Negativity is a choice

My husband commented this past weekend; he seems to have become more cynical as he has gotten older.  It seems to sneak up on us based on what we’ve experienced.  The hope that people will be kind erodes over time, especially now.  But as we approach life with more caution, we allow our egoic mind to take control of our thinking, making us more bitter.  The ego knows nothing about our future; therefore, it doesn’t know enough to turn us into a cynical pessimist. 

When we react negatively to a situation, it’s based on an adverse emotional reaction.   We may feel vulnerable, let down, or disappointed.  We’re allowing the egoic mind to indulge in judgmental attitudes.  We aren’t accepting what is. We want a different outcome then we have. When we’re cynical, we become defensive.

Many people associate cynicism with pragmatism.  But expecting a negative outcome isn’t being practical. It’s attracting into your life something we don’t want.  Why do that?

There are enough negative forces in this world don’t let the pessimistic voice that lives inside you get away with that stuff, too. That voice is not a good roommate. ~ Felicia Day

Where does this Negative Attitude come from?

Most of our cynicism arises from our past—the critical attitude we see when we are children shapes how we react.  When we are hurt, disrespected, or vulnerable, it can trigger this defense mechanism.  Yes, cynicism, pessimism, and sarcasm are all defense mechanisms we use to help us deal with uncomfortable circumstances

When we feel disrespected, we take on a darker view of our fellow human beings.  For example, a co-worker gets a promotion even though our boss told us we were next to receive the advancement.  Now our ego begins a scenario in our minds that the co-worker outmaneuvered us from getting what we deserved.  So now we react negatively at work. We become short-tempered and less supportive of our co-workers and disrespectful to our boss. 

We base our reactions on the past.  The ego doesn’t know much- it only knows the past and only how it remembers it.  Therefore, it doesn’t know anyone’s intentions, nor does it know the future.  So, the cynical attitude is a reaction to the past, not the present. 

There is nothing so pitiful as a young cynic because he has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing. ~ Maya Angelou

How does Cynicism hurt us Financially?

Being a pessimist is noxious.  It robs us of our happiness because we anticipate disappointment everywhere we turn.  So, the ego keeps us from dreaming and hoping.  It doesn’t allow us to try new things- it keeps us stagnant. 

Cynics are less trusting, less confident, and sicklier.  Pessimism is very limiting.  Thus, most nay-sayers make less money and have less advancement in their careers than an optimist.  They have put themselves at a disadvantage because they are less likely to ask for help or pursue opportunities when they arise. 

Cynics make compromises that may not be in their best interest because they assume others have malicious motives.  Pessimistic people don’t rely on others because they are suspicious of their intentions. 

This cycle of low income can increase the cynicism we feel and keeps us bound in the egoic mind. We are not allowing ourselves to rise above the negativity.  Therefore perpetuating the skepticism we have towards life. 

Cynicism is not realistic and tough. It’s unrealistic and kind of cowardly because it means you don’t have to try. ~ Peggy Noonan

How does Pessimism hurt our Relationships?

When we’re cynical, it means we complain to others.  We react sarcastically to people. We are thus causing others to avoid us.  Who wants to be around a negative Nellie?  I certainly don’t.  I want to keep my positive outlook and my happiness.  I give no one the power to take away my peace. 

It’s hard to deal with a pessimist and overcome their dark clouds, even if we’re optimists.  So, we avoid the cynic, and they keep their distance from us, so they don’t form meaningful connections with others.  If they think we have ill intentions, they won’t welcome us into their lives.    

And if a cynic has relationships, they are challenging to maintain.  We try to deal with the barrage of negativity while the pessimist always thinks we will harm them.  Eventually, the relationship will fail, and the parties will go their separate ways because they can’t deal with the other’s behavior. 

The cynic is one who never sees a good quality in a man and never fails to see a bad one. He is the human owl, vigilant in darkness and blind to light, mousing for vermin, and never seeing noble game. ~ Henry Ward Beecher

How does Negativity hurt us Physically?

Cynical people are less healthy than optimists.  We know that negative emotions cause metabolic, hormonal, and immunological issues.  It causes a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes.  Many pessimistic people have unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking, unhealthy eating, which increase their risk of disease.  Again, this forms a cycle for which the pessimist feels terrible and causes more negativity in the body. 

Negative people are three times more likely to develop dementia. The amount of stress that a cynic inflicts on themselves because of believing others’ motives are malicious is high. 

