The term “sense of entitlement” is often used to describe people who believe they are owed something just because they exist.
While some people may have a justifiable sense of entitlement, such as a person who feels entitled to health care because they worked hard all their lives and paid taxes, this article will focus on the kind that is not so justifiable. These are people who feel that they deserve things without having earned them or paid for them.
What Is a Sense of Entitlement?
The term “sense of entitlement” describes an attitude, belief, or behavior that leads to the assumption that one deserves special treatment or privileges. It can also describe a situation in which someone else feels entitled to something. It is often used by clinicians and therapists to describe behaviors that are seen as overindulgent and self-centered.
A person with a sense of entitlement might think he deserves special treatment because he has done something great or because he believes he has more rights than others.
Signs of Sense of Entitlement
The signs of a sense of entitlement are subtle. You may not realize that you have a problem until you become aware of the consequences of your behavior. The following are some common signs that you may have a sense of entitlement:
1. They think they deserve better treatment than others do. They believe they should be given special treatment because they are more important than others, even if their accomplishments aren’t any greater than those of others who are being treated equally.
2. They think things should be done their way — no matter what anyone else thinks about it. They don’t care if something doesn’t work out because they think it should go their way, and it’s not worth trying something else when it won’t work out anyway. This can make them inflexible and difficult to get along with because they refuse to compromise on anything that doesn’t go their way in the first place.
3. They feel they are above the rules and laws that apply to everyone else and don’t think they should have to follow them. For example, someone who thinks driving over the speed limit or parking illegally is okay because they’re late for an appointment or just too busy could show signs of a sense of entitlement.
4. They tend to blame others for their failures rather than take responsibility for themselves. This often happens when others’ actions interfere with their goals and desires — for example, if the weather prevents your trip abroad or if someone else gets promoted before you do.
5. They get upset if someone doesn’t give them what they want or if someone doesn’t do what they ask them to do right away without question or complaint; this could be because they think it’s their right to have whatever it is or because it’s wrong for anyone else not to do as they ask at all times without question or complaint.
6. They expect things in life to be easy for them, even though this isn’t always true or fair in life. For example, an entitled person may expect his boss at work to give him a promotion simply because he wants one, even though he hasn’t been doing his job well enough or long enough yet to warrant such advancement in status within the company hierarchy.
7. They don’t apologize when they’ve done something wrong. People who feel entitled never seem to believe that they did anything wrong because they think everything is supposed to go their way all the time. So if they hurt your feelings or do something wrong, they may not apologize immediately because it makes them feel less.
What Causes a Sense of Entitlement?
People with an unhealthy sense of entitlement feel they deserve special treatment without putting in the effort to earn it. This is a dangerous attitude to have because it can lead to anger and resentment when others don’t accommodate them.
Here are some of the causes of an unhealthy sense of entitlement:
- Parents who give their children everything they ask for and never say no
- Parents who fail to set limits or boundaries for their children
- Children who are praised too much for mediocre accomplishments and not encouraged to work hard or improve their skills
- Parents who are too busy with work or other responsibilities and don’t have time for their children’s needs
That said, narcissistic personality disorder has been associated with a sense of entitlement to special treatment without commensurate qualities or accomplishments, according to DSM-5.
Healthy entitlement is a positive thing. It means you feel deserving of certain things in your life, such as financial stability, good relationships, and happiness. You don’t expect these things to come easily — you’re willing to work for them.
Impact on Relationships
When we become entitled, it can be difficult to relate to others. We feel like we are owed something, and this causes us to become unappreciative. This leads to a lack of empathy and the inability to see things from other people’s perspectives. When we have a sense of entitlement, it becomes difficult to maintain healthy relationships because we do not develop the ability to empathize with others or understand their feelings or needs.
If we are always taking and never giving, we will end up in an empty relationship with no emotional connection. We may also be lonely because we don’t have anyone who cares enough about us to put up with our selfishness.
A sense of entitlement can lead people down a dark path where they become self-centered and spend all their time thinking about themselves instead of others. Their behavior can cause them to lose friends and family members who get tired of having someone around who only cares about themselves and not others around them.
Having a sense of entitlement is different from having high self-esteem or confidence in yourself. It’s more about how much you believe that life owes you something and how much you feel others should be responsible for making your life easier.
This attitude can cause problems in relationships, school, work, and even with family members. It can lead to resentment toward others and make it difficult to see the world through their eyes or understand why they might not react to situations the way that you expect them to.
If this sounds like something that might apply to your life, then keep reading to learn more about overcoming a sense of entitlement.
How to Overcome a Sense of Entitlement?
You can do things to help overcome a sense of entitlement. The first thing is to recognize that you have it, and the second is to work on ways to overcome it.
1. Recognizing your sense of entitlement is the first step in overcoming it. You may not even realize that you have this trait, but once you realize what it is, you can take steps to change your attitude about it.
2. Work on being more grateful for the things you have and the people around you who care about you. Instead of thinking about what others are doing better than yourself, focus on what makes them special instead of comparing yourself to them.
3. Learn how to give without expecting anything in return from others. This will help build up your self-esteem so that when someone does something nice for you, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore because you know they just wanted to help without expecting anything from you.
Related Read: Self-esteem vs. Self-confidence: What’s the Difference
4. Stop comparing yourself to others. When we compare ourselves to others, we often find ourselves lacking in some way — looks, intelligence, or anything else. So stop doing it! Instead, focus on building up your own self-confidence by working on your strengths and accepting your weaknesses.
5. Take responsibility for your life situation. It’s easy to blame other people or situations for our problems, but those are the only excuses we use to avoid taking responsibility for our lives and happiness. If you want to change your life situation, stop blaming others and take responsibility by making changes in yourself first!
Difference Between Having a Sense of Entitlement and Being Entitled
How can you tell when someone’s being entitled or if they just have a sense of entitlement?
The difference between having a sense of entitlement and being entitled is that the former is an attitude that you may or may not recognize in yourself. The latter is a belief that you’re owed something by others, whether it’s respect, special treatment, or resources.
A person with a sense of entitlement doesn’t necessarily act entitled. They may have certain expectations about what they deserve but have no problem doing their part to achieve those things. On the other hand, someone who’s actually entitled will usually expect other people to do things for them without any effort on their part.
No matter how talented you are—no matter how good you are at what you do—no one owes you anything. The world doesn’t owe you success just because you worked hard to get it, and no one owes you special treatment (or even basic decency) just because you show up expecting it.
Sometimes, the world is unfair and terribly unjust. Sometimes, things aren’t going to go your way. And that’s okay. You can still be a good person: try to help others when and where you can, work hard for what justice there is in the world, and don’t hold yourself above others for whom life is harder than it has been for you.
- Moeller, S. J., Crocker, J., & Bushman, B. J. (2009). Creating hostility and conflict: Effects of entitlement and self-image goals. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45(2), 448–452. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2008.11.005
- Lange, J., Redford, L., & Crusius, J. (2018). A Status-Seeking Account of Psychological Entitlement. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 45(7), 1113–1128. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167218808501
- New Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition. (2022). Generic.