Unlearning entitlement mentality

red apple fruit on four pyle books

Learning is simply what we do through life. As Jeff Cobb once defined it, it is the lifelong process, both conscious and unconscious, of transforming information and experience into knowledge, skills, behaviours and attitudes. It is different from education because it is not dependent on classes and courses, certificates and degrees, time and space; it only requires readiness and availability.

While learning is very important, unlearning is not less significant. As a process of discarding something from memory or abandoning an attitude, the role of unlearning in shaping individuals and developing character has made it gain the status of the new learning. This is because during the process of consciously, subconsciously and unconsciously learning from the society, one picks certain beliefs, impressions and attitudes that are like viruses to the body.

One of those viruses afflicting students especially and people in general is entitlement mentality. It is the belief or attitude that one is inherently deserving of certain privileges, benefits, or treatment without having to work for or earn them. This mindset makes the concerned individuals to feel that they are entitled, by virtue of whoever they consider themselves to be, to success, privileges, wealth, favour, money, special treatment or position. The entitled person pays no attention to effort or merit, justice or reason, situations or even other people, all what he is concerned about is having it.

Entitlement mentality may be subconsciously or unconsciously learnt but it has to be consciously unlearnt. Without unlearning it, the entitled person is prone to a life of sadness and misery because there is always a person to blame for not having what he thinks he deserves. As a matter of fact, the problems that will assail him include unrealistic expectations, lack of motivation,  disappointment, frustration, resentment for others, lack of trust, poor work ethics, lack of fulfillment, limited personal growth, ingratitude, toxicity and social alienation. He will always have someone to blame for what he lacks or misses instead of looking at the mirror, fixing himself and taking charge of his destiny.

The first thing to know, as a process of unlearning or overcoming entitlement mentality, is that nobody owes you anything. It is not the responsibility of anyone to make you happy or meet your needs. That is solely your responsibility as every other person is busy fixing their own lives. You have to separate rights from privileges and know that while rights can be demanded, privileges cannot be. Even demanding your rights also requires tact and wisdom because whoever is superior to you can deny or even destroy you despite the fact that you are right.

Though everyone has a modicum of entitlement mentality, the fundamental truth is that it shouldn’t be your dominant mental attitude. Your first battleground is your mind and you must ensure you remain  positive while holding yourself accountable, not someone else. The foremost scientist, Ibn Sina, more commonly known Avincena, said, “The power of thoughts can cause you either illness or recovery.” You are essentially what you think and it is wrong to think or feel entitled all the time.

The word “invictus” is a Latin word meaning “unconquerable” or “undefeated” and you shouldn’t allow your thoughts to defeat you. In his poem, “Invictus”, William Earnest Henley wrote, “I am the captain of my ship/ I am the master of my fate.” This means that whatever happens to you and me is a direct result of our choices and actions. It may also be a stroke of destiny and no one can blame the Almighty God on whatever He allows to happen based on his divine wisdom.

Therefore, unlearning entitlement mentality requires abandoning the previous learning and embracing self-awareness. This entails that when the mentality surfaces in your thought or behaviour, you know it by not accepting that you deserve anything beyond what you have earned. You should challenge your entitled beliefs by seeking alternatives of hard work, effort and merit in achieving your goals.

Furthermore, you should cultivate a sense of gratitude at all times by focusing on what you have rather than what you feel entitled to. It is the attitude of gratitude that lifts one to the altitude Regularly express appreciation for the opportunities, support, and blessings in your life. You should also set realistic expectations, take responsibility for your actions and be empathetic by considering the feelings, needs and perspectives of others, not yours only, because the world is not just about you.

Unlearning and overcoming entitlement mentality requires introspection, effort, and a commitment to personal growth and self-improvement. By practising self-awareness, gratitude, empathy, humility, and developing a sense of service and responsibility, you can gradually shift your mindset from entitlement to a more balanced outlook on life.