The Dangerous Illusion of Entitlement- Insights From The Wilderness (#284)

It’s hard for many of us to accept, but life does not come with a checklist of guaranteed entitlements… ust because we want something.

For example, we are not entitled to freedom. We are not entitled to health care. We are not entitled to a living wage. We are not entitled to be successful simply because we worked hard. We are not entitled to an education. We are not entitled to live a happy life. We are not entitled to a happy marriage. We are not entitled to financial wealth. We are not entitled to good health. Stated simply… we are not entitled to anything in life… just because we want it.

Entitlement Is A Dangerous Illusion.

Entitlement is a dangerous illusion that shuts down our ability to take responsibility… for the choices we make in life and the inevitable consequences of those choices. Entitlement is a narcissistic self-focus that too often blinds us to the reality that every choice we make, and every choice we fail to make, will always yield a consequence. Our self-focused feelings of entitlement encourage us towards anger and the blaming of others when we don’t get what we feel we are entitled to in life… simply because we want it.

Success In Life Requires Hard Work And Discipline

We are not entitled to a life of success. We are not entitled to a life of happiness. Success in life will require hard work and discipline. Happiness in life will depend primarily on our ability to manifest the intimacy of compassion, kindness, and care toward others. Feelings of entitlement can blind us to the reality that both success and happiness in life are intentional choices we need to make.

This is also true whether we are talking about our next breath or our next glass of clean drinking water. Neither of those realities are wants that we are entitled to experience in life. Our next breath or drink of clean water will depend on whether we are willing to work for clean air and clean water. Because we have the power to pollute our air and our drinking water, both will require the intentional choices and willingness to work for clean air and water.

The Primary Danger Of  Entitlement

But the primary danger that comes with our self-focused sense of entitlement… is the fact that it tends to create walls of envy between us and others. When we don’t get what we feel we are entitled to, we tend to blame others. As a result, entitlement has the power to contaminate our relationships and shut down intimacy with those around us. A self-focused sense of entitlement almost always leads to loneliness, unhappiness, and a sense of powerless in our lives; just another way of “pushing the river” and avoiding reality.

But the most dangerous consequence of entitlement is its power to shut down gratitude for those things that we do have. Entitlement is too often responsible for shutting down our ability to focus with appreciation and gratitude for life’s simple pleasures… and the gifts we are surrounded by each day. We are not grateful because we are happy with life. We’re happy with life because we are grateful for what we already have.


The gifts that life offers us in abundance are unlimited potential and infinite possibility. The potential and possibility of success… if we are willing to do the work required to achieve our dreams. Every choice we make in life comes with the gifts of possibility and potential.

The tendency to self-focus on our wants, and the feelings of entitlement that result from that self-focus, tend to limit our ability to choose a life of gratitude… and experience the gifts of happiness that gratitude creates with others… and the world around us.

A sense of entitlement blinds us to what is possible. It limits our ability to experience happiness in life, and it will all but shut down our ability to experience the fullness of life that comes when we choose to be grateful for the gifts that life offers us every day.


So the next time we feel angry or upset because we didn’t get what we felt we were entitled too… take a deep breath and choose to be grateful for what we already have. If we make gratitude our primary spiritual practice and focus in life… we will quickly discover the joys and happiness already present in our life… joys and happiness only experienced when we choose to focus on gratitude for what we already have.

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