not your job to try and “fix” a person with an entitlement mentality, and truly it is impossible in most cases, you do have to live or work with these individuals. There are ways to help you keep from falling into their trap and prevent them from causing you undue stress. Let's take a look.
With Regards to Children
Children are born literally needing to have someone else meet their needs and wants. As they grow, however, it is up to parents to help teach them how they can gradually increase their ability to meet their own needs and not expect the world to do so. There are three very important things parents and caregivers can do when a child is young to help head off entitlement behavior.
1. Teach necessary skills. This includes teaching things like empathy, perseverance, and gratitude. All of these are things that an entitled person lacks. Teaching children how to deal with disappointment and the joy of giving will help them learn that other people are just as important as they are. Teach them how to give to others without expectation and let them see that many don't have what they do.
2. Make them earn things. As your child gets older, make them earn such things as video game time, a new toy, or attending a special event. Give them chores to do and tie certain things to them getting those chores done. If they don't do what is required, they don't get what they want. Don't give in and don't argue. They need to understand that money isn't endless, so teach them money skills such as saving for something they want.
3. Show how privilege expands with responsibility. The real world doesn't work without people doing things to make it work. People with higher positions have greater responsibilities. If your child wants something like a pet or a later curfew, come up with a way for them to show they can handle responsibility. For example, if they want to be able to stay out later, give them a set amount of time, such as two months, where they demonstrate their willingness and ability to be home at the current time. No excuses. If they do so, then extend the time by maybe 15 minutes or a half-hour longer. If they don't succeed, be willing to start the process over from the beginning.
These three things will help many children avoid becoming entitled people, but what do you do for the adults in your life, such as family and coworkers who are already there? Let's take a look.
7 Ways to Deal with Entitled People (Adults) in Your Life
1. Don't nourish it.
Even if you can give the entitled person what they ask for, don't unless it is something that you absolutely don't mind doing. For example, your boss demands you pick up their lunch. If you happen to be going out to that particular place yourself, then say “Since I'm already going there, sure I can do it.” Be willing to say no if it is an inconvenience.
2. Give a hand up, not a handout.
Ask yourself if doing what the person demands is actually going to help them learn to do things for themselves. Say your sibling lost their job and apartment and demands you let them stay with you. You don't want to see them on the streets so you say yes. However, don't leave it at that. Give them a time limit and a set of expectations on how you want them to work toward becoming independent. Let them know you aren't doing their laundry, paying for their smoking habit, or letting them live there indefinitely, or without them contributing in some way, even if it's helping with the chores or walking the dog.
3. Practice assertiveness.
Be willing to say “No” and then stick with it. Don't cave in and don't allow yourself to be used. You deserve fair treatment and it is up to you to make that known.
4. Set boundaries.
This ties in with helping rather than doing the task. “I will do this to help you, but you will need to figure out how to do that part because I have other obligations.”
5. Don't get caught up in arguing.
Arguing is a way the entitled person tries to bully others. Say no and then walk away. The silent treatment is one thing most entitled people can't deal with well.
6. Call them out with respect.
Calmly state that you feel the request is unfair to you and that you don't appreciate being talked to in the manner the person is speaking. Explain that you have your own needs to consider and that they are incorrect in expecting others to do what they should be doing. Some people truly don't understand how they are coming across.
7. Use wish-fulfillment statements.
This works in many circumstances. Say calmly, “I wish I could do what you are asking. However, I can't because. Let me help you figure out how to get it done.” An example of this would be a student who failed a test and wants a do-over. Say, “I wish I could give you one but that is unfair to the other students and against my policy. However, let's see how we can help you do better on your next test.”
Final Thoughts on Entitlement Mentality
In some extreme cases, you may need to completely cut ties with an entitled person. This is something that happens to most of them eventually.
Practicing the above things regularly, however, will help keep your sanity and make the interactions less stressful. If being assertive is new to you, take a look at ways you can learn to increase your ability to be assertive and stand up for yourself.