Strategies for Curing Entitled Attitudes


November 2, 2018

We see the word entitlement all over the media these days.  It has to do with a combination of two attitudes: 

(1) I need to be treated as special, and

(2) I am not responsible for the impact of my behavior on anyone. 

And it comes out as selfishness, narcissism and a lack of empathy for others.

We tend to see celebrities, politicians and pro athletes in this light, but entitlement is something the entire human race deals with.  It can damage a marriage, a dating relationship, a family, an organization or a church.  So here are some action steps that can change things, either in yourself or someone in your life.  These helps are from the just-released softcover edition of my book The Entitlement Cure.

Take a meaningful risk every week. 

Though they don’t show it, entitled people are terribly afraid of trying new things.  Underneath the attitude, they tend to have lots of vulnerability to shame and don’t want to be seen by others, or by themselves, as having flaws and screwups.  So if the person you are concerned about is a 15-year old, have him do a new sport, try out for a part in a school play, or run for office.  Support him but hold him accountable.  Whether he succeeds or fails, he will become healthier, more confident and less entitled.

Keep inconvenient commitments. 

When we blow off appointments and work deadlines because they don’t feel fun, we are showing a lack of empathy and concern for the feelings and situations of others.  You are not being rigid to hold yourself and others accountable to do hard things that have been committed.  It builds trust in others and decreases our natural self-absorption.

Say “I don’t know.” 

Entitlement insists that the person be seen as having all the answers.  What a boring lunch to be with someone who pontificates about all of his opinions and solutions!  Just be real and humble and when you don’t know how to build a spaceship to Mars, say, “Musk may know how to do that, but I don’t know, let me research that.”  People are drawn to humility and curiosity.  They are turned off by lectures and uber-advice.

You’ll see changes quickly with these tips.  They work.  Be an Entitlement-Buster!

John Townsend, Ph.D.

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