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Episode 221: Dealing With Entitled People


And hello to you, and welcome to the Richard Nicholls podcast, the personal development podcast series that's here to help inspire, educate, and motivate you to be the best you can be. I'm psychotherapist Richard Nicholls, and this episode is titled Dealing With Entitled People. And if you are ready, we'll start the show.

Happy New Year you beauties. It's 2023. Are you fed up with all the adverts for summer holidays yet? I literally had emails on Christmas Eve telling me to book my holiday before everyone else takes the spaces. And I get it, it's a sales technique, isn't it? Make people think that something is scarce and it encourages us to buy it now. I remember reading some research about people's desires for a wage increase. That doesn't sound like a bad idea, does it? But when you survey people's values and choices, you actually find that people prefer to have less of an increase if it meant that someone else wouldn't. Give people a fictitious scenario of everyone gets a large increase or only you get a small increase, and more people choose the smaller increase because it means that they're getting something the others don't. Very odd. But humans can feel entitled sometimes, can't we? A bit like going Christmas shopping and being surprised that it's busy because everyone else is doing the same.

It makes no sense to be angry that when you go shopping there are also other people shopping. But sometimes we do. We think How dare all these people want to buy things at the same time as I do? It might only pop into our mind for a moment, and it might not always be a conscious thought. It might just be a feeling, an emotion, a frustration. That's entitlement.

If you want to buy a pack of 20 toilet rolls, even though you only really need six, you criticize other people then, for stockpiling like we did back in 2020, I heard lots of stories like that. Then those a double standards and because you see yourself as more entitled than other people. It feels okay.

It's a bit like taking the day off to go to Alton Towers. I live in the Midlands, so Alton Towers is the theme park of choice when you want something a bit more grown up than Drayton Manor Park and Zoo in Tamworth. So you'll get a load of mates who book the day off work in advance, and you plan to go together.

And then when you get there, there'll be somebody in the group who gets angry at still having to queue to get on a ride, and they're like But it's Wednesday, why aren't all these people at work? Because they booked the day off, Dave, just like you did, that's why. Those are the double standards that sometimes we do need to look out for in ourselves so that we're not surprised if we upset people and lose friends.

And if you have people in your life like this, but you don't want to walk away from them, you just want to be able to tolerate them, that's not going to be that easy. You might have to accept that some people don't see their attitude as a problem and they aren't willing to change. Like I so often say, nothing's a problem unless it causes problems.

But what do we do if someone is consistently taking advantage of us because they feel entitled to. The answer is fairly obvious, it's just hard. I would say the answer is simply to not give in to them. Like being a parent. If you're gonna change your mind over something when you've already said no, then you'd better pretty sure make sure there's a good reason for changing your mind and that the kid understands it. Otherwise, the lesson they learn is everyone gives into my demands eventually, if I ask you enough times. Which is gonna continue to feed this sense of entitlement. Now, I will say here that a lot of entitled people don't realize that they're behaving badly. They have an external locus of control, and their worldview is that the only way to get their needs met is to change the outside world rather than change their needs. This is why it's generally best to have a more internal locus of control than an external one.

Hold your shape with those people. You want them to learn to change themselves, not try and change you, and they can learn. It just takes a bit of time. Why people create this personality trait is unique to them. Sometimes it's neglectful parenting. Sometimes it's simply inconsistent parenting.

Inconsistent meaning that if one parent said no, then they could just go to the other parent who'd give in easier. In those cases, It's a bit easier for adults to learn to be more understanding and less selfish. With a neglectful upbringing with absent carers, that can push people one way or another. One way, as I've said before, makes them look for rejection everywhere they go, and so they can become very clingy. Maybe too selfless to be healthy.

And another way is to see other people as never good enough for us and we become somewhat narcissistic. Narcissism is a personality trait and it puts you above everyone else because other people are instinctively unreliable to us. But as we develop, we do see that other people can actually be trusted sometimes, that a lot of people are good people.

And so the only way to explain why we feel we need to look down on others is because we have a grandiose sense of self a sort of Donald Trump style attitude that if we take too far, ends up pushing everyone away. Feeding the original belief that other people can't be trusted and so grows evermore this feeling that we are better than everyone and so therefore we are more deserving.

Now, narcissistic personality disorder is quite rare in comparison to just having a brother with a grand sense of entitlement, but often it can come from similar foundations and experiences, and I think it's worth acknowledging that to ourselves when having to deal with people like that. That it's not necessarily that they think highly of themselves or think badly of others.

It's a feeling thing, not a thinking thing. So, sure they feed each other. The feeling can influence the thoughts, of course, and vice versa. But personality traits are unconscious and automatic. They don't even realize that they're doing it and criticizing them for it feels unfair to them, not just because they didn't know that they were doing anything wrong, but because the issue itself gives them a feeling that they deserve praise more than other people.

