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Do you feel entitled or thankful?

A sense of entitlement is the feeling or belief that you deserve to be given something (such as special privileges). It is evident in the work environment, schools, athletic teams, churches, clubs, etc. It borders on a narcissistic trait and can be designated as a complex or disorder. It is often passed down in families from parents or grandparents to children and grandchildren. The basis can be age, gender, tenure, status, family connections and on and on.

It starts out with young people who often feel they have a “right” to be awarded certain privileges without earning or deserving them. It is evident in sporting events with kids as young as Little League Baseball, elementary and junior varsity teams where the parents are so biased to their family members they can’t or don’t want to see things as the coach, head of the organization, manager, etc. sees them to determine playing time, starting teams, etc. Parents pass this attitude down to their children who in turn demonstrate their feelings that they have been mistreated when that is not the case at all. Coaches are paid to win games. They play the players whom they think are the best, so they can chalk up victories. This is what they are paid for and often necessary to keep their jobs.

In business, people who have been on the job for many years are resentful when newer, younger people are selected for positions, tapped for special projects or receive promotions. Decisions are made based on talent, abilities, commitment, determination, loyalty, teamwork and above all exceptional “can do” winning attitudes. You would hope when a person is promoted that their co-workers are happy for them, but so often jealousy abounds and resentment occurs. I have told many people selected for promotions that if you expect anyone other than your immediate family to be happy for you, that you will oftentimes be very disappointed. It’s the old adage that people will surround you when you experience loss or tragedy, but when you have something good to happen, like a promotion, “friends” are nowhere to be found. In fact, they will often talk about you, tell others that you are not deserving and make other derogatory comments with the misconception that this action will make them look good if they can make you look bad. Inferiority complexes show when things like this happen.

The traits of entitlement include the following:

1. “Me, Me, Me” or “My spouse, child or grandchild always first”

2. Making unrealistic demands

3. Self-pity when things don’t work out your way

4. You are called a bully, manipulative or egotistical

5. Feeling that you deserve happiness and success

6. You punish people who don’t do what you want

7. You see others as competition or a threat

8. You have double-standards, OK for you but not others

9. You take more from others than you give

10. You always look out for “No. 1,” first and foremost

11. You have a difficult time negotiating or compromising

12. You believe your opinions are always right

13. You believe you should come first even at expense of others

14. People are often offended or upset at what you say

15. You think you are better or more important than other people

16. You have deep desire to be admired or adored

17. You enjoy asserting dominance or superiority over others

If you possess some of the traits listed above you may need a hard, introspective look at yourself. Some people have personality disorders or are narcissistic. These people are not fun to be around. They often make fools of themselves and don’t even know it. Some have no sense of scruples and have no shame. Professional help is in order. People who are negative frequently don’t realize it and have behaved in this unacceptable way for so long that it has become a way of life.

There are ways to improve your attitude and relationships if you have a strong enough desire to change. First you must develop self-awareness and realize how others see you. The desire to make a positive change has to come first.

The opposite of feeling entitled is a feeling of thankfulness for what you have. This covers not just material possessions but friends, a job, good health, family, opportunities, etc. Several things to be thankful for at work include:

1. The problems that create your job

2. Your co-workers and colleagues

3. Your boss or manager

4. Customers

5. Competitors

If you make a list of the issues or problems you face in your workplace and then itemize all the things you have to be thankful for, oftentimes you will discover that there is much more to be grateful for than to complain about. It gets down to attitude. How often do you express thanks to others , but most of all to God?

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34

Commit to showing gratitude and thanks to others every day, not just on Thanksgiving. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.