It’s not surprising that pessimists are more susceptible to depression.  It disconnects cynics from any hope, thus leading to feelings of helplessness. Sometimes it is a defense mechanism to keep them from getting hurt based on past experiences.  But this only spirals them further downward, away from the relief of the negativity, and further into being cynical about everything. 

Life is what we make of it. A pessimistic person is constantly preparing for the worse possible scenario instead of enjoying what life proffers. ~ Kilroy J. Oldster

How does Cynicism hurt us Emotionally?

If we are looking at life through such a negative lens, we tend to turn the disapproval inward.  We allow the egoic voice to overtake the soul’s whispers, and we begin to feel unworthy.  We believe that we aren’t good enough.  The harsh self-judgment gets projected onto the world around us. 

The destructive attitudes create a negative filter through which we perceive our environment.  When we look through the dark lens, we miss out on the joy in our life.  We don’t see the love that surrounds us because we’re focused on the darkness.  We perceive the world with an us versus them mentality. 

Sarcasm is the negative language of the pessimist.  It allows the cynic to feel a false sense of power.  It’s a passive-aggressive way to bully another person.  Being sarcastic is a way to be mean.  It’s showing contempt for another by trying to be humorous.  

By perpetuating a cynical attitude, we block any light from getting into our environment.  We cannot see any hope.  We feel disempowered to change the future. 

So, we can see how being cynical can hurt us financially, relationally, physically, and emotionally.  How do we stop this negative mindset from continuing to harm us?

Optimism is joyful searching; pessimism is a prison of fear and a clutching at illusionary safety. ~ Kathleen Brehony

Be Aware of Our Cynicism

Once we become aware of an issue, we can overcome it.  Acknowledging the negative mindset is the first step in changing our attitude.  When we accept what is, when we see the pessimism come out, we can allow it to pass. 

When we recognize that we focus on the darkness, we can begin to look for the light. This simple act of looking for another perspective is life-changing.  It allows hope to reenter our lives and opens us up for happiness and peace.

Be compassionate with ourselves because we will stumble and allow the old patterns of behavior to creep in, and that’s okay.  We are learning to look for options, and this is a new process for us.  Growth in any form can cause discomfort, but we can overcome it. 

Don’t be a cynic and disconsolate preacher. Don’t bewail and moan. Omit the negative propositions. Challenge us with incessant affirmatives. Don’t waste yourself in rejection, or bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good. ~ Emerson

Embrace Optimism

Smile, be more enthusiastic.  Be interested in others.  Yes, we can pretend our way at the beginning as we become more accustomed to our new positive attitude.  By doing so, we recognize that the people we meet are essential in some way, and we can benefit from one another. 

Even though it’s easier for the egoic mind to focus on negativity than uplifting ideas, being aware of this fact helps us refocus our minds. Our ego is doing what it’s created to do, look for danger.  But it’s skewed and not giving us the full picture.  

Look for the positive in our life.  When we become aware of the negative thought, allow the light to shine on the circumstances so we can look for an alternative perspective.  The more we focus on the positive, the more optimism we’ll see. 

The optimist lives on the peninsula of infinite possibilities; the pessimist is stranded on the island of perpetual indecision. ~ William Arthur Ward

Be Grateful

Practicing gratitude is a beautiful way to see the good life provides us each and every day.  It efficiently blocks out the cynical attitude.  It’s hard to be pessimistic when we see how wonderful life is all around us.

Every morning I journal to Spirit.  It’s a time where I reflect on all I’m thankful for and what I want to accomplish this day.  I am thankful for big things and small things: safe travels, the well-being of my adult children, my cup of tea in the morning, the time with Mother Nature. 

Thankfulness is a wonderful tool that lets us see the peace that exists in our lives.  It’s a way for us to show and feel the love that surrounds us each day.  By starting each day by being grateful, we allow ourselves to begin the day with an optimistic outlook, thereby attracting more positivity to us. 

Optimists focus on the place they are going. Pessimists focus on the obstacles along the route. To become an optimist, simply look ahead. ~ Simon Sinek

Mindfulness helps limit Cynicism

When we are mindful, we stay in the present moment where we can see and accept what is.  We aren’t anxious about the future or depressed by the past.  By fully living in the moment, negativity naturally slips away because right now, all is well.  In the present, we can allow hope into our lives. 

