Are you a cynic, sceptic or realist?

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Do you ever have doubts about other people’s intentions, good or bad?  Do some things seem just too good to be true? Do people have ulterior motives?

As with all good writers (not that I’m counting myself among them), I’ll start with the definitions:

Cynic – a person who believes that only selfishness motivates human actions and who disbelieves in or minimizes selfless acts or disinterested points of view.

Sceptic – i) a person who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual, ii) a person who maintains a doubting attitude, as toward values, plans, statements, or the character of others.

Realist – a person who tends to view or represent things as they really are.

Recently, I’ve been trying to lose, or at least minimise, my cynicism of others and try to believe what they are doing and saying are genuine, and that we all believe that what we do and say is the correct version of the truth. I have been guilty of thinking that (some, not all) people only do things for their own gain, whether that’s to look better in the eyes of others, to garner some sort of advantage over others, or to make their plight sound worse than someone else’s in order to gain the most sympathy.

Being cynical may stem from a bad past experience but it can prevent us from having meaningful relationships with others if the whole while we are thinking that everyone is out to get us. It may also have negative effects on our happiness and wellbeing, and rub off on those around us.

I am trying to reprogramme my brain to assume that whatever someone does or says is for the general better, and to take it at face value, and that they mean well by it. Being constantly genial and lenient may have its flaws given that it could lead me into being gullible and susceptible to someone’s bad intentions, whilst assuming they could only be doing or saying something unselfishly.

I have very recently called into question the authenticity of someone’s actions, based on their previous track record.  I am very sceptical of this person’s version of the truth given that they have been caught out before but it doesn’t seem to deter them from trying to pull the wool over other people’s eyes.  I could be doing this person an injustice on this occasion but it’s very hard to believe them when they have such a poor track record. 

Constantly being sceptical about another’s version of the truth can also manifest in developing poor relationships with others. Again, I am trying to believe that their version of the truth is in fact the real version.  I will take this particular person’s latest action on face value and deal with it as such.

Sometimes, we can get cynicism and scepticism confused with realism.  In our version of the truth we say or do things we absolutely believe to be the true version and support our arguments with axioms like “I’m being realistic about it”. Viewing realism this way puts a pessimistic tone to it, when we might want to consider being realistic about something as an optimistic perspective, seeing things for what they are without any judgement.

Being realistic about it, I recognise that I am the eternal combined cynic and sceptic.  Being realistic in an optimistic way will increase my chances of a happier, healthier life with constructive, engaging relationships with others.  Being realistic about the future and making sound decisions based on evidence can bring a sense of wellbeing, without having to immerse myself in relentless positivity that can often feel fake.


One thought on “Are you a cynic, sceptic or realist?

  1. I’ll try to find time to read the links you’ve included. I think sometimes we’re cynical or sceptical as a self preservation tool, and probably from years of conditioning. Some folk might convince themselves that their cynicism or scepticism is realism sadly


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