THE END OF ENTITLEMENT

by | Apr 20, 2023

Entitlement, a term often laden with blame and shame, is a concept that permeates conversations about families and the rising generation. From parents who feel they have failed to raise their children well to financially dependent adults who feel judged as spoiled or bratty, the label of entitlement is damaging. My working definition of entitlement is: Expecting others to close the gap between what you have and what you want. It is important to recognize that entitlement is merely a manifestation of expectation. I will be pointing out the toxicity of expectations, how they damage relationships, and why having agreements offers a healthy alternative that can heal the issue of entitlement.

 

The Toxicity of Expectations

 

Expectations are often viewed as a positive force, driving us to be more productive and maintaining order in the world. Our society heavily programs us with the belief that expectations are good. However, expectations are toxic and oppressive, creating a breeding ground for conflict and dissatisfaction. When we impose expectations on others, we unknowingly ignite a natural rebellion and resistance within them, leading to feelings of inadequacy, resentment, or even anger.

 

Expectations can undermine the foundation of trust and communication within relationships. When one person expects something from another, whether in a romantic, familial, or professional context, it leaves little room for the other person’s autonomy and creativity. As a result, relationships can become strained and unfulfilling, as individuals feel bound by the constraints of someone else’s expectations.

 

The Solution: Co-Created Agreements

 

Instead of relying on expectations, we should focus on establishing co-created agreements. Agreements are formed when all parties involved have an equal say in crafting a solution that suits everyone’s reality. This approach fosters a sense of ownership and commitment, as individuals are more likely to keep their word when they have contributed to the decision-making process. In Steve Chandler’s book Crazy Good1, he states “Expectations are not necessary. Oh, yes, they are rampant. Everybody seems to have them. But they are not necessary. In fact, its actually possible to have no expectations of anyone, and to only have agreements when you need them.”

 

To replace entitlement with co-created agreements, follow these steps:

 

  1. Identify expectations. Notice any area where you are feeling resentment or frustration. Guaranteed, there is an unfulfilled expectation underlying those feelings.
  2. Foster collaboration: Make requests of each other. Be aware that a true request allows for three possible answers: yes, no, or an alternative. If you are not willing to accept all three possible answers, you are making a demand. Demands shut down the agreement process. Work together to find solutions that satisfy all parties involved. This may require flexibility, compromise, and creative problem-solving.
  3. Formalize the agreement: Clearly outline the terms of the agreement and the expectations of each party. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings. Be willing to “test the yes,”, checking for people-pleasing and power dynamics that may be leading to automatic compliance.
  4. Review and adjust: Regularly revisit the agreement and adjust as necessary. This ensures that the agreement continues to meet the needs of all parties involved and promotes growth and adaptation within the relationship.

 

Eliminating entitlement is not just about changing a term; it is about altering our mindset and approach to relationships. By reframing entitlement as an issue of expectation, we can remove the stigma and focus on building healthy connections between family members. Commit to having no expectations and living only by agreements. This will empower ourselves and our loved ones to collaborate, communicate, and thrive together. It is time to say goodbye to entitlement and welcome a future of flourishing relationships based on a shared understanding of what the future will be.

 

  1. Chandler, Steve Crazy Good: A Book of Choices (Anna Maria: Maurice Bassett Publishing, 2015), 114.
stephanie hardwick

Stephanie Hardwick

Stephanie has counseled and coached families, individuals, and leaders with wealth since 2007. She has a deep passion for helping clients navigate the unique challenges that having high net worth can bring.

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