Anyone who appreciates living life the hard way would enjoy Dr. John Townsend’s book, The Entitlement Cure–Finding Success in Doing Hard Things the Right Way. Changing entitlement thinking involves: Recognizing Entitlement, choosing The Hard Way, suppressing the urge to Deny, Blame, Make Excuses, asking oneself Is It a Need or an Entitled Desire?, how to Help Someone, developing Motivation, exercising Discipline, taking a hard look at The Man in the Mirror, and being able to do The Next Hard Thing.
Similar to any other change initiative, steps must be taken to maintain the gains. To avoid an entitlement mentality relapse, these steps include keeping commitments, focusing on the future, having the right relationships, being able to admit when we are wrong, facing our pain, and taking risks.
When it comes to keeping commitments, entitlement mentality says it’s OK to miss an appointment with a friend if you didn’t get enough sleep. It says it’s OK to breach a contract when terms and conditions don’t work in your favor. It says you can ignore “until death do us part” when you don’t get along with someone anymore. It says we are above the law if we are late for work and need to drive faster than the posted speed limit. On the contrary, doing things The Hard Way will drive us to honor laws and commitments even when it’s inconvenient.
When we honor our commitments, we earn functional and relational trust. Functional trust is associated with reliability and dependability while relational trust is earned with a person who feels safe enough to be vulnerable. Barriers to honoring commitments and earning trust include:
- resource constraints–we make promises without the time, finances, or other means to meet them.
- perception issues–we don’t want people to think we are too uptight, so we respond to commitments nonchalantly.
- false expectations–we believe people will focus on our good intentions instead of our actions.
When we choose the Hard Way over entitlement mentality we choose not to focus only on today and ignore the future. Focusing only on the present can lead to being stuck in the same pattern of thoughts and habits. Focusing on the future can make today’s sacrifices more palatable and keep us from thinking we deserve something better without having to earn it.
To maintain a change, it’s important to be around the right people who can support it. The “right people” are those who are not afraid to confront reality. Because an entitled individual refuses to face reality and lives in a self-centered deserving world, it’s important to have trusted friends that can call out the entitled behavior in a loving way instead of ignoring it. The “right people” are those who refuse to enable. An enabler will provide financial support or pick up the slack for an entitled person because there is a misconception that this is a way to show love or compassion. The “right” person will allow the entitled individual to face the consequences of his/her decisions. The “right people” model appropriate behavior. Entitled people will be drawn to friends that support their lifestyle and, perhaps, live that way themselves. There is a natural mutual understanding. By modeling behavior that promotes the Hard Way, the “right people” will help entitled individuals see the problems associated with choosing the Easy Way.
If someone cannot see there is a problem, is there anything to fix? Sometimes we need to admit we’re wrong. We need to be honest when we don’t put forth the needed effort to earn a promotion or to earn a degree. We need to admit that we could’ve done more to save our marriage. The Easy Way says Deny, Blame, Make Excuses, but the Hard Way says to admit you’re wrong.
To initiate change, there has to be a catalyst. Something must be too uncomfortable before we admit change is necessary. The same can be true for maintaining change. The consequences of going back to the Easy Way must be more severe than the effort to pursue the Hard Way. Sometimes we can be fooled into thinking we don’t need to feel the pain of choosing the Easy Way. We can get a divorce instead of facing the pain of a damaged relationship and laying down our pride to fix it. We can take on massive debt instead of facing the pain of delayed gratification. We can use food or drugs to temporarily alleviate emotional pain. The Hard Way says to face the pain instead of trying to avoid it. This is the only way to figure out the true source of pain and do something about it.
If the goal is to remain free of entitlement thinking, there has to be some risk taking. Dr. John Townsend provides five primary benefits of risk taking:
- Risk is your only hope for “better” in anything.
- The process of risk brings out the best in you.
- Risk humbles you because it takes you to the limit of yourself.
- Risk is a great teacher.
- You feel more alive when you risk.
It’s important to distinguish the difference between meaningful risks and daredevil risks. A meaningful risk will support doing the right things the Hard Way, such as offering to work overtime or take night classes to earn a promotion at work knowing this is no guarantee that it will happen. A meaningful risk may take the form of asking someone on a date knowing there is a possibility of rejection. A meaningful risk may be investment into a new business that could provide financial independence. In contrast, daredevil risks would include using gambling as a means to gain financially. A daredevil risk may be threatening your boss that you will quit if you don’t get the raise you “deserve.” Meaningful risks are calculated while daredevil risks are impulsive.
Whether you recognize the need to change entitlement thinking in yourself or someone else, Dr. John Townsend provides practical advice and support that encourages the Hard Way. His final words on this topic will encourage you to take the next step. “So stand against entitlement in every form in which it manifests itself. Resolve your own tendencies toward the disease. Be a loving and firm force for helping those in its trap to find life and hope. And you will make the world a better place. God bless you.”
©Room2GrowGarden.com, May 26, 2018
J. Townsend, The Entitlement Cure Finding Success In Doing Hard Things The Right Way, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015. pp. 173-270.