Cynicism is my focus today. We all probably see a lot of cynicism around currently and I wanted to write about it and really just suggest that we examine how we think and how we believe on a daily basis to free ourselves from such cynicism.
The Cambridge dictionary defines ‘cynical’ as an adjective related to being disapproving, they define it as:
believing that people are only interested in themselves and are not sincere:
She has a pretty cynical view of men.
I’ve always been deeply cynical about politicians.
used to say that someone’s feelings or emotions are used to your own advantage:
She works in that most cynical of industries – advertising.
He praises my cooking but it’s just a cynical ploy to get me to make him dinner.
Some definitions relate cynicism to scepticism. My work involves applying healthy scepticism: To the way my clients explain away causes of their problems, to how my mentorees blame outside forces for their businesses not being as effective as they’d like, to the way people portray or talk about hypnosis in ways that are seemingly incorrect or fundamentally flawed – healthy skepticism is part of thinking critically, effectively and is not to be mistaken for cynicism, the two are incredibly different and I hope to demonstrate why and how today. If you are interested in exploring the topic of critical thinking and it’s place within the field of hypnotherapy, then have a read of the following articles:
1. Critical Thinking: Its Importance and Ways to Improve It.
2. Another Scientific Reason For Hypnotherapists to Abandon the Myth of the Unconscious Mind – Cognitive Bias.
3. Anecdotal Hogwash From Hypnotherapists and Why Hypnotherapists Need Critical thinking Skills.
No one is born cynical. Nor are we obliged to become cynical or embittered as a result of life’s challenges, setbacks and heartaches. We can choose a different mindset to the presumed defaults of our circumstances and experiences.
If you look at your social media feeds, look at current world politics, look at newspapers and other news outlets of varying kinds, you might conclude that we have a cynicism epidemic currently and that we have lost faith in our fellow humans!
“There is nothing so pitiful as a young cynic because he has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing.” – Maya Angelo
Cynicism stifles relationships of trust, because it is inherently distrustful. And we don’t get very far without trust. As Stephen M. R. Covey puts it, “Without trust, we don’t truly collaborate; we merely coordinate or, at best, cooperate. It’s trust that turns mere coordination into true collaboration. It’s trust that turns a group of people into a team.” No trust, no team; no team, no victory. In this information age, I believe we simply cannot afford cynicism.
Cynicism not only affects society at large, but it also contributes to psychological and physical well-being (or the detriment of that well-being). According to a recent study published in the American Academy of Neurology journal, people with high levels of cynical distrust may be more likely to develop dementia. Because cynical and suspicious attitudes create a negative filter through which we observe our surroundings, when we are in this state, we tend to miss out on the many joys in life and lead to a rather slanted negative perspective on the world we live in.
Seeing others through the lens of cynicism also affects how we see ourselves. How can we be cynical towards others and maintain genuine commitment to continuous personal improvement? How can we dream, aspire, create, and achieve our full potential with a cynical mindset? The way we see others informs how we see ourselves – the two are not isolated from each other.
“Watch what people are cynical about and one can often discover what they lack” – George S. Patton
Many of us who have worked our professional lives alongside a variety of people have experienced cynicism. We’ve seen it in others, and if we look close enough, we’ve seen it in ourselves.
How do you stop it?
We must cultivate strong relations with people who are positive in orientation. The more such relations we nurture, the more our behaviour will be positive, and there will be less chances of cynicism creeping into our attitude and life. This does not mean that we have to give the cold shoulder completely to every person we believe to be negative, instead we should handle them tacitly and ensure that we are not affected by them and do not buy into their cynicism. Fun, laughter and playfulness can all combat cynicism so beautifully, do have a read of these articles to help foster more of that in your life:
1. How and Why You Need To Be More Playful and Childlike.
2. Ways To Find More Fun in Life.
3. The Science of Laughter: Why Laughing is Really Good for Your Health.
Not only is there truth in the old adage “misery loves company” but cynicism can be contagious and often spreads fast among groups of people if we do not take care of our thoughts and mindset. A cynical attitude is developed through groups of friends, colleagues, workers or teams members. People often tend to believe that they can’t be the agent of change, they cannot think differently or fear rejection. The people around us in many often lead us into agreeing with thoughts and ideas that lead to cynicism or are cynical. When we are trapped in this situation, then we have to make fresh determinations with a deep vow that we will ourselves be the change despite a non-conducive group environment. This determination will give us right wisdom to act in a prudent manner so that we remain positive and employ ways to strong minded, thinking critically and not to develop cynicism.
At home and in our personal lives, we have to realise that if we develop cynical attitude then the entire family or friendship group gets affected. A cynical attitude in family life is generally developed through a chain reaction, which often starts from the negative attitude of one member of the family. We must make daily efforts to give family members hope and encouragement through our positive words and action and with our love for them.
