“Ella, my darling. I want to tell you a secret, a great secret that will see you through all the trials that life can offer.
You must always remember this: Have courage and be kind.
You have more kindness in your little finger than most people possess in their whole body. And it has power, more than you know. And magic.”
~ Disney’s Cinderella (2015)
When you think about your dream relationship, is it something you hope for or something you think the universe owes you?
Any time I hear the word “fairytale,” I immediately think of Disney animated movies. They’re the fairytales of our time.
I wonder how Disney princesses would answer the above question. Most likely, they’d say they hoped for love, but didn’t feel like it was guaranteed in any way.
Cinderella cooked and cleaned for her step mother and step sisters, never really expecting prince charming. Snow White seemed content to live with the dwarves, even though she was a princess. Ariel traded away her voice for a shot at love. Belle was happy with her books. Even Elsa retreated to her ice castle, resigned to a life of complete isolation.
Not one of them seemed to feel like life owed them a happy ending.
And yet, a recent study indicates that more and more of us (here in the real world) feel a deep-seated sense of entitlement.[i]
Oh, wait. It gets worse.
That same study led researchers to conclude that those of us who feel entitled are nearly guaranteed to be disappointed.
Life rarely works out the way you expect it to. Disappointment leads to anger and other negative emotions. To cope with disappointment, people tell themselves they’re special. But that just renews a sense of entitlement.
What a vicious circle!
When it comes to dating, this one thing can completely destroy legitimate opportunities to be happy. Entitlement holds us back. It feeds on itself.
Even worse, entitlement leads, not to happily ever after, but to chronic disappointment.
If you’re ready to break that circle, you have to divorce yourself from a sense of romantic entitlement. Here’s how you do it.
First, a warning. There’s nothing sexy about the solution to the entitlement problem. It’s not magical or spectacular in any way. In fact, it’s so pragmatic you’ll be tempted to blow it off.
Don’t. It really works.
To break entitlement’s evil spell and free yourself, practice gratitude and humility.
I told you. NOT sexy. But it’s crazy effective.
Gratitude means appreciating what you have now instead of fixating on what you want. If you’re single, enjoy the freedom, even as you look for a connection. If you’re dating, choose to focus on the things you love about your man rather than his flaws.
Humility means recognizing two things at once. You ARE special…but so is literally everyone else. You’re neither more or less unique. The universe doesn’t owe you any more than it owes anyone else.
Go back to the Disney princesses. Every one of them was both grateful and humble. And those qualities made them more attractive!
This is the inverse of the negative cycle entitlement creates. When you practice gratitude and humility, you’re happier with what you have right now and more delighted with new things as you discover them.
Plus, gratitude and humility will make you a more positive, more attractive person.
Do you want to make these irresistible qualities your own? Good. Don’t force it. Just practice it a little bit today and maybe a little bit tomorrow. Be kind, courageous, and carry on.
[i] Grubbs, Joshua B., and Julie Exline J. “Trait Entitlement: A Cognitive-Personality Source of Vulnerability to Psychological Distress.” Psychological Bulletin (2016): n. page. Web.