Sunday, October 23, 2011


First: Definitions
1. An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others:
2. A scornfully or jadedly negative comment or act:

Second: Why
Well, I was about to get cynical when I sat down to work on this post. I realized in some depth of my heart and soul that cynicism was lurking, ready to rear its head and come out of my fingers onto the keyboard and then, my readers, on you.

As I realized that I also realized that I wasn't sure I could truly define what it was I was feeling. So I headed to find the definitions posted above on the Free Dictionary. As soon as I read those I realized what I was feeling. Sadness. Fear. Distrust. It is easy to get distrustful of others, especially their true motives. People are, well, let's be honest, people are human.That means they have mixed motives. Some of those motives are clear to them and others. Some of those motives are hidden to all. Many of those motives can only be seen in retrospect.

Working in the field of addiction it is easy to see all these kinds of motives. Working with people whose brains have been hijacked, short-circuited, and flooded with chemicals natural and otherwise. When this happens motives are often found to be suspect. Those unconscious, or pre-conscious, motives and thoughts come unbidden and even below the level of cognitive awareness. I know that sounds like double-talk. It is not. It is a fact of life that those working in this field have to come to terms with.

Or else cynicism becomes a norm. Even for the healthy ones. Even for those who know better. Things happen that challenge the hopes and expectations. We come face to face with the cynicism of others or the denial that permeates addiction and find ourselves swamped. Before we know it. It is not conscious. It is below the levels of cognition, buried in the mid-brain, the amygdala, and little used circuits of the workings of the brain-mind connection.

So what to do when at the end of a week cynicism bubbles up, around and through? Well, I Googled quotes to put me back into a healthier frame.

It worked. As did a day of nature yesterday, hiking the byways of God's house of the local state park.

Such is the power of personal inventory, stopping and listening to ones feelings and naming them, then opening them up and moving beyond them.

Here, then, I share with you some of the quotes that helped me:

Third: Quotes (Link)

First, a theologian reminds us to stay away from extremes. Being overly sentimental (or even optimistic) is as bad as overly negative.

I think there ought to be a club in which preachers and journalists could come together and have the sentimentalism of the one matched with the cynicism of the other. That ought to bring them pretty close to the truth.
--Reinhold Niebuhr
Yoko reminded me that this cynicism is not who I truly am. The soul is not meant to be that way. Cynicism is part of the hijacking of the brain and soul by things beyond who we really are.
The cynicism that you have is not your real soul.
--Yoko Ono
Jeff Bridges reflects on cynicism as really the lost soul pieces, the hopeful, optimistic side of us calling out for help. "Show me that all is not lost," cries the promise of life within us.
Most cynics are really crushed romantics: they've been hurt, they're sensitive, and their cynicism is a shell that's protecting this tiny, dear part in them that's still alive.
--Jeff Bridges
British musician Coxon finally reminds us that cynicism can be planted, fed and watered, and finally blossom without the help of mind-altering substances. In other words, stay sober.
I think a lot of cynicism has dropped away from my shoulders since I stopped drinking.
--Graham Coxon

No comments: