According to the Webster's Dictionary, the word "cynical" implies a "contemptuous disbelief in human goodness and sincerity." You doubt either yourself or others, or maybe, the whole world. Your negativity gremlins can keep you stuck and dissatisfied.
While it may appear that the cynical brain attacks your character and undermines your good intentions, in fact, the cynical brain often simply wants to protect you. It does so by diverting your attention to the negativity gremlins that can keep you paralyzed with fear and self-doubt and prevent you from acting decisively. The cynical brain likes status-quo.
Attention is the most important asset these days, and there are many things that compete for our brain's attention. Negativity gremlins frequently win because we are wired to pay more attention to our negative emotions, just in case there is a tiger, an angry boss, or some other danger around the corner. It's a built-in self-preservation mechanism. It is usually associated with the fight-or-flight response and a narrow focus, or tunnel vision. When the cynical brain is in control, our mind is shut down to alternative interpretations or better options. The negativity gremlins fixate your attention on what's wrong.
In order for the brain to broaden its focus and be more receptive to new information, you need to shift into a more positive state of mind. You want to begin by acknowledging the cynical brain. It's important to recognize your own self-sabotage when it happens and identify the thinking patterns that grab your attention and hold you back.
In his book "Thinkertoys," creativity expert Michael Michalko offers an exercise aimed at replacing negative attitudes with more positive thoughts. The exercise is called "Tick-Tock" and can be adapted to help the cynical brain shift out of the negative stories.
First, divide a piece of paper into two columns and write the word "Tick" in the left-hand column and "Tock" in the right-hand column. In the "Tick" column, list all the negative thoughts you have about your current situation. The mere act of labeling and writing down negative thoughts and feelings often takes the negative energy out of them. It's like venting in private that tames your gremlins.
Next, examine your negativity gremlins and come up with more positive approaches and ideas to substitute for those negative thoughts in the "Tick" column. Replace each subjective negative thought with a positive alternative and intention and write it down in the "Tock" column.
This is a powerful exercise on changing thinking habits. Not only it can help the cynical brain to open up to new possibilities, with practice, this process of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones can become a mental habit.