You’re not Special!

An Article on the dangers of entitlement.

When I hear the word entitlement, I immediately think of some spoiled narcissist who thinks the world revolves around them.  It seems to conjure up a pretty “off-putting” image for me.

It recently came to my attention that there are 2 types of entitled people.

  1.  The standard spoiled, self-absorbed person, that most of us connect with the word entitlement.
  2. An individual who feels they have been “dealt an unfair hand” in life.  This leads to a victim view point, and people that perceive themselves as victims often feel entitled to things.

Thinking that you are the best or thinking that you are the worst are both very dangerous (and unhealthy) thinking.  Both of these individuals begin to believe that the regular laws of the universe don’t apply to them.  Both types feel like they don’t have to play by the normal rules.  Both the victim and the narcissist rationalize bad behavior.

A narcissist feels that they are so much smarter, better looking, richer, stronger, and that they deserve special treatment.  While the victim feels like life is so unfair that they let themselves off the hook for their responsibilities.

In recovery, we learn to accept full responsibility for ourselves.  The more we do this, the more in control we feel which ultimately results in feeling more satisfied with life.

Some of you reading this might be thinking “but what if a person truly is the victim of something really bad?”

It’s important to understand the difference in “fault” and “responsible”.

Here are examples:

  1. It may not be your fault that you are an alcoholic (maybe everyone in your family is an alcoholic and you just got bad genes), but you are responsible for doing something about it.  Walking around thinking “I can’t help it, I’m just destined to be an alcoholic isn’t gonna cut it! In fact, it’s just a way of rationalizing not taking responsibility for the problem.
  2. It’s not your fault if your spouse, injured in a freak accident, becomes disabled, but you are responsible for helping and supporting them. (remember the whole “in sickness and health” vow?)
  3. It’s not your fault if the company you worked for went bankrupt and you lost your job, but it is your responsibility to get back out there and find another job.

It’s okay to have empathy for yourself, but if you get stuck in self-pity and blame, you aren’t doing yourself any favors.  It may make you temporarily feel better to “lick your wounds” for a short time, but it will ultimately lead you to make more bad decisions (for which you will likely feel sorry for yourself about).  It’s a vicious cycle.

People that see themselves as victims often get so stuck in self-pity that they don’t hold themselves accountable for their activities of daily living, and ultimately hurt themselves and their loved ones even more.

In my work with addicts and alcoholics, I often hear them ask “why me?”.  But the real question is “why not me?”. We all have our limitations… Many people are born with very severe handicaps and disabilities.  Getting stuck feeling sorry for ourselves because we can’t socially drink “like everybody else” will only trigger you to want to drink.

Maybe an even better question would be “why am I the one who gets a chance at recovery”?  Other (not so lucky) people end up in jail, on the streets, or suffering in silence.  Statistics show that only about 10% of people who need help for addiction/alcoholism get the help.

Many of the young people we see at Hope For Families struggle with sobriety because they feel entitled to have the “normal teen/college experiences”.  For example, they often feel like they deserve to  party all night for prom “because that’s what everyone else gets to do”.

12 step programs have a way of teaching people that they are 100% responsible for themselves.  That’s why people in recovery are my favorite people.  They have more insight and maturity than most! Individuals in recovery come out of the program with way more humility and better self-esteem.  They no longer need to escape their problems.  They learn that they are competent, worthy, people who can solve whatever problems life throws their way.