When we were young it was cute when we threw tantrums.
People would coo at us, maybe even pick us up and hold us, telling us in ooey-gooey tones that “you’ll get it later” or “you’ve got to wait a little while.”
Then our tears would be mopped up, our snotty little noses would be wiped, and we’d be placed gently to the ground again.
As we grew older, some of us would learn to wait our turn, be patient and show consideration for others. Some of us, however, didn’t.
We’d continue throwing tantrums but in more mature and sophisticated ways.
We’d continue to demand our fair share from others, but more subtly, and often without screaming or rolling around on the floor crying.
And lastly, we’d continue to expect special treatment just because … well, because it’s us and we deserve it – naturally!
Well here’s the thing … we’ve all got to grow up at some point. We’ve all got to realize that we’re not the center of the universe.
As a prevalent collective shadow in this world, we need to be willing to face this flaw with courage in order to grow as people and connect more from the heart with others.
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Me! Me! Me!
Having a sense of entitlement can easily be mistaken as natural, and even healthy.
After all, don’t our parents and societies constantly tell us that “we’re unique,” “we’re special,” and “we’re number one”?
The truth is, having a sense of entitlement is a malignant form of self-love because it often harms the people around us, which indirectly harms us in the long term.
What Does Having a “Sense of Entitlement” Mean?
In essence, a sense of entitlement is formed and upheld by the belief that we are the center of the universe, and if the universe doesn’t meet our needs and desires, all hell will break loose.
This narcissistic mindset is often the result of failing to learn as children and young adults that we are not at the center of the universe, and other people don’t merely exist to serve our needs and wants.
Examples of Entitled Behaviors
Some typical examples of entitled behavior include the following:
- Tim and Estelle are in a long-term relationship. Tim works full-time to support Estelle and their child in a small two-bedroom apartment. Estelle spends a large portion of Tim’s money on dresses and fancy accessories. When confronted, Estelle screams that she never wanted to live a “poor and lonely life,” and Tim never treats her anyway.
- Antonio shows up unexpectedly at his mother’s house drunk one night expecting to receive a bed and a meal. When his mother refuses, telling him to call his girlfriend to pick him up, he argues with her and drives away in a drunken rage, not talking to her for the next 6 months.
- Katie and Xiang are best friends. But when Katie doesn’t respond to one of Xiang’s texts within half an hour, Xiang blocks her and doesn’t talk to her for the next week. Xiang fights with Katie accusing her of “not caring” and “forgetting about her.”
- Alex and Ben are a gay couple who are about to get married. While Ben wants a humble and modest ceremony, Alex wants it to be extravagant and expensive. Meeting with the wedding adviser while Ben is sick one day, Alex raises the budget from $5,000 to $20,000. When Ben finds out he demands angrily why. Alex says that he “deserves more than a measly little wedding” and guilt trips Ben into going through with it.
These are only a few illustrations, but there are countless stories out there that exemplify both a passive and aggressive disregard for others.
Self-Growth & Shadow Work
We all contain a little bit of a sense of entitlement. Let’s face it, it’s part of having an ego and being human!
However, unfortunately, this trait is one of those sneaky little shadows that we often aren’t aware of within ourselves and others – before it’s too late!
This website is about helping you to be honest with yourself, do a little soul searching, and evolve on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level.
If you’ve come to this page because you’re enraged at someone who exhibits signs of entitlement, pause to reflect for a moment …
… what makes you so angry at this entitled person?
And might you have displayed the same behaviors in the past?
Let’s be real here. None of us are perfect. We’re not excusing another person’s behavior here. Instead, we’re trying to regain a sense of self-empowerment.
Shadow work helps us to reclaim our projections and not be controlled by habits such as hatred and self-absorption.
We’ll explore shadow work a little more later.
15 Sense of Entitlement Symptoms
By now you may be wondering: do I (or does someone else I know) have a sense of entitlement?
