Anti-Entitlement: The Psychology Behind Entitlement

Anastasija Petrovic
5 min readFeb 27, 2021

Whether it is your family, home or even your shoes, these things seem as though they have to be yours. They belong to you, so are you entitled to them?

As every other Gen-Z likes to admit, we face a different time, but we also face entitlement when other generations didn’t have the same problem. To truly understand the mindset of Anti-Entitlement for us today, let’s take a look at two very different times: 1915 and 2021.

1915: Through the Eyes of Poetry

Let’s ask ourselves an obvious question. When does war end? Logically, we would think, right after surrender, defeat or 1918? No. For most soldiers, the war rages through their minds continuously as though they are still there. The minds of the people part of the great war experience wounds reopen repeatedly and repeatedly. The poem “Mental Cases” by Wilfred Owen depicts the seeping misery imposed by the horrors of war.

“Mental Cases” is one of the most graphic war poems by Wilfred Owen, which was based on his first-hand experience at Craiglockhart Military Hospital in Scotland. The poem is highly critical of WWI and claims that many young men’s experiences in the war will go on to haunt them beyond the battlefield. Craiglockhart Military Hospital is perhaps the most famous shell-shock hospital. It was set up to deal with the epidemic of psychological casualties created in the muddy trenches of the First World War.

The speaker describes the conditions inside a war hospital in gruesome detail in order to establish the horrific physical and mental consequences of war — particularly a war as deadly as WWI. The hospital is presented as a kind of “hell,” the soldiers there so far removed from being their former selves that they don’t even seem fully human.

Mental Cases by Wilfred Owen

Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight?
Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows,
Drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish,
Baring teeth that leer like skulls’ tongues wicked?
Stroke on stroke of pain, — but what slow panic,
Gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets?
Ever from their hair and through their hand palms
Misery swelters. Surely we have perished
Sleeping, and walk hell; but who these hellish?

These were young adults as well. What entitlement meant then is different from what it means today. At this time, there was no entitlement to one’s mind, to one’s own mental health, but how can one argue that this was bad. We had to go through this torture to get to where we are with entitlement today, right?

Today: Psychology Behind Entitlement

Having a sense of entitlement is a personality trait that is based on one’s belief that they deserve the privileges or recognition for things that they did not earn. These people view the world as though it owes them something.

Many professionals have been trying to decipher the reasoning behind such a deep sense of expectation.

Why do some people believe they deserve admiration, respect, or dominance when they’ve not truly earned it? What childhood experience leads to this type of behaviour? Is it an inherited trait or a flaw in personality that is developed in response to environmental factors? — Ann-Marie Duncan

The most logical answer so far is an urge to overcompensate for past doings. Whether you have received 20 pairs of shoes and therefore feel that the 21st pair is a need for you or you weren’t selected as a starting player, this need for overcompensation drives feelings of recognizing what must be yours.

Overcoming Entitlement

To truly embody anti-entitlement, it will come down to first acknowledging how you treat those providing you with the entities you find you deserve. For example, the TKS Directors that give you insightful content.

Don’t Live In the Past

One of the hardest things for people to acknowledge is that you cannot change the past. However, you should keep a note of these mistakes to learn from them. Everyone faces difficulty, but the key thing about that fact is that you have to understand the root of the challenge. Acknowledging this changes your perception of problem-solving forever and offers a different outlook on life.

Celebrate Others

You should learn to celebrate the achievement of others even in the most challenging moments when you feel like you can’t do anything (especially if you’re trying to manage feelings of entitlement). When you’re faced with hardship, being grateful to others is a perfect way for you to see how generous you are. When you make others feel good, you won’t lose. Those people only gain happiness and appreciation. The world is not all about you.

Learn to Acknowledge

A great part about entitlement is that you don’t notice it, and others do. To truly acknowledge this sense of entitlement, you have to strip away what seems common to you. In a sense, experiment with your comfort levels in relation to things you are given or entitled to.

This week, I experimented with running without one of my prized possession, my shoes. While using the indoor track during practice, I took off my shoes and understood exactly in what place I stand, with my sense of entitlement.

Next 24 Hours: Through Your Eyes

Seeing the direct contrast between today and the psychological terrors of the muddy trenches of WW1 leads us to understand that entitlement to your mind is fragile and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Today, we see entitlement but in differentiated forms, primarily materialistic. To truly be anti-entitlement, it must come down to waking up every morning and understanding what you might feel entitled to, celebrating others and keeping the past in the past.

Now it comes down to your reader. What will you do in the next 24 hours to monitor your entitlement? Here are some action items:

  • Sleep without a blanket.
  • Take a cold shower.
  • Run without shoes.
  • Walk to work/school.
  • Write down possible factors of entitlement.

Ciao, I’m Anastasija, a 15 y/o interested in the intersection between bioinformatics and biotechnology! Check out my website, connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on Twitter!



Anastasija Petrovic

I’m Anastasija, a 17-year-old interested in the intersection between biotechnology and bioinformatics. I also write about mindsets and emerging technologies!