Four Reasons It’s Not Cynicism, But Cowardice.

Cynicism is the intellectual cripple's substitute for intelligence. ~ Russell Lynes Click To Tweet

There is something to be said for seeing a situation as it is. For being able to regard a moment or a person with as little bias as possible and act accordingly. However, depending on our historical makeup, being able to trust people’s intentions can become a difficult task. While no one is asserting that life is all rainbows and gold stars, walking around with a sense of doom and doubt ultimately doesn’t serve anyone, least of all yourself.

Many people posit themselves as realists but consistently speak about the negativity around them and the lack of goodheartedness and integrity. This position doesn’t add anything positive or assuring to the world or those who surround them. Not only is it totally ineffectual, it’s actually harmful– mostly to the perpetrator themselves. This kind of ‘high-horse’ attitude is simply a cleverly veiled form of cynicism, working very hard to hide the heart that pumps at its core: cowardice.
Here are 4 reasons why this is so.

1) It’s Too Easy

The position of a cynic is to claim that human beings usually have ulterior motives or that there is more evil than good in the world. It’s the person who steeps in negativity and doesn’t believe that things will work out for good. When someone goes to them with good news, they may feign congratulations before asserting, in a blanketed or pointed manner, all of the different ways that it could fail, or how it probably isn’t what the person ‘initially thought’.

The thing about this position is that it doesn’t require anything but negativity and a bad attitude. Being a cynic is incredibly easy because it doesn’t require the faith and hope and strength that someone who is positive, uplifting and encouraging must work to muster and retain on a daily basis, often in the face of great adversity (the more you exercise these tools, the more you will be challenged). Between the two, who do you think has a better chance of making an demonstrable difference in the world? 

2) It Exposes Your Hurts

Everyone has been hurt. Many people have been hurt so deeply that their scars are vivid reminders of visceral pain. Yet, not everyone walks around with a vocal and audacious negativity that can be harmful to others. What you’re blaring to the world through a megaphone when you are openly and ceaselessly cynical is that you are fundamentally wounded; that you are so hurt, you still aren’t capable of doing the work required to heal yourself.

Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist. ~ George Carlin Click To Tweet

People don’t naturally gravitate towards cynicism without some negative experience (or many) precipitating their response. So when you’ve been disappointed or hurt or let down, you use cynicism as a defense mechanism to protect yourself from being hurt again. The funny thing is, to anyone really listening, you’re doing just that.

3) It’s Unkind

Those who deal in cynicism will usually state that they are ‘realists’ or that they are doing others a favor by holding the outlook that they do. This isn’t the case at all. If it was, it would be minus the unkind and often cruel undertones. If you just can’t wait to rain on someone’s parade with the reasons they’ll fail, or why someone will let them down, you aren’t a realist — you’re an emotional bully.

This is the height of cynicism, and the hypocritical cowardice that lies at its heart. You don’t have the right to stomp on someone’s dream or good feeling all in the name of being “honest” or “real”. That’s bullshit. What you’re being is hurtful and mean, period. And you’re doing it most likely because you’re scared and jealous.

Take a moment to think about where all of this comes from. All of the hurt in your past that has given you this black attitude. Does it make you any better than the perpetrator(s) you suffered at the hands of? It may be a lesser wound, but to be overtly negative or dismissive of someone’s dreams or good news is soul crushing, and all you’re doing is taking part in a cycle of abuse you likely didn’t want to be a part of in the first place.

4) It Makes You Cold

How much interest do you have in being miserable and unhappy for the rest of your life? If you take cynicism seriously, this will undoubtedly be your fate. You may be able to escape through the portal of stand up comedy, and while this would definitely be a positive outlet, comics are notoriously depressed and most likely unable to truly escape their fate as cynics. This is why they do what they do.

Yes, there is bad in the world, but there is also light and joy and prosperity and good luck. You cut yourself off from experiencing the positive when you wantonly choose to participate so heavily in the negative. Part of being human is that we have the capacity for both goodness and wretchedness. Our lives and memories aren’t all one thing. They’re a tapestry that we can’t even begin to make sense of, so continuously choosing cynicism is a cop-out. Carrying on in abject negativity to prevent further hurt is not going to work. It will actually end up doing the opposite. Perhaps Oscar Wilde said it best when he asserted:

A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing. ~ Oscar Wilde Click To Tweet