Entitled? Yes, but to what?
Many people feel entitled to a wide range of benefits, services and special treatment. Unfortunately, our service-oriented government has allowed many of us to grow accustomed to having our needs met, sometimes when they really aren't needs, but rather just a collection of wants that we feel very strongly about.
These type of feelings can creep into our lives and influence our behavior. Let's look at what many people believe they have coming to them and why these sort of beliefs are absolutely the wrong direction for us to go in if we're truly focused on personal success and frugal living. Let me explain why our life of frugality is placed in harm's way if we start believing someone owes us something.
First, at a very basic level, when we believe that we're entitled to something, we start to take it for granted and then we lose our interest in obtaining it for ourselves. This affects our drive, our interest and our enthusiasm, the very things we need to maintain if we're going to be successful at anything.
Second, our belief that someone else owes us something creates a dependency upon others. Any sort of dependency we allow to form will do two things: 1) make us less able to help ourselves; and, 2) give others power over us. Whether we're trying to get out of debt, accumulate wealth, or get a better paying job, it's not in any way a benefit to be less able, nor is it in our best interest to allow someone else to have control over our future.
Many of us Feel Entitled
Let's look at some of the odd things some of us believe we're entitled to.
A static world in which what we're accustomed to stays that way for as long as we want it to. I recall a fellow government employee switching his vote for federal office holders simply because the expectations in terms of salary, benefits and retirement had changed since he first held a job with the federal government. Isn't it a bit unrealistic to expect that a government job, heavily influenced by politics, would never change over the course of one's career? It's unrealistic to expect that from any form of employment, even self-employment.
In another example, a friend of mine commented that there were so many people up in arms about the rate hike from Netflix, largely attributable to streaming video. It seems that no one screamed about getting streaming video as a bonus feature of their plan, but there are plenty angry about it now that a charge is associated with this value added. Apparently they felt like the bonus service was owed to them without additional charge - ever.
Compensation for loses that are our own fault. I could point to lots of examples that involve the government, but let's just look at some on an individual level because that's the point of this discussion; many of us believe, as individuals, that we're entitled.
My first example is that of an individual who purchased a very expensive mattress and box spring set, only to have it fall off of his truck. He hauled it back to the store, expecting the place where he bought it to replace it or provide some sort of compensation for his loss. This is after the store manager had warned him against carrying the bed set on his truck, and advised him to have it delivered instead.
In another example, a young man had his car stolen and stripped. He eventually retrieved the vehicle, but his fancy styled wheels had been stolen. He went back to the tire shop where he purchased them with the expectation that he would be given some sort of compensation or discount because of his loss.
How is it that people believe they're entitled to compensation when the loss or damage had nothing to do with those from whom they're trying to obtain compensation? It just doesn't make sense, but it shows clearly that they believe it's not all their own fault and somehow the cost should be shouldered by others. Clearly that's a belief in being entitled.
Inheritance is probably the most common personal entitlement belief. It's also a very emotional issue to tackle because it's fraught with lots of expectations that are based on personal relationships. Here are examples of some of our beliefs about the estate of another:
- I deserve an equal share because I was his _____________ (insert the title of a family member here.)
- I'll be in their will because I helped them more than their own family.
- We'd been best friends for many years, and he had no other family.
- It should be lots of money, because grandmother was loaded.
The problem with this is the individual with the assets decides, not you, so your expectations need to be tempered by that. Deciding where your estate goes is tricky because you might think about:
- The worthiness of an individual.
- Specific needs of a family member or friend.
- How to make your assets continue to build wealth for others.
- Ways to create an enduring legacy through donations or assignment of assets.
- Revenge upon one individual or another.
It's tricky, whether you're on the giving or receiving end. The bottom line is it's a personal decision, and not everyone makes great decisions. You have to respect the wishes of the departed, and you might enjoy being a casual observer to see what people do before someone passes away, and their reaction after learning of their inheritance (or lack thereof). It's a lesson in their belief about their own entitlement.
Government assistance is a common assumption when it comes to having the idea that we're entitled. It's very common for people to think this way because generations have been making use of government assistance. When you think about it, it's become the norm for so long, it's almost unthinkable to ask for this to stop.
I know I'll take heat for this, but we need to be honest with ourselves and recognize that taxes pay for public assistance, and taxes are legalized theft of wealth from productive people to be given to those who are non-productive or otherwise looking to get their "piece of the pie." I'm not saying that we shouldn't help others in need, but we're certainly not entitled to take part in a program of theft of wealth from others to help ourselves to the fruit of someone else's labor. We're entitled to ask for assistance (from friends, family, neighbors and community), but it shouldn't be something that's expected of our "limited" government.
What are We Entitled To?
There are very few things that we're entitled to. I see them to include respect, fair treatment, freedom, and asking for help. No doubt, some of these are in short supply in many aspects of our lives. Nevertheless, let's look at them to see why they're something we're entitled to.
Respect is something that can be earned, no doubt, but we are all entitled to basic respect as a fellow human being and citizen of the world. We also owe ourselves some self-respect. It's something we have a perfect right to demand of others. All bets are off when we show others that we aren't worthy of their respect. Respect for us rightfully diminishes when we're devious, evil, deceitful, lazy or otherwise show that we can't be trusted.
Fair treatment is the underlying idea behind justice. It's quite like getting what we deserve - a fair shake. It's one of the reasons why we have a system of justice and other standards by which we operate. Our systems and standards are certainly not without flaw, but the idea is that they help level the playing field so we can live without fear of mistreatment. In many cases, we must demand justice, and when we do, usually no one is wondering why - we're entitled to it.
Freedom is synonymous with liberty. It's your ability to do what you choose to do as long as you treat others fairly and have respect for your fellow citizen. Our freedom is key to our success as individuals. If we're enslaved by others, or our own negative beliefs, then we're doomed to live our lives based on what others think is right for us, and that seldom results in any level of achievement. Like respect and justice, we often have to demand freedom in order to maintain it for ourselves.
Asking for help is something we're entitled to. It's reasonable to expect that one might ask for help from within their "own circle" when they truly need help. We might even go out and ask for help from others. We're certainly entitled to ask for help, but don't think for a minute that means we're going to get help.
There are people like me who believe that only the worthy, not just the squeaky wheel, deserve our help. This also means that we're not entitled to having others help us in exactly the way that we want. Remember, beggars can't be choosers.
I know of an individual who needs help, like no one else I know, but simply won't seriously try to help themselves. Instead, this individual is looking for others to be a rescuer - that's exactly how they want to be helped. Often, when help is offered, it has to be in exactly the manner, amount and timing that the individual requests. Otherwise, there is always an excuse why the help isn't what they need.
So, let's be mindful that we all have a tendency to believe that we're entitled to something in our life. We just need to temper that expectation with a bit of reality, otherwise, we'll fall prey to the idea that instead of doing for ourselves, others should be doing for us. And, there are plenty of people who are willing to do for us in exchange for them becoming our "leader" and that means we follow their lead, and quite often their lead is only in their best interest, not that of our own.
At every opportunity, trade in your feelings of being owed something for feelings of empowerment and personal responsibility. Create your own future of financial success instead of letting others convince you that you're entitled to what they say should be your level of success.
Done with Entitled, back to Critical Success Factors