Like anything in life, there is a spectrum, and while you may not be a full-blown narcissist, you may exhibit a certain level of selfishness that makes other people’s lives hard.
Here are some common sense of entitlement signs:
1. Imposing unrealistic demands on family, children, friends, acquaintances, lovers, employees, and/or employers.
2. Tendency to feel sorry for oneself if things don’t work out the way one wants (self-pity) and openly advertising this in a melodramatic, attention-seeking way.
3. Being called by others names such as “bully,” “manipulative,” “ruthless,” “egotistical,” “vain,” or “liar.”
4. The belief that one deserves happiness and has to go to great, sometimes extreme lengths to ensure that happens, usually at the expense of others.
5. Punishing people when they don’t do what one wants either passively (e.g., silent treatment, gossiping, spreading rumors) or aggressively (e.g., shouting, verbally/physically abusing).
6. Constantly seeing other people as competition or “threats.”
7. Tendency to exhibit many double-standards in the way one behaves/interacts with other people, e.g., I can be late and forget my duties and commitments, but YOU can’t; I can treat myself, but YOU can’t; I can abuse or disrespect you, but YOU can’t to ME.
8. Tendency to take more than give in friendships and relationships.
9. Tendency to look out for oneself and one’s needs and desires more than anyone else 100% of the time.
10. Having a hard time negotiating or compromising.
11. Having a deep-seated conviction that one is intrinsically top priority and should always come first, even at the expense of stepping on others.
12. Facing others who are constantly offended or upset by what one says/does.
13. Thinking that one is better or more important than other people, and other people should see this and unquestioningly comply.
14. Craving admiration and adoration.
15. Asserting one’s dominance or superiority over other people and finding it second nature.
How to Overcome a Sense of Entitlement
It’s important to remember that we all suffer from personality flaws.
While some of us are stingy or deeply insecure, others of us – you guessed it – have a sense of entitlement!
Whether you’ve reached rock bottom in your relationship, have gone through a dark night of the soul, or are simply doing some inner work, we all reach a point in life when we face the truth about ourselves.
And the truth hurts.
If you tend to show this trait, there are many ways to slowly work through it to improve the quality of your life, and the lives of others.
- Developing more self-awareness. Without being aware of what you think, feel, and do, you won’t be able to progress very far. Journaling is a great way to begin developing more self-understanding.
- Identifying your inner expectations about the world, as well as deep-seated beliefs and ideals. Often, having a sense of entitlement stems from unhealthy or unrealistic perceptions that you may not even be aware of. See our article on core beliefs.
- Work to accept life as it is without imposing your beliefs, ideals, or expectations over the top. This includes practicing forgiveness, learning the art of letting go, and allowing people to be the way they are naturally.
- Concentrate on developing compassion and empathy. Asking “How does this affect others?” “How does s/he feel right now?” “How would I feel if I was her?” helps to broaden the mind, and open it to new and beneficial ways of thinking.
- Celebrate with other people, and celebrate other people. Pay attention to the happiness and joy of others: happiness shared is happiness multiplied. Also, being thankful for the people in your life allows you to place more importance in them, seeing how truly special they are. (See our article on being grateful.)
- Slowly work on cultivating true self-love. If treating yourself with compassion is too hard at first, focus on practicing self-care instead.
- Explore your shadow self after building healthy self-compassion. Learning to be gentle with yourself always comes before shadow work because, otherwise, this practice can easily lead to more self-loathing. When you feel ready to dive into your shadow (i.e., your dark side), I recommend starting off with taking our shadow self test and then doing some self-reflection.
Change won’t come overnight, but with dedication and willpower, you can develop healthier self-worth that isn’t dependant on others being undermined.
The very fact that you’ve got to this point in the article is a sign that you’re courageous enough to grow and change. So well done!
Self-entitlement is a common shadow quality. Have you observed it within yourself or another? Share below in the comments.