Reposted from Philip Patston’s blog
Last Saturday I was working with a group and the word entitlement was uttered a couple of times. As I’ve written before, I believe no one is entitled to anything. I think that a culture of entitlement is destructive and inhibits an environment of positive change.
The second time I heard the word, I raised it with the group: Entitlement is demanding, it’s self-serving and it’s disempowering. If you have a sense of entitlement, you are most likely to be left feeling let down, ripped off and disappointed.
Then someone else said this: “Perhaps we are confusing entitlement with worthiness.”
It’s that synergy of individual and group wisdom that makes me love my work.
Worthiness is the positive reframing of entitlement. You only have to say them both to feel the difference.
“I am entitled to abc.”
“I am worthy of abc.”
When I say I’m entitled to something, I give the power to you. I render myself without value. I give you responsibility for my value, because you have or control my access to what I think I am entitled to. Ironically, I also take away your value, because I blame you for what I don’t have.
It’s a worthless–worthless, lose–lose situation.
From this place, we are at gridlock. I am angry and can’t hear what you say, because if you tell me why you think I’m not entitled, I feel you devalue me more. I feel shame, and then I devalue and blame you more.
However, when I say I’m worthy of something, I hold onto my power and value. I take responsibility for myself, no matter whether you have or control access to what I think I am worthy of.
When I feel worthy, I can’t help but value you. You are no threat to me when I am worthy.
It’s a worthy-worthy, win-win situation.
From here I can tell you why I am worthy of what you have. I can hear what you say and, if you disagree with me, I am still worthy. I can see your point of view, even if I disagree with you. I may then begin to negotiate with you. Even if our negotiation fails and I leave with nothing, I am still worthy.
When I am entitled, I have a an over-stated sense of confidence that I ought to have what I want. I lack the humility to even consider why I may not, or why you think I may not.
When I am worthy, I have a sense of confidence with enough humility to accept I may not get what I want or that you have a reason to deny me. I have, what Françoise Simpere would call, a balanced ego.
A sense of entitlement means I operate from a space of deficit, fear of loss and anger. I enter relationships with a demand that someone gives me what I want. If the demand is refused, I blame and leave angry, feeling less valued.
A sense of worthiness allows me to interact in the spirit of generosity. I come into a situation with an offer of myself, of my value. If that offer is refused, I can leave graciously, sadly even, that someone has missed out on the benefit of my presence or value.
Entitlement is the beginning of a process of awareness that I haven’t had what I want or need. It is a motivation to discover that I am worthy of more. However it is a blunt and sometimes ugly tool to effect change, one that causes conflict, violence, war and death.
Worthiness is the art of showing the benefit and value I possess. It is a sophisticated, intuitive dance of generosity, offers and gifts that creates meaningful, lasting change.