Are you dealing with entitled people?

There are people who feel entitled, who take everything for granted and who, when they don’t get what they want, most often start throwing mud at others.

To feel entitled means to believe that you are inherently deserving certain favors or privileges, that the world owes you something, even though you offer nothing, that you are special and others aren’t and for this reason you must be treated differently, no matter how you behave with those around you and no matter what you do.

An attitude like this can have its roots in childhood, if the child is not set certain limits and boundaries, when he learns that he can do anything without consequences, when he is too spoiled and receives everything he wants regardless of the way he behaves. In this way he can learn that he deserves more than other people, even if he really isn’t better than others. On the other hand, such an attitude can develop as a way to compensate for childhood shortcomings or abuses and as a defense mechanism - the child who has grown into an adult wants to "take revenge" or protect himself from potential dangers through this kind of behavior. Also, narcissistic and antisocial personalities  have this characteristic.

But there are other factors that contribute to the development of this attitude - for example, if a person is used to others solving their problems and doing things for them, if they are used to receiving and being helped all the time, if they value themselves through the position / job they have or through their role / social status and they considers themselves superior to others and entitled to receive favors and people’s respect because of this.

Entitled people may usually seem very self-confident, but this attitude is often lacking in authenticity because people who really are self-confident  and who have a healthy self-esteem don’t "compete" with others, don’t feel the need to prove others who they are and they don’t feel hurt if others don’t meet their requirements and expectations because they take responsibility for their own life and evolution, they know their limits and respect other people’s limits knowing that no one owes them anything.

Entitled people feel that everything that happens should benefit them, they have an exaggerated perception of their own "importance", but behind all these is hidden a lack of self-appreciation and they need others to admire and respect them by granting them this preferential treatment.

A person like this may ask someone for a favor (and asking for this favor may rather sound like a command) without realizing that his/her requirements are inappropriate or that the other person has no obligation to meet his/her expectations, and if he/she is refused (either because the other person doesn’t have the necessary resources to help him/her, can’t or simply doesn’t want to do so), in addition to the fact that he/she will feel disappointment, he/she may also feel anger or resentment, may become hostile, may start to gossip, to denigrate, to accuse of untrue things.

By refusing a person who thinks he/she is entitled to receive what he/she wants, regardless of costs, you can expect him/her trying to manipulate and control you, to emotionally blackmail you, and then, if these strategies don't work either, you can expect him/her trying to get back at you. From the good and wonderful person you were, you become for him/her the worst person ever. He/she will tell you that you have disappointed them, that you aren’t who he/she thought you were, that you are selfish, inconsiderate, treacherous, evil. He/she will badmouth you in front of others and using what he/she knows about you, he/she will distort the truth and put you in a bad light. He/she will accuse you of things that aren’t true, will attack you or try to set up roadblocks for you.

The disappointment and frustration which that person feels when he/she is refused or when things don’t go the way he/she wants, threatens the image he/she has built of himself and endangers his/her belief that he/she is "special". Thus, in order to protect himself, he/she blames, criticizes or defames others, he/she doesn’t take any responsibility, he/she doesn’t think that maybe he/she is the one who is wrong or the one who has unrealistic expectations.

An entitled person can also have double standards - for example, if he/she is asked for something, he/she can feel attacked or aggrieved, especially if he doesn’t benefit directly from it, but if he/she is the one who asks for favors and faces a refusal, he/she will make a whole drama out of it. They want to receive favors regardless of their behavior and what they bring to that relationship. They don’t take into account the nature of their requests (because they consider that they deserve anything), they don’t have the patience to get an answer, and if the answer is negative they may even feel betrayed - “you betrayed me because you were not available to me when I wanted it and how I wanted it”.

If someone has what he/she wants, but:

- he/she can’t have access to those things (because he/she doesn’t make any effort to fulfill his/her goals and dreams, because he/she wastes his/her time with momentary distractions or daily unimportant things without doing something constructive or productive or he/she indulges in boredom, disinterestedness, dissatisfaction);

- or he/she can’t benefit of the person who has access to them, he/she will start to criticize that person, to talk bad about them, to say that they are successful due to luck, favorable circumstances or because they stole or deceived others.

A person who is aware of their own value and potential doesn’t envy others, doesn’t look at them with superiority or inferiority, but with admiration and respect. He/she doesn’t have all kind of claims and he/she doesn’t feel the need to put others down because their success puts him/her face to face with his/her own (self) limitations.

Entitled people need to feel admired and respected by those around them (whether they deserve it or not), and the fact that someone else may be more admired or respected than they are can make them feel envy and they may have the need to dismiss others’ achievements in order to protect their self-image.

Entitled people who show a superior attitude or who seem to be very confident, even aggressive, aren’t really pleased with themselves and aren’t spared from suffering. They are often disappointed when their unrealistic expectations aren’t met, they start to feel hostility, resentment, anger, they depend on the validations of those around them, and if something threatens their self-image, their fragile ego begins to crumble, they consume their energy trying to protect their self-image, instead of trying to solve their real problems. Their relationships can often be conflicted, and their hostility and disrespectful behavior can eventually cause others to distance themselves from them.

Relationships involve reciprocity, interest, but also showing respect and compassion, and for entitled people it matters more to feel that they have won what they wanted, that they have managed to subdue or convince others, it matters more to feel “above” others than to build together, bringing into the relationship everything that involves building a dynamic that will really enrich their existence.

If you feel that you are facing such issues or if these attitudinal and behavioral patterns have deteriorated your quality of life and your relationships, it may be helpful to seek the help of a psychotherapist. It may also be helpful to try to put yourself in the other person's shoes, to try to understand their point of view and how they feel, to analyze your expectations and whether or not they are realistic and reasonable, to try to see people beyond the benefits you can get from them, and in this way treat them with respect, regardless of their social status, positions or material possessions.

If you have people around you who have this attitude, who feel entitled, I invite you to realize that you have no obligation to fulfill their expectations. Of course, they may have all kinds of expectations and demands, but this doesn’t mean that you have to meet their expectations or comply with their requirements. If you can’t or don’t want to respond to a request, you can respectfully refuse, avoiding criticism or entering into defensive discussions with that person.

Be clear and firm about what you are willing or unwilling to accept and set your personal limits and boundaries of interaction. Notice what it’s necessary to change about your attitude and behavior to not allow others to behave with you in a way that bothers you.

Don't give in to the pressure to please them just because they think they have the right to have all their wishes and requirements met - learn to say “no”, and this way you will no longer reinforce this behavior, which can be beneficial, in the end, for them as well. When  you reaffirm your limits and boundaries, when you don't give in to emotional blackmail, manipulation, including intimidation, you say "no" to dysfunctional and unhealthy behaviors.

If nothing seems to work, distance yourself or cut any connection if that relationship does you more harm than good.

And last but not least, don't let yourself be affected by the gossip and wickedness of those people whose ego is hurt. Observe people as they are and why they do what they do and you will see that, most of the time, it’s not even about you, about something you did or did not do, but about their wounds, insecurities and "shadows".

Dr. Ursula Sandner


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