Do you react sarcastically to most questions? Do you like to keep things “real”? Then you just might be a cynical person. Although you may not realize that you are cynical, it is affecting your life negatively. That’s why you need to learn how to stop being cynical.
I have been called a cynical jerk several times in my life thanks to my sarcastic comments, grumpy temper and disappointed views on modern life. But I admit I tend to give more credence to the negative aspects of a situation, more than the brighter side of life. Fortunately, I realized how my cynicism was affecting my life and finally decided to stop being so cynical.
I admit some level of cynicism is required at a certain level for our self-esteem and survival, but chronic cynicism can be damaging for both our mental and physical health. This is why we need to address our cynical attitude and learn about the steps to stop being cynical.
What does cynical mean?
Associated with the ancient Greek philosophers known as the Cynics, cynicism is an attitude where someone believes that most people are typically driven by their own self-interest, instead of being motivated by unselfish factors or reasons. Modern day cynics tend to distrust the motives and intentions of other people and believe people are generally insincere.
“Cynicism reflects a negative appraisal of human nature, a belief that self-interest is the ultimate motive behind all human actions, even the seemingly good ones, and that people will go to any lengths to satisfy it,” explains a 2019 study. A cynical person believes that everyone tends to act selfishly all the time as they are only interested in their own personal gains. Cynics also have a pessimistic view of the world and hence, find it difficult to trust people who are driven by ambition, goals, pleasure, desire, materialism etc.
Related: What Is Cynicism?
But what makes a person so cynical?
I have often wondered “why am I so cynical?” and I realized that cynicism is often born out of unrealistic expectations from other people, our community and the authorities. Unmet expectations can result in disillusionment which leads to negative feelings like disappointment, bitterness & resentment. It is often triggered when we feel angry, hurt or betrayed and instead of coping with these emotions in a healthy manner, we let these emotions distort our perspective and beliefs. Someone can also become a cynical person if they feel extremely burnt out. “The experience of cynicism may be more of a core part of burnout than exhaustion,” explains a 2016 study.
We may develop a cynical attitude towards a particular situation or a specific person initially, but eventually it dominates our mindset and we look at everything the same negative way. And this mental attitude slowly makes us more stressed, depressed and hostile leading to lower social support and higher interpersonal conflicts. Studies have found that cynicism can lead to hostility, aggression, anger, anxiety, stress, depression and even suicidal ideation. And this is why you should learn how to stop being cynical if you think you have cynical personality traits.
But before you can learn about the steps to stop being cynical, you need to first understand whether you are cynical or if you have just a healthy dose of pessimism.
Are you cynical?
Here are some of the most common signs you are cynical or have started become a cynical person –
- You become easily annoyed by people who are overly optimistic or motivated
- You use sarcasm as your primary tone for communicating with others
- You think people who praise or compliment you are lying or being patronizing
- You question what others tell you, including the media
- You believe that others are being nice to you because they want to exploit or at least use you
- You have a general pessimistic outlook and avoid romanticizing life
- You always look for the things that can go wrong and prepare for the worst case scenario
- You always believe that everyone has an ulterior or hidden motive
So, are you a cynic? If yes, then here’s what you need to do next.