The Entitlement Cure
In Dr. John Townsends book The Entitlement Cure (Zondervan, 2015) a non-fictional book regarding Entitlement issues; Dr. Townsend discusses three areas of entitlement – What is entitlement? What causes entitlement? What steps can we take to overcome entitlement? I will briefly discuss these views in the following paragraphs.
Dr. Townsend defines entitlement as, “The belief that a I am exempt from responsibility and I am owed special treatment.” In essence what this is saying is; I am special and I am owed something that that I have not earned or worked for and entitlement refuses to let one take responsibility for their own problems. For example when I look at my pre-recovery life, nothing was ever my fault. For me to admit that I was wrong meant I was imperfect and to be imperfect meant I was only reinforcing what my stepfather and mother constantly said to me: “Randy you’ll never mount to anything.” Therefore, everything was everybody else’s fault. While I have always worked hard and earned money, I did feel like I was owed certain things along the way. After all that had happened to me, I felt God owed me big time. Whenever I would do things for others, while it was in part out of true kindness, there was always an ulterior motive. “After all don’t you know who I am? You were lucky I was helping you.”
Where does this entitlement attitude come from? In the same way a person can be exposed to physical illness, diseases, being infected physically, this is not anything we would decide to do. In fact these are factors that we have no voice or control over. Often they are pre-disposed by factors beyond our control such as – family of origin and individual DNA to mention a few. However, a person can also be pre-disposed to the “entitlement virus” through relationship circumstances, which much like a physical virus, a person has no control over. Personally the entitlement virus that infected me was a direct result of years of abuse. It was a defense mechanism I had developed as a way to protect myself. However, I was totally unaware that it was indeed an entitlement issue. I thought it was just the way life was and if you had a problem with it, to BAD! It was only after I entered the world of recovery that I realized I had a problem with entitlement, and only through and with the help of two very loving sponsors/mentors that I was able to overcome this issue.
So then how do we overcome entitlement? The key component to change is compassion, a task that is difficult at best, especially because entitlement causes others to keep their distance, feel angry or eventually all together disassociate from that person. Townsend says, “No matter how self-involved or demanding a person is, compassion can make a difference – in fact no lasting change will occur without it.” As a child/teenager growing up my feelings were discounted and my voice was taken away from me. As a result I over compensated as an adult. As I became successful in life, I developed an attitude of entitlement. It was only when I was shown compassion and my feelings were validated that I was able to realize that the world did not revolve around me. I learned that I had to take responsibility for my own actions. I had to quit blaming my childhood for my actions as an adult. I had to learn that it was okay to make mistakes. Admitting that I made a mistake did not mean that I was a bad person. I learned that others matter just as much as me; they have feelings and concerns that are every bit as important as mine. I was taught and shown by men wiser than me that I am enough just as I am; I’m not more than or less, I’m just enough. Love, patience, understanding and compassion were the keys to my transformation.
Dr. Townsend thoroughly explains what entitlement is, what causes entitlement and what steps we can take to overcome entitlement. He challenges his readers to understand these principles and steps and to put them into practice. As we start applying these steps and principles in our own lives, we will better be equipped to help the entitled people in our lives begin their own recovery journey.