A cynical attitude is also often developed when we are affected by criticism made by others. Some people respond to such criticism by believing that our shortcomings will not be overcome. A feeling of inferiority can ensue and develops, resulting in cynicism. We must develop the habit to take criticism as feedback wherever possible and in a positive, productive way so as to improve ourselves. Developing the right kind of wisdom for this may be difficult, but we can do this if we have full confidence in our abilities.
Sometimes we blow things out of proportion, we often mock at our politicians (I certainly do this), identify defects and fallacies in our system, notice and expect the worst in human nature and all these can symbolise a cynical mind-set. We reach a point that even if someone points out the rationality of a situation, we are not able to comprehend it with a correct or true sense of perspective as we seek out ways to defend our negativity. If we develop the tendency to find out and suggest solutions, then we can tackle our cynicism. More importantly, if we participate in the process of progressive thought building, within ourselves and promoting it within others, then the joy of such involvement often halts the build-up of cynicism.
We must develop the habit to communicate effectively with ourselves so as to heighten awareness of our short-comings. Such an exercise helps us to honestly recognise when our attitude becomes cynical and also implement a change in thinking. A great way to change your way of thinking is outlined in this article:
1. Enjoying the Simple Stuff and Why A x B = C.
When we are driven by a mission, and purpose in life, then our passions are directed to this. This helps us to channel our creative energy to achieve our objectives in a best possible manner. Cynicism deflates when we make positive progress in life and achieve more rewarding and satisfying success.
We must become curious and humble. You might have decades of experience, but don’t assume you have all the answers or have it all figured out (omnipotence is reserved only for a select few). Curiosity takes more effort than accepting the status quo, but it will also expand your mind. In my professional field of hypnosis and hypnotherapy, for example, there are so many who refuse to consider alternate perspectives or explore valid research findings and become cynical of academics – when actually to embrace that would prove much more rewarding and satisfying and potentially enlighten invaluably.
As I wrote at the beginning of this article today, scepticism is very different to cynicism. In many aspects of life, scepticism and cynicism may look similar, but the differences are quite profound. A sceptic searches for a solution while a cynic only focuses on what’s wrong. Cynicism believes the worst of something or someone. It has nothing to do with evidence. It is an outlook on life.
Ultimately, the biggest victim of cynicism is the cynic. If you find yourself becoming cynical, you know that it’s time to change something. Again, cynicism is like the car engine light; it lets us know that something is amiss and needs addressing. If you spot it, take note and consider what you can do to turn it off.
We may all be prone to cynical thoughts at times, but we can each decide what to do about those thoughts and how we respond to them. As the saying goes, a bird may land on your head, but you don’t have to let it build a nest. Will we embrace cynical thoughts and adopt a cynical mindset? Or will we challenge these thoughts and figure out where they came from, what the problem is and how to resolve it?
If you’d like to learn more or if this has resonated with you in some way, then visit these pages:
1. Has cynicism held you back and/or is it still doing so now?
Coaching with Adam Eason Or Hypnotherapy with Adam Eason.
2. Would you like a satisfying and meaningful career as a hypnotherapist helping others overcome cynicism?
Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
3. Are you a hypnotherapist for whom cynicism is negatively effecting the success of your business?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.
Self-hypnosis is a great way to help overcome cynicism. If you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar.
The given Cambridge definitions of cynicism could easily mislead. A more accurate definition would begin with “believing that ‘other’ people are only interested in themselves…” The cynic believes his own motivations to be pure in comparison. In each of the examples, the speaker is expressing doubt about the motives of someone else. Skepticism is a weak parallel, as it states “I do not trust the truth or accuracy of someone else’s statements or behaviors.” Cynicism extends that distrust to include a component of malevolence, perhaps even paranoia. A persistent cynic; someone who perseverates on the negative motives of others; will also have an external locus of control, believing himself to be negatively impacted by the perceived duplicity, even if there is no potential for a direct, negative impact. In other words, cynicism is a problem when it leads to a downward spiral of self-imposed persecution. Self-hypnosis may create a better self-understanding of what is happening in the moment as one gets caught up in cynicism. But to really get at the root of the problem pretty much requires hypnotherapy under the guidance of someone who can guide you to that root. Or, as the cynic in me responds, “That’s what any good hypnotherapist would LIKE you to believe.”
Thanks for such a considered response Steve, greatly appreciated and respected.
Re: Or, as the cynic in me responds, “That’s what any good hypnotherapist would LIKE you to believe.”
– Ha! cleverly and nicely said.
Best wishes, Adam.