Be grateful, not entitled.

Entitlement. Feeling worthy. I think of both ideas often. Of course we all (admit it, you do) judge others when we look at choices they make and think “well, they sure act entitled.” Maybe they are and should feel that way. We most likely judge because we think maybe we are not worthy of what they received. “Why did they get so lucky? How did I not?” Assumptions are made by many that someone is or is not deserving of getting things, especially if they think they did not have to work for them.

Just like my dad used to always tell me: “Money does not grow on trees.” He was right, and I think the same about entitlement. Most things in life are not easy. Most things require work. Often we see people take the easy way out, and then take credit for it. You know it has happened to you. A colleague I worked with a few years ago mentioned a project he worked on recently with another individual — she did nothing to help him on the project and took all the credit. What made her do that? Did she feel entitled to do so?

Seth Godin recently posted a blog on entitlement and worthiness that resonated with me. I love this idea:

“When you receive something you feel entitled to, something expected, that you believe you’ve earned, it’s not worth much. And when you don’t receive it, you’re furious. After all, it’s yours. Already yours. And you didn’t get it. Whether you’re wearing a hobo costume or showing up as a surgeon after years of medical school, entitlement guarantees that you won’t get what you need.”

He has a good point. We need to do work that we care about and feel worthy regardless of whether we get what we expect and regardless of whether others get what we think is everything without having to work for it. And…you know what? Sometimes life is not fair.

I want to teach my son that you have to work for things in life. When they are given to you, be grateful, but not entitled. Know when something is earned from your hard work and when something is handed to you. Do not take anything for granted.

Being grateful

I woke up at 4:45 am Sunday morning and could not sleep or get comfortable. I thought about just getting up. Instead the thought that came to me was to just lay there and be grateful. A long list of things came into my thought and eventually I fell back asleep. I woke up an hour or so later, not able to sleep and still uncomfortable. So I did the same thing.

I have had pivotal moments in my life when I have woken in the middle of the night and could not get back to sleep with very strong thoughts about another person in my life. Whether I had an intuition that something was not right in the world, or a moment of pause about a specific individual. Early on when I would have these pitch-black-middle-of-the-night intuitions, well they freaked me out. Over time I learned to stop, be quiet, and listen. Depending on how coherent I am I might lay there and pray, or think about how I can support and think good thoughts for the world situation or individual that woke me from sleep.

Waking in the wee hours of Sunday morning was not about a person, but it was a full body reminder for me. Why did I have to lay in bed unwilling to get out of my cozy bed to take moments to be grateful for my amazing husband, family, friends, colleagues, home, work, etc? The list went on in my head. Even to specific worldly pleasures, such as my new favorite sheets that I was laying between. That utter euphoria I felt for all the goodness in my life (does not mean it was perfect) reminded me to take more moments in the day to acknowledge that goodness. Why not before I fall asleep at night? Or at least on those nights when I do not fall asleep the instant my head hits the pillow… Who am I kidding? That never happens to me.

This is a reminder for you and for me. Be grateful. Keep it inside or let it ooze out and tell those that you are feeling gratitude for them. Snuggle in your bed and appreciate the sheets that have you smitten. Watch the video of your niece laughing over and over again. Forget the struggles that you have for a few moments and just be head over heels grateful for all the good in your life.

Setting boundaries

Boundaries. Some of us are good at setting them and others are not. I ebb and flow in my stance on boundaries. It depends on the situation and it depends on who else is involved. What I do know is that each and every situation I am in creates the moment to decide how I am going to handle my own boundaries. There are different levels of boundaries we must monitor on a day-to-day basis.

Maybe we have a family member that asks too much of us and we always say yes, or maybe it is how they treat us, thinking that there is only one way or one answer to a problem. It could be that they completely disregard our thoughts and opinions and think about what they want, or what they think we should do with our life, never understanding that we have to make our own decisions. A friend might take too much from us in an unbalanced way. A child that has us wrapped around their finger. A boss that does not allow no for an answer.

All of these can be challenging situations depending on who is on the other end of the conversation. Often I think that others do not know how their demands on us affect us. They expect others to have their own filters, to be able to say no when they hit their limit. That is unrealistic though. Love, guilt, compassion, and never learning to say no have a strong hold on us. Often we do not want to disappoint those we love, so we say yes, we move forward with no boundaries and suffer the consequences. Whether that means we allow too much on our plate, we get burned out, or we find that we become resentful.

Speaking up for what you want and what you are willing to do means you create the life that feels right to you. Even if that means upsetting an in-law, sibling, friend, or co-worker. You are only you if you speak up for what you need. That might mean saying no. It might mean saying yes — but with specific limits. At the very least take time to listen to your inner voice and decide what you truly want. Then you can battle the naysayers in your mind, speak up for yourself, and ultimately create the boundaries you need. Definitely not easy, but doable?

Listen More, Talk Less: Part Deux

How often do you formulate what you are going to say while someone else is talking? How often do you truly listen to what the other individual is saying to you? How often do you check out, get bored, or have too many other things going on in your brain? I am definitely known to have way to much going on in my brain, to the extent that sometimes the words that come out of my mouth sound like babble and do not make sense to others. Maybe it is information overload.

We all could listen more, but we can also talk less. They go hand in hand. It makes me ask the questions: “Do you listen to get to the next part of your day, do you truly care when listening, and do you talk to talk and be heard, or because you have something to say? Sometimes I think that some people talk to fill the open space. They are uncomfortable with silence, and quiet moments, so they do what they can to fill that silence, to fill that space. However awkward it might be, for them and everyone else.

Here is a thought (not grand, or new, or cutting edge). What if you listen more? Truly and intensely listen. Ask questions. Explore if you truly understand what someone else is saying and take the focus off you. Hard? Yes. Worth it? Yes. I care about each individual I interact with and I want them to feel that care. I genuinely want to listen, and I want others to give me the same respect and focus. Is that so hard? Are we asking each other to do too much? Hell no. We just need to get rid of our brainless distractions and “be” with another. Listen, go deep, be present, and get rid of mindless chatter, pointless conversation, and focus on what really matters.

I am going to make it a focus to keep working on how I listen. Let my mind slow down from all the elements of multitasking, breathe, and be in the moment where I truly focus on the other individual and give them my time.

Will you join me?

Want to read, List More, Talk Less (Part One)?