The Myth of Entitlement

by Erich

entitlement There is a pervasive sore that has slowly spread in American culture within the past few decades which I believe is leading to the downfall of this once great nation. What I’m referring to is an undeserved sense of entitlement.

Many of us think we are entitled to a job, a bail out, health care, or a home that we can’t afford — not because of anything that we’ve done but because we feel it is our “right” to have it. And when problems come our way and we achieve less than this, we immediately begin to blame our parents, teachers, bosses, government, or God for this apparent injustice. We never want to fully face the real source of our problems – which is ourselves.

It’s not until we drop this sense of entitlement and take upon ourselves 100% responsibility for the outcome of our lives, that we will ever see the success we want as individuals and as a nation.

Two Choices

Jack Canfield, author of the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series, taught a seemingly simple but very important formula that illustrates this idea of 100% responsibility. The formula goes like this:

E + R = O (Event plus Response equals Outcome)

Breaking this formula down, it basically means that your success or failure, your health or lack thereof, the measure of your relationships, how you handle a survival situation and basically every outcome of your life, is a direct result of how you have responded to the events that have happened to you.

Looking at this equation, you can see that you have two choices:

Choice #1: You can blame the events for your situation in life

When failure or disaster comes your way, you can blame the weather, blame your boss, blame your parents, blame society, blame the economy, blame your lack of resources, or blame the government for your failures, but it’s not your environment or any external factor for that matter that limits you – it is your response to that event!

Blaming the events takes the focus away from you (the Response) and sets it upon what’s not in your control (the Event). When you avoid taking 100% responsibility for your outcomes, you remove yourself from the equation and rewrite it as: Event = Outcome. You are thereby left with a convenient scapegoat for your problems. But with this faulty equation, you are only limiting yourself. These limiting thoughts and beliefs become roadblocks to your pathways to success, survival, or whatever outcome you desire.

It’s been said before that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you continue to engage in unhealthy eating habits, smoke and drink, waste time in front of the television, fail to build your relationships, not become prepared with food storage and survival skills, spend more than you earn, and then wonder why your life has turned out the way it has, you are following this recipe to insanity.

Unfortunately, this is the recipe that most people end up embracing. They achieve less than optimal outcomes in their lives and then they begin to point the finger beyond themselves exclaiming that they should be entitled to all those benefits without putting a nickel of effort in themselves. This is the easy way out. If you want to be average, choose #1, otherwise here’s another option:

Choice #2: You can simply change your responses to the events until you get the outcome you desire

Looking again at that equation, we see that we have no control over the events of our lives. The one variable that we do have complete control over, is our response to those events or stimuli.

The animal kingdom is dictated by stimulus and response. When a certain event happens in their life, they respond in an instinctual way. There is no forethought as to how they will respond, they just respond. We are unique from other creatures in the ability that we have to choose our response to a stimulus. This is exclusively a human endowment. In other words, we have free agency.

The bottom-line is that you are the one who has created your outcomes. If you’re not satisfied with how your life has turned out, then take a look at your past and realize that all your thoughts, words, and actions have resulted in your current situation. You may not be responsible for the events that happen in your life, or the environment in which you’ve been placed, but realize this one powerful fact – you are responsible for how you react.

If you want to be more successful, then respond in ways that produce more success. If you want a better relationship, then respond in ways that create better relationships. If you fear economic or natural disaster, then pull up your bootstraps and start preparing. If it’s health and fitness that you want, then know that it is your response to what foods are available to you and what day-to-day choices you make regarding exercise that determine your ultimate health.

It may sound simple. Well, that’s because it is. But remember, simple isn’t always necessarily easy. But I promise you that once you make this mental shift, you will be amazed at what the gift of free agency can bring you. Self-reliance is not an entitlement, it is a choice.

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Comment by irontomflint
2009-09-29 10:39:09

Thank you for putting into words what so many of us feel.

Comment by Erich
2009-09-29 11:09:13

You’re very welcome Tom. I do see hope in that a lot of people are beginning to “wake up” so to speak.

