Entitlement vs. Empowerment

Written by Christy Whitman March 18, 2013

A couple weeks ago, I was at a dinner party and started chatting with Lil. Lil is a warm, outgoing woman with an awesome sense of humor, and I liked her from the start. We talked about relationships, sex (of course! :)) and the art of balancing career and family. When Lil asked me about what I do, I explained that I teach people of all ages – even young children – how to become more empowered to create everything they want in their lives. Lil looked at me with a sort of blank expression on her face, as though my words had not made sense. I asked her what she was thinking, and – in her animated, fabulous way – she launched into the following rant:

“Let me tell you something, Christy,” she began. “I have three kids, ages 4, 6, and 9, and they have NO issues whatsoever, with being empowered! They are brilliant when it comes to ‘creating’ just about anything they want, and in fact, my husband and I sometimes find ourselves racing just to keep up. It’s like they truly think they are entitled to everything!!”

We didn’t get to finish our conversation that night, but Lil’s comments stayed with me, and caused me to think deeply about the distinction between empowerment and entitlement. Lil, if you’re reading, here are my thoughts! 🙂

I am a big believer in entitlement, in the sense that I believe that everyone is entitled to have whatever it is they desire. I am also a firm believer in actively directing our thoughts and actions in order to bring about the fulfillment of our desires. The essence of empowerment is knowing that we have within us the ability to create what we want – whether it’s something material, like a new toy or something intangible, like more harmony in our relationships. While at some level we may wish that everything we want would fall out of the sky and into our laps, we also know that it’s a lot more satisfying to achieve a goal that we have been actively working toward… kind of like enjoying a delicious meal that you made yourself. To be empowered is to actively participate in shaping our own destiny.

Provided that they are fortunate enough to be born into a relatively stable and loving family, our children come into the world with an innate sense of entitlement. As babies and even young toddlers, their needs and desires – for food, for warmth, for love, for connection – are fulfilled spontaneously, often before they are ever expressed. Through our love and attention, our kids learn that they are worthy, they are valued, they are important, they are loved, and they are entitled to experience the very best that life has to offer.

Here is the important distinction: When it comes to manifesting the things we want, having a healthy sense of entitlement only represents half the equation; being an active participant in the creative process is the other half.

When we give our kids the opportunity to contribute to the wellbeing of the household; to demonstrate appreciation for the things they have; and to play a role in earning whatever it is they are asking for, they learn that they are not just worthy of receiving it, but also powerful enough to help create it.

Click here for more information about the Enlightened Kid Program.

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