Are Grudges a Sign of Entitlement Syndrome?

Last week I acknowledged that an old wound had opened, and my response disappointed me. This week, I’ve continued trying to work through those feelings, and learn what I can learn.

I’m always fascinated by the way the Lord partners in this process. I was listening to a book, Disrupt Yourself, while I was out on my long workout. In one section of the book, Whitney Johnson mentions that grudges and self-pity are really just forms of the entitlement syndrome. Mentally, I was pulled up short and intrigued.

When I have been neglected or someone has tried to hurt me or mess things up for me, don’t I have a right to some ugly feelings? Aren’t those the feelings that tell me that something is wrong and that I need to decide about taking action?

My answer would be, yes. There are times and places for emotions — the New Testament records that Jesus felt anger as he cleansed the temple from people who were defiling sacred space and should have known better.

The difference is, the Savior wouldn’t have run into one of those people a week later and lashed out at him or her for what was now over. He would have offered love and the opportunity to repent. He would have done what he could to point that person to a better way and then let them choose.

Try as I might, I still haven’t made it completely there — which brings us to the issue of entitlement.

Look at the third definition in this image: “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.”

If, after years, I can’t let go; if I feel that other people owed me and my family more than they gave; or if I’m still seeing people as they were (or who I thought they were) rather than who they are; then I am convinced I am wrongfully claiming moral superiority. King Benjamin taught an important principle: no matter how hard we work for the Savior, we are always in his debt. The Lord gave us life and breath and spiritual opportunity. Then, when we obey the commandments, honor our covenants, and serve, he blesses us again so that the original debt is never repaid.

I am in debt to someone who gave his life for me, atoned for my sins, and promises help and strength and guidance as I walk through this mortal life. I am “owed” nothing.

So, what of these hurts that still sometimes rear their ugly heads? I’m not entirely sure. They may be burdens that I carry for the rest of my life so that the Lord can use them to refine me. They may eventually go away. All I can do is call on my Heavenly Father in the name of his Holy Son for guidance and strength. I can look for the blessings that were there and I didn’t count them at the time. I can look forward in faith for the blessings that are certain because they were promised to me by the Lord.

And, I can wait for the Lord to either calm the storm or to comfort and protect me until it passes.


Have you found entitlement lurking in hidden places in your life? Tell us how you overcame it in the comments!