I recently saw a Web Site that asked the question, “How cynical are you?”
Some of the choices were interesting. Here are a few:
- You don’t trust any politicians.
- You put not stock in astrology.
- You don’t believe anyone has one true soul mate.
- You’re sick of the health police telling you how to eat.
- The self-help industry is just recycled feel-good garbage.
I scored 40%.
What exactly is a cynic? The best definitions call a cynic someone who has a distrust of human nature. Basically, they think that everyone does what they do to satisfy some self-interest of theirs. They also doubt that anyone is honest or has any integrity.
Okay, the definition is clear enough. The next question is what leads someone to believe that way?
If you’ve been teased or mistreated as a youth, cynicism can become ingrained deep within your heart. It’s especially bad if a family member, particularly a parent or an elder, looks down on you, criticizes you, or takes advantage of you in some way.
Cynicism is really a poison. It sows the seeds of anger that grow as more mistreatment waters them. If you’ve come to expect that things will go badly with people, it’s really hard to be happy in any close relationship. You’ll offend others with sarcastic and biting remarks. It may seem funny and even bring some relief, but it’s like trying to find fulfillment in drunkenness. The buzz feels good while it lasts, but the crash leaves you feeling worse than you did before you popped the cork.
We all have to deal with anger. Life will bring hurts our way. You can’t escape it. But you can choose how you’ll deal with it.
If you’ve spent a long time being cynical, take steps to trust others. Change your expectation to at least reflect that relationships can be good as well as bad. Put a leash on your anger and find a more constructive way to deal with pain.
The truth is that we do all have flaws. We all appreciate forgiveness. If your relationships don’t allow forgiveness, they will be short-lived. Alternatively, when we show love we often find it returns to us. It’s risky but worth it.
If you’ll take your interpersonal armor off, you’ll begin to see people in a different light.
They’ll see you differently too.