What is Cynicism?
Cynicism is the belief that people are mainly motivated to do something purely out of self-interest. A person who inclines toward this way of thinking is labeled as cynical.
A person who is cynical has a mindset that is scornful or jaded; they’re always thinking the worst and have a hard time seeing the good in anyone.
The origin of the term “Cynicism” is associated with the ancient Greek philosophical school of Cynicism was founded by Antisthenes of Athens almost 2500 years ago.
Why Are Some People Cynical?
Some people become cynical as part of a defense posture to protect themselves. It’s typically triggered when we feel hurt by or angry about something.
Traits of a Cynical Person Include:
- Someone who is distrusting or disparages the motives of others
- Shows contempt for accepted standards of honesty or morality, because they’re viewed as hypocritical and serve no purpose
- Bitterly or sneeringly distrustful or pessimistic
- Tends to use a lot of sarcastic language
- Someone who is always preparing for the worst in life
- All compliments and positive words have a clause
Some people have personalities that gravitate toward negativity and negative emotions that are cynical as a result of being nasty, arrogant or pretentious. However there are others that become cynical or jaded due to being beaten down by life and cannot seem to find hope anywhere in sight.
Life can be cruel at times; it can throw a lot of misfortune at you whether it’s one tragedy after another being thrown at you or if you try to turn things around for the better in your life, but things continue to fall apart. Sometimes you may feel broken and defeated and always expect bad luck.
There are still others that become a little cynical because of the wisdom that’s gained through experience.
What Are The Consequences of Being Cynical?
A major consequence of being cynical is that people will distance themselves from you because they’ll find you irritating and dispiriting.
Cynicism overtime will cause you to miss out on the things that make life worth living such as friendship or love. They also tend to hold back from the public sphere, which leads to reduced social and economic contribution and can result in relative poverty and isolation. Overtime relative poverty and isolation brought on by cynicism can cause health problems.
A topic I’ve always found interesting is the mind-body connection. The biological functioning of our bodies is affected by our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes whether they’re positive or negative that occur in our minds. Overtime negative thinking brought on by cynicism can cause health problems.
There are numerous health effects from being too cynical including:
- Increased inflammation in the body
- Increased risk of developing cancer
- Higher risk of cardiovascular problems due to higher blood pressure
- Three times more likely to develop dementia
- More likely to suffer from mental health problems such as anxiety and depression
It’s been reported that millennials have been labeled the most cynical generation ever. This mindset is part of the reason why a lot of people from my generation have chronic ailments.
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How To Reframe Cynicism?
What is Reframing?
I’m referring to cognitive reframing. The idea behind it is that a person’s point of view depends on the frame it is viewed in. When the frame is shifted, the meaning changes and thinking behavior often changes along with it.
A simpler way of explaining reframing is to recognize negative thoughts that cause distress and serve no purpose and reframe them into positive ones.
This works really well with cynical thinking, for example if you meet a person instead of assuming that person is only out for their own self-interests you could ask yourself if this person can be trusted. Reframed cynical thoughts can be useful in all areas of your life.
Tips for reframing cynicism include:
Promote a Balance Between Positive and Negative Thoughts and Emotions: There are so many benefits to positivity such as hope, joy, contentment and gratitude. Being optimistic has been linked to benefits such as improved health and happiness. However unchecked optimism can lead to unrealistic expectations and becoming unaware of dangerous risks that are being made that can lead to loss and the negative emotions that come with it. There are negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, resentment and anger that come with being cynical. The right amount of cynicism can keep us safe in certain situations like positivity does. It protects us from situations that have the potential to raise red flags because we can pick up on negative vibes more than anyone else. However, being too cynical has a major downfall including missing out on opportunities whether they’re professional or relationship related. The universe is all about balance between opposites and this includes the right balance between positive and negative thoughts.
Instead of Being Bitter be Better: There are some cynical people that are the way they are due to bitterness. They tend to spew their inner hurt and anger by saying and doing things that hurt others such as exhibiting ruthless verbal and emotional cruelty to everyone around them. This negativity doesn’t just hurt those around you you’re hurting yourself as well. Instead of being bitter, be better. Start by getting healthy; physically, emotionally and spiritually. If you’re feeling bitter about being physically weak it’s important to get emotionally strong or something is happening that makes you feel emotionally weak such as a relationship coming to an end then hit the gym and start working out. Also, start paying attention to what you put into your body, because a proper diet will make you feel good, while a bad diet will not. Also, it’s important to learn from whatever disappointed you or whatever happened to you at the lowest point in your life. I’m not referring to learning about the reasons why these things happened, I’m referring to the wisdom you’ve acquired that you can apply to make into a better person.
Turn Cynicism Into a Sixth Sense: Being cynical affects how you perceive the world; it’s affected by over generalization caused by negative thinking. However, as I mentioned in my post about turning anxiety into a superpower negative thoughts can be reframed into positive ones. Cynical people tend toward seeing the worst aspects of human nature. In fact trust and cynicism complement each other. Power and money has always been a source of corruption along with other despicable behaviors. Even if you’re the most positive and bubbly person in the world, it helps to know that a little bit of cynicism is not a negative thing. Cynicism can make you aware of your surroundings and can determine whether to trust someone or not. It equips you with the ability to read people. It helps you make better decisions about whether it’s worthwhile to engage with a person or move on if you suspect that person will take advantage of you.
Have you Ever Felt Cynical?
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