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Are you a cynic?

Cynic: a person who has a negative or pessimistic view of others or of the world at large. They often distrust or dismiss the motives, sincerity, or goodness of people and are skeptical of the positive aspects of situations, seeing them as insincere, unnecessary, or ultimately doomed to fail.

The guises of cynicism

Many of us might not identify ourselves as cynics. However, our cynicism can subtly manifest whenever we get defensive, feel hurt, face disappointment, or perceive injustice. This is often directed toward the intentions of others and sometimes even toward our own motives. Such cynical views are inherently integrated into Christian doctrines, particularly in Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and numerous Protestant denominations, via the concept of original sin.

Even in interactions with the physical world, not involving any other person, cynicism can surface. When we experience anger or frustration, often it stems from the cynical belief that "things ought to have been different" or "I should have foreseen this."

In fact, given the Old Ethics of Sacrifice, which we've all been brainwashed by, it would be impossible not to be a cynic. To the extent that we've adopted the New Ethics of Integrity, compassion for others and for ourselves becomes second nature.

Cynicism is a failed idea

Cynicism directly contradicts a basic psychological principle: all behaviors are fundamentally driven by positive motivations.

Every time a client reveals to me a behavior they perceive as negative or harmful, such as guilt, resentment, laziness, hatred, or indifference, I frequently pose the question, "What were the benefits in that situation of (thinking, feeling, or doing whatever you did at that time that you now deem negative)?" In all my experiences with clients, we've always been able to find an answer that justified how, at least when the decision was made, the perceived benefits outweighed any costs they were cognizant of at the time.

Absolutely, maintain your personal boundaries. By all means, make your needs known. Certainly, assert a "no" when it's necessary. However, understand that others, as well as you, are navigating through this world as best as they can, based on their perspectives and understandings.

 

Compassion.

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