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June 20, 2018

The Antidote to Resentment and Entitlement

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The Antidote to Resentment and Entitlement

Last month’s Going Deeper explored the path from Obligation to Resentment to Entitlement. This month I want to look at the other path, the road less traveled:


The opposite of obligation, “I have to" is “I choose to” or “I want to.” At the heart of choosing and wanting is seeing yourself as the creator of your life (By Me), not as a victim at the effect of others (To Me). From To Me, I have to. From By Me, I choose or want. One of the entry points to living from By Me is learning the Whole Body YES.

Whole Body Yes

A whole body yes is just what the words imply: your whole body supports your yes. Many times we say yes from our heads; it sounds like a good thing to do, maybe even the right thing from a logical standpoint. We say yes, but we fail to check with our heart or our gut. At other times we might fall in love (heart) with an idea, but fail to check with our head.

To live from a whole body yes, check with your head, heart, and gut when it’s time to make a decision. If all three centers of intelligence line up there’s a good chance a whole body yes is coming. Just to make sure, scan your body to see if there are any sensations arising in or on your body that aren’t a yes. Rarely, if ever, does a decision lead to resentment and entitlement when you check with your whole self for a yes.

Download our Whole Body Yes worksheet

Openness and Curiosity

When we live from obligation, we close and contract, which some people experience as a sense of flatness. When we live from yes, we open. We have chosen this action, this relationship, this path; and from this place of empowered choice we are excited to learn what life has to teach us. Think about the difference between taking a class in college because it was required for your major versus taking a class that you freely chose. The motivation to learn, the openness, and the curiosity is much greater in the freely chosen course of action.

The Importance of “No”

What leaders who commit to living from a whole body yes discover is that they say no a lot. The “no” clears away the unnecessary, the optional, and the “required” so that what is mine and mine alone to do emerges. Saying no and waiting for a whole body yes keeps a leader or a team squarely aligned with purpose, and keeps energies, like money and time, from being wasted on projects that people are not fully aligned with.

Often when we coach new leaders we will ask them to go on a “No Diet” for a few weeks. What this means is that their first response to all requests will be to say no. (By the way, leaders find that it’s much easier to change a no to a yes than it is to change a yes to a no.) Just say no. Some ancient spiritual practices called this the Via Negativa (the way of the no). The idea was that in order to find the will of God, that most prized pursuit of monks and mystics, one had to say no to all and everything that could compete with the still, small voice of God. Leaders have countless competing requests for their time and energy. Learning to say “no” boldly in order to eliminate anything that competes with or distracts from what matters most is key to long term success.

Just as doing things from obligation leads to resentment, living life from a whole body yes leads to openness and curiosity, then appreciation.


Once we choose freely and experience openness and curiosity, we begin to live in appreciation. Wonder and appreciation are our natural states, but they get blocked when we live from obligation and resentment. 

Appreciation is the choice to see life with fresh eyes, to be constantly surprised and delighted. It’s the choice to let life grow in value, to appreciate like a fine piece of art.  

You know all of this. You know it from experience...

Think of one thing in your life you are doing truly from a whole body yes, with no obligation or no hold back, just YES. Maybe it’s building a Lego set this weekend with your 8 year old daughter, or meeting with your team to vision for a new product launch, or reading a book by the beach. If it’s coming from a yes you’ll see that you’re naturally open and curious and effortlessly filled with appreciation. This path of a whole body yes to openness/curiosity to appreciation is a naturally self reinforcing energizing way to live and lead.

In every moment you’re choosing a path:

                       OBLIGATION     →     RESENTMENT     →     ENTITLEMENT



What do you choose?  

Read Part 1: How to Be Resentful and Entitled

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