What are you entitled to?

I was having a language debate with a friend the other day (because I’m fun like that), about the correctness of using ‘entitled’ versus ‘self-entitled’ to describe someone who has a sense of, well, entitlement.

As a character descriptor, entitled is an unpleasant word, it makes me want to back away from anyone to whom it would apply. It brings to mind someone who expects to be given what they want, and feels they can take what they want, whether that thing belongs to them or not. Someone who doesn’t respect others’ boundaries or personal space, and even fails to notice that others have boundaries and personal space.

My friend would agree with that definition, just name it self-entitlement, a term I hadn’t really heard before.

It made me wonder whether self-entitlement can come to mean something else, something that puts the emphasis on self rather than entitlement. What if self-entitled stood as a counterpoint to self-erasure and referred to someone who is centered in themselves, has self-awareness and practices self-respect, and does that in concert with their responsibilities to others, not in place of their responsibilities to others.


Reprinted with Permission, FowlLanguageComics.Com


I had that conversation with a client recently, as we looked at the ways we consistently put ourselves last, and sell it to ourselves as the expected or even noble thing to do. We silence ourselves in the service of being ‘nice’, we compromise our self-care for the sake of getting work done, we ignore our instincts and intuition for fear of causing someone else discomfort.

If you agree that acting entitled is off-putting and problematic, see how far to the other extreme your personal pendulum has swung — that too will be off-putting and problematic.

Are you too self-erasing and self-effacing? Are your commitments to yourself the first things that drop off the schedule when life gets demanding? Are you too quick to acquiesce for the sake of peace rather than owning that you are entitled (there’s that word again) to your own opinion?

If so, think about being a little more self-entitled. And if you’re challenged on the meaning of that word, engage in a lively and only mildly obnoxious debate!