Cynicism: the deadly poison

When we think of issues and struggles we or others may have, we don't typically think about cynicism. We think about anger, addiction, depression, or anxiety.

However, cynicism poses an incredible threat to our happiness and behavior if not dealt with and confronted properly.

What is cynicism?

One simple definition of 'cynicism' is “a cynical feeling of distrust.”

Another definition of 'cynical' is “distrusting the motives of others, bitterly distrustful.

Synonyms of cynicism  

Doubt | Pessimism | Suspicion | Skepticism | Disbelief | Discouragement

How do we become cynical? 

In either one of two ways - slowly or immediately. It depends on how painful the experience was to us and how we dealt with it.

Sometimes certain experiences make us jaded. Sometimes things don't turn out how we wanted them to or how we expected them to. And when not dealt with properly lead us to becoming pessimistic towards simliar future situations. 

One of the biggest areas of our lives that most of us face cynicism or bitterness is our dreams.

When our dreams get crushed, our hearts can get crushed.

A man is not hurt so much by what happens, as by his opinion of what happens.
— Montaigne

Life can be difficult, there’s no doubt about that. But it’s what we do with those circumstances that determine how they affect us. 

Cynicism stems from a wounded heart. We believed and loved someone, then they hurt us. We were vulnerable with them and then they broke our hearts. We can’t let that happen again so we shut our heart up in a box to ensure that we will never to be hurt again. We dare not make the same mistake twice. 

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
— C.S. Lewis

We are scared to be wrong.

What if I believe God loves me and it turns out that He is a fraud?
What if He lets me down? 

These are the thoughts that creep in on us.

If God was good, He wouldn’t have let this happen?

Cynicism feeds off of wounding. It feeds off of little seeds of doubt and skepticism. 

These seeds seem harmless and are very subtle but they slowly make up a whole garden of distrust, disbelief, and suspicion. 

Cynicism leads to bitterness. It sours something that was originally sweet. 

Pope John XXIII once remarked that, “Men are like wine - some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age.” What a true statement!

Cynicism is a poison.

Corrupting. Corroding.

Like an evil vine, it chokes the life out of its prey.

 Cynicism has a venomous bite.

Lethal. Destructive.


How do you know if you are cynical?

Cynicism manifests in a hyper criticalness towards others.

It manifests itself in excessive nitpicking and complaining — usually over trivial things. 

It's a sign of something deeper at work.  

Before starting something new, you feel like it's a hopeless endeavor.

When someone else tries to do something that you previously failed at, you scorn them.

You treat them with derision. 

Some questions to ask yourself

  • Are you constantly pointing out the flaws of others? The negatives of a particular situation? 
  • Do you find yourself always seeing the negatives of others or situations long before you see anything positive?
  • Do scoff at others for trying new things or things that you failed at doing?
  • Do people often accuse you of berating or criticizing them too much?
  • How does it feel to point out the shortcomings of others? Does it make you feel better about yourself?

These are all telling signs of cynicism.

Things to keep in my mind

Cynicism is a wolf in sheep's clothing. It disguises itself as being wise and helpful when really it's extremely damaging to ourselves and others. 

Bitterness and resentment subtly take root and yield a harvest of rotten fruit. 

Cynicism kills your joy and it kills the joy of others. 

It tears people down.

Tragedy or pain needs to be addressed properly in order for cynicism to not have a place in our hearts. 

How do we protect our hearts from bitterness and cynicism?

Our pain needs to be filtered by the word of God. It needs to be filtered through the truth and reality of God. During extremely difficult and painful times, our hearts must be fed and nourished with the Word. 

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
— Ephesians 4:31

Not just a rigid reading of the scriptures either. You need the Holy Spirit to bring you revelation to help you understand what you're reading. 

You may need to silence yourself before the Holy Spirit and let Him minister His love to those areas of your heart that have been hurt.

Ultimately, the cure for cynicism is love. 

When God lavishes His unique and personal love on you, it changes you.

Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.
— 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Living Bible Translation

Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].
Love never fails [it never fades nor ends].
— 1 Corinthians 13:7-8 Amplified Bible

Your soul is a garden. Let the Gardener plant His love.

Has God given you any revelation on cynicism in your own life?
Feel free to share it with us.