Cynicism is an attitude that one has when they think that most individuals are typically motivated by their own self-interest rather than being led by altruistic reasons or motives. It is associated with the ancient Greek philosophers known as the Cynics. Cynics of today frequently doubt the intentions and motives of others and think that most individuals are deceptive.
Image: Diogenes (on right) was cynical before it was even cool.
According to a 2019 study, "cynicism represents a negative assessment of human nature, a conviction that self-interest is the ultimate motivation behind all human activities, even the ones that appear to be good," and that people will go to any length to achieve it. A cynic thinks that since everyone is simply concerned with their own interests, they all act greedily all the time. Because of their negative outlook on the world, cynics have a difficult time trusting in people who are motivated by ambition, goals, happiness, passion, prosperity, etc.
But what gives someone such cynicism?
I've come to the conclusion that cynicism frequently results from having unreasonable expectations of other people, our community, and authority figures. Unmet expectations can lead to disappointment, which breeds resentment, hatred, and other emotions. It frequently arises when we experience anger, hurt, or betrayal, and instead of handling these feelings in a healthy way, we allow them to muddy our judgment and beliefs. Experiencing excessive burnout can also make a person pessimistic. According to a 2016 study, "the experience of cynicism may be more of a core aspect of burnout than exhaustion."
At first, we might become cynical about a certain circumstance or a certain person, but soon, it takes over our thinking and we begin to see everything in a negative light. And over time, this mentality causes us to become increasingly anxious, unhappy, and aggressive, which decreases social support and increases interpersonal disputes. Cynicism has been linked to hostility, violence, rage, anxiety, tension, depression, and even suicidal thoughts, according to studies. And for this reason, if you believe you possess cynical personality traits, you should discover how to overcome them.
But before you can discover how to stop being cynical, you must first determine whether you are pessimistic or merely have a good touch of it.
Here are some of the most typical indicators that you are cynical or are beginning to become one:
People that are extremely optimistic or motivated easily annoy you.
Your go-to tone while conversing with people is sarcasm.
You believe that those who admire or praise you are lying or being condescending
You challenge what others tell you.
You think that others are being nice to you because they want to take advantage of you or at the very least, utilize you.
You tend to be sour and avoid romanticizing things.
Your attitude on life is generally negative.
You always consider the worst possibilities and plan for the worst-case scenario.
You always assume that everyone has a secret or malicious intention.
So, are you overly cynical? If so, you can take the next steps.
How to quit being cynical
Here are a few suggestions to help you stop being cynical all the time if you want to change your perspective and mindset to one that is more positive and less sarcastic:
1. Admit your pessimism
The first step in conquering your cynicism is admitting that you have grown too gloomy for your own good. It will be simpler for you to put in the effort to let go of your pessimistic outlook and acquire a more positive outlook once you acknowledge that your attitude is preventing you from moving forward. When you engage with others, try to be conscious of your negative attitude because self-awareness can help us better manage our emotions. According to studies, self-awareness, meta-awareness, and mindfulness can improve our ability to self-regulate our behavior and foster prosocial behaviors.
So, as you begin to become aware of your thoughts, it will be easier for you to alter your cynic outlook.
2. Foster an optimistic outlook
Yes, it's more simple said than done, particularly if you're a cynic. But this part is vitally essential if you want to understand how to stop being cynical and take actions to alter your mindset. Optimism could appear silly and immature to a cynic. However, you must understand that optimism has several advantages and perks that can significantly change your life, including:
improved mental and physical health
less stress and a longer life
reduced diseases and illness
improved emotional stability
improved resilience, performance, and productivity
increased capacity for success
Words of encouragement and mantras that you can say to yourself every day might take the place of negative ones. Instead of concentrating on how others are pursuing their goals, set specific goals and concentrate on how you can fulfill your own. When faced with a challenging scenario, consider the potential downsides while retaining an optimistic outlook. Every situation has a positive aspect that you may learn from.
Do not spend excessive time planning your relationships, or overthinking your desires. Cut out the overthinking. Appreciate the moment, feel grateful for what you have right now. Stay away from unpleasant thoughts and regrets from the past, as best as you can. Stop playing the old tapes in your mind.
Avoid focusing on your shortcomings and unpleasant experiences from the past. It's already past time. Staying stuck in the past will not bring you any good living today!
Being more mindful will help you focus on the here and now, which is all you really have.
Be appreciative for what you have and acknowledge it. Every day, list three things for which you are grateful.
Spend more time with upbeat individuals. Instead of passing judgment on them, pay attention to how they think in various scenarios. (And watch out for other naysayers and cynics!) 😮
Challenge your negative thoughts and ask yourself whether they are valid. Never let your cynicism cloud your judgment.
Be less problem-focused and more solution-focused.
3. Take a deep breath and unwind
Pause for a while and just concentrate on your breathing rather than attempting to keep yourself continually occupied to avoid dealing with your negative thinking. That's how you get over your cynicism. Being "busy" is neither a justification for being cynical nor a way to overcome it. Cynics are known to frequently hold their breath, which makes them more likely to experience dyspnea. Although not done on purpose, this automatic defense mechanism can interfere with their capacity to unwind and pay attention to their thoughts.
You can learn to breathe deeply and unwind your thoughts by engaging in breathwork or breathing exercises, as well as relaxation methods like yoga and mindfulness meditation. As an alternative, you can just stop when you see that negative ideas are starting to enter your mind, go for a stroll outside, and take deep, relaxing breaths. You may soothe and settle your thoughts by doing this. You can arrange your thoughts by pausing and breathing.
Best wishes always!