Hard to accept and not easily forgivable, but with a little understanding it can make it easier to challenge them over their sense of entitlement without getting angry yourself, which hopefully keeps them more calm too, so we can live a bit more harmoniously together. So hold your shape with entitled people. Stick to your beliefs.

If this time next year you don't want to visit your sister on New Year's Day, for example, cuz she lives four hours away and you'd have had a late night, even though she expects you to drive this eight hour round trip for a buffet lunch, then tell her you're not going, it's not your fault that her expectations are different to yours.

Use your but. Not your buttock, butt. But a B U T but. It might not be easy to say it, but if you can say

Thanks for the offer, it would be lovely to see you, but.

Then you're not damaging their sense of entitlement so much that they double down on it, but you're still putting yourself first. I'd love to see you, but have already arranged something that afternoon.

I wish I could, but I just won't have the energy.

We should be able to say things like that and hold our shape, keep our sense of self. We shouldn't be bullied, manipulated, or forced into doing things we don't want to do. If there's really no benefit to it. And this is where assertiveness comes into play.

Being able to express an opposing opinion without being aggressive, being able to say,

I'd love to share the cost of your birthday weekend away, but I have a lot of outgoings at the minute. You'll have to count me out this time, but you'll be in my thoughts. I hope you have a lovely birthday.

That's not an easy thing to say, but it's doable.

I can imagine the responses now though I dunno about you. Maybe they stamp their feet and say,

But I want you there.

How do you answer that? I think it's simply,

I'm flattered. Thank you. But you'll still have a great time without me. I'm very sure.

But what about if they try to make you feel guilty? What if they say,

But without you, it'll be too expensive and I'll have to cancel it. You'll ruin my birthday.

It might be true, probably not, but hey, just say,

I wish things could be different. I haven't bought a lottery ticket for a long time. Maybe now would be a good time to do that.

That sort of thing. Now, I'm assuming that anyone who needs to hear this today, it's because they've been on the receiving end of someone's entitled attitude.

But it might be that it's you that feels this sense of entitlement, and it might be you that needs to examine your relationships and interactions with other people. It might be that you felt constantly let down by other people because you have these regular rejections from them and it hurts. It really does.

We can't ignore that. Even the slightest of rejections might hurt as much as if you've just been cheated on and dumped without any warning at all. Understand that about yourself and recognize the difference between what you are entitled to and what you are worthy of, because those are two different things.

L'Oreal have used Because you're worth it in their slogan for 50 years. Well, it started with Because I'm worth it, but the message is still the same, isn't it? That we are worthy of looking after ourselves, that we are worthy of the most expensive hair dye in the world. Which was a very brave thing to put in an advert, but it worked.

Whether it's hair dye or an honors degree or a romantic relationship. We are all worthy of these sorts of things, but are we entitled to them? No. Am I worthy of sleeping with any woman that I fancy? Yeah, but I'm not entitled to it. If I grew up feeling entitled to that, then I could have ended up being a very nasty character, but if I grew up feeling worthy of it, then I'd take more chances to ask girls out.

Unfortunately, I grew up not feeling either of those things, so I'm glad I met my wife when I did. I'm a very lucky man, but that's another story. Our worth and our entitlement are two very different things. Two athletes are both worthy of a gold medal. They are born with the same worth, the same value.

We should all be born equal, but if one works harder, trains for longer, makes greater sacrifices, goes through more pain, and even though a lot of athletic success is down to luck, to genetics, they're lucky to be born with athletic D N A and lucky to not have an injury the day before a competition. But no matter what, one of them is gonna be more entitled to the gold medal than the other one is.

But their worth is still the same, but what they're entitled to is gonna be different. And I think we all need to be aware of that. Over the last few years, we've become a very angry species to each other because so many people feel entitled to their opinions about things. And if someone disagrees, then it feels as if in rejecting our opinion, they're rejecting us.

Which shouldn't be the case. First off, it sounds harsh to say it, but we are not all entitled to an opinion about something. I'll put that out there. I am not entitled to an opinion about what you should do with your life. I am not entitled to an opinion about something I do not have enough of an understanding about.

I know very little about economics and the studies of capitalism versus Marxism and socialism. I know even less about what makes a great football player. So if someone says, what's your opinion, Richard? I can't offer one. The truth is I have to trust someone who does understand it and take their advice as long as it's an informed opinion.

Because if somebody spends 20 years of their life studying something, researching it, and writing about it, then they are entitled to an an opinion, not me. And the same applies to many things that I don't know enough about. I'll forget that I don't, and I'll offer an opinion about something, and I deserve to be criticized for that, and I need to be okay with that because that's how we learn.


Time's up for today cuz I need to record another episode now about some of the hidden effects of childhood trauma, which should be very interesting for my listeners on Patreon ready for Monday because they are entitled to it cuz they pay like 60 quid a year, which is still a bargain if you ask me, but I'm still super grateful.

So thank you. If you're a patron of mine on Patreon, have a nice few days and I'm gonna be back before you know it see ya.