Comment by Larry Miller
2010-03-13 17:08:48

Unfortunately the E + R = O is something that too many have learned to read as:
E = want something
R = look to government to supply
O = vote for someone who will take from those who have and “redistribute it”

The only answer then is to eliminate that choice, but, being a compassionate society, we have not been willing to do this… so then by trying to help, we make things worse and get in even deeper.

Tough love is admired in parenting. Perhaps the ponytailed poster boy for this was the guy to asked Bill Clinton the question about what he would do as our figurative parent during the debate with Bush I at Richmond. The answer should have been tough love!

Comment by Erich
2010-03-14 09:19:57

Amen brother,

That’s a perfect analogy. Thanks for the comments.

Comment by phoenixbyrd
2011-12-24 12:03:39

The real myth of entitlement is that EVERYONE is guilty of it. From the elite rich to the poor lower class. What we are entitled to is a right to life, food, shelter, potable water, heat. The basic necessities of life. Unfortunately society frowns upon those who don’t PAY others for exercising that right to life. The answer is simple, they feel entitled to make you pay them because they own the land, they set the rules of what your allowed to do and what you are not allowed to do, they feel entitled to own the planet and all it’s resources which for thousands of years was a resource own by anyone who could freely make use of.

The problem with entitlement is our elite feel entitled to make us PAY them for what is now no longer a right, but a privilege in their eyes, for the right to life.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2011-12-28 12:03:37

Well said phoenix…

Comment by phoenixbyrd
2011-12-24 12:54:25

If we want to fix thing’s, then we need to get out of this mindset that the very thing’s we require for life is a commodity owned by only those who have the money to pay for it. I fear one day they’ll figure out a way to make us pay for the very air we breath after industrialism has polluted our atmosphere! It’s now becoming illegal to capture rainwater, clean and safe drinking water, we are forced to pay for dirty water piped into our homes. We can’t even grow our own food and give it to others without fear of the USDA, just watched a video about these people who had a public gathering of freshly picked/slaughtered food from their farm, feeding meals prepared on site to friends, family and the public who visited the farm. Health dept. came down and forced them to stop and pour BLEACH onto the food so they couldn’t feed it to even their livestock.

See, the problem isn’t assistance programs, nor people who are in a rut and end up on these programs, it’s our laws that demand people to pay others for the right to life. The tyranny, oppression and slavery needs to end. People shouldn’t own other people and I’m sorry, but slavery is still a very big part of our modern civilization, the only difference is, we keep our slaves stupid with public education and quiet with assistance programs. The elite still need a lower class underpaid group of people making just a bare scratch in the dirt to do the hard labor jobs for them.

You want to see real entitlement issues, look to those who have money, not to those who don’t have it and end up on assistance. The ignorance of complaining about those on assistance needs to stop. People don’t always end up on assistance because they’re lazy.

Comment by Tactical Intelligence
2011-12-28 12:19:26

Again some great comments here phoenix.

I agree that a resource-based economy would be a better solution, however I don’t feel we are there yet. Until there is a general mindset shift toward that direction (either through enlightenment or through necessity), we will forever be in this commodity-based society. Although I agree that the “powers that be” are the ultimate cause, it still doesn’t excuse the”slaves” from taking ownership of their own lives (and I’m not talking about those who are receiving aid out of necessity here). Free will and the ability to choose how we respond to our individual circumstances is an innate gift given to all humans.

Comment by TBD
2012-12-06 19:06:05

While I agree that we are all responsible for our own lives, we mustn’t forget compassion. We need to remember that there are those people who don’t have the ability to (always) control their response to situations. For example, the mentally ill and developmentally disabled. You see, the problem with this article is that it assumes that Everyone can control their response when some people can not.

Comment by Jill
2013-01-13 01:34:31

Larry, love your interpretation of E + R = O and I totally agree with you!
However, I disagree that politicians (especially politicians that “pretend” to want to help the poor, such as the dems). By “helping” – providing handouts – politicians do this “All for a Vote”…… the long run – they are enabling these people to Merely exist, all dreams and ambitions are gone – once the poor signs up for disability (they are healthy), welfare and food stamps…….I worked in hospitals for 22 years + and witnessed my fair share of people that are depressed and oppressed – since they are merely existing and collecting a gov’t check for doing nothing, not making a difference in society – no impact.

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