Mindfulness allows us to recognize any negativity and let it pass.  We can take a deep breath in, count to five, release the breath, count to five, and realize we are calm.  We can breathe easily. 

That simple breathing technique provides oxygen to our bodies and relaxes us.  Holding our breath or shallow breathing causes tension, and we aren’t even aware we are doing it.  So, stop every so often and breathe.  Restore your internal rhythm and let peace flow into the moment. 

Pessimists fear becoming the dupes of Hope. Optimists enjoy Hope’s company and consider being duped no great matter. ~ Mason Cooley

Be Cognizant of Other’s Energy

Are the people we hang around with positive or negative?  Do they lift us up or bring us down?  We need to be aware of the energy that others bring to our lives because they influence our outlook on life.  If we spend our time with pessimists, then we will see the negativity in life.  However, when we hang out with optimists, we see more positive aspects of our lives. 

Sometimes we outgrow people.  It means not everyone will be in our lives forever.  Occasionally they help us for a time, or we help them for a time, but we have to learn to let relationships fade away for our own good. Spend time with those people who lift you up and encourage your dreams.

Keep in mind that social media and the news can harm us because these media sources focus on the negative.  Instead, choose only to post encouraging messages.  Don’t perpetuate the negative and cause more harm for yourself and others.  It’s one thing to know what’s going on in the world. It’s another to allow the news to create an adverse emotional reaction because we allow it to fuel our egoic minds. 

The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer. There are many men who feel a kind of twister pride in cynicism; there are many who confine themselves to criticism of the way others do what they themselves dare not even attempt. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Creativity Curbs Cynicism

When we are creative, when we are playful, when we are curious, we open our connection to Spirit.  These are the times we are in a magical state of flow – when we lose track of time.  Singing our favorite song when it comes on the radio, drawing a picture, or exercising, these are ways we can allow our creativity to keep us in an encouraging place. 

We’re all creative, some of us know it, and for others, someone has crushed your Spirit. I love to paint, but I had an art teacher who told me I wasn’t good enough to be an artist.  I believed her for over thirty years, but she was wrong.  I am creative.  I am an artist.  Maybe not up to her standards, but who is she to squelch my creativity? 

As I took up painting again, it opened me up to writing.  That led me to write my memoir, create a blog, and start the Soul Solutions podcast.  We are all creative in our own unique way; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent, and all will be lost. ~ Charlie Chaplin

Be Authentic

Pessimism grows from fear and pain from our past.  So, we put on a mask called cynicism.  When we hide our true selves from others, we become disconnected, and we allow the ego to fuel our fears.  We have to see the way fear disguises itself in our lives.  We need to remove the masks and become our authentic selves

Authenticity means that we allow the light within us to shine.  We focus on our strengths and surround ourselves with like-minded individuals.  By following our hearts and listening to the soul’s voice, we overcome the fear that the ego uses to keep us small. 

Accept what is and change what we can for the better.  It’s empowering to realize that we have choices and options.  We can stay in the dark or open the curtains to let the light shine in and change our perception. 

Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. ~ Stephen Colbert

Moving Forward beyond Cynicism to Optimism

Yes, bad things happen.  And we can’t control everything.  But being cynical is a choice.  Choosing to be a pessimist causes damage to all aspects of our lives.  We lose money, relationships, our physical and mental well-being.  Why, because we believe the ego’s lie that we are in danger, that others have mean intentions.  So, for us to be safe and gain some control in our lives, we become cynical.  But we can see that our pessimism is causing us great unhappiness.  So, to change this, we need to change our attitude.

We can see by watching the world around us that people are still falling in love.  Children are laughing and having fun despite the negative news.  People are succeeding in their endeavors.  In spite of everything, strangers are still helping one another.  Creatives are making art.  Life goes on whether we are focusing on the darkness or the light.  So why not look for the positive aspects of life and allow ourselves to be happy? 

We choose the lenses we look through.  We have the option to see the positive instead of the negative.  I choose to be an optimist because the ego lies and doesn’t know enough to be cynical. 

To the pessimist, a bad event is the end of the story. To the optimist, it’s a slow chapter in an otherwise excellent book. The difference between an optimist and a pessimist often comes down to endurance and time frame. ~ Morgan Housel

As we become more conscious of our cynicism, we can learn to change our negative mindset and allow peace and happiness in our lives.