Want Greater Peace of Mind? Learn to Ignore More and Let Things Go

Person walks down the street with headphones on, holding coffee, smiling calmlyIn Kundalini yoga there is a practice called the Ego Eradicator. To do it, you raise your hands, put them in a specific position called a mudra, and begin a long series of sharp exhalations that rhythmically pump the diaphragm (known as Kapalabhati breathing).

This practice is found by many to be invigorating and energizing, but it will not actually eradicate your ego. We are born with an ego, and we will die with one. This fact can make it easy to take things personally.

In general, we humans have a tendency to see the world through our own eyes, using ourselves as reference points. Because of this, we tend to end up taking most things to heart. A natural, usually unconscious, extension of this tendency is using what happens to support or contradict what the ego seeks.

As you may well imagine, the ego wants praise and validation. This would not be such a big problem—except the ego has a way of magnifying and distorting even minor comments and reactions from other people. How many times in life have you felt hurt by something small that mushroomed into something enormously offensive because your ego felt bruised? 

It’s Not About You

One way we can become more resilient to the behavior of others is by reminding ourselves that the behavior is not a reflection of us. In fact, it may have little or nothing to do with us. Once we realize this, we can consciously choose to ignore more. This is easier said than done, of course. But in time, with enough practice, we can actually train ourselves to stop taking everything personally.

Most things in life are not about us, but the ego generally doesn’t want to believe this. Luckily, we are more than our ego. When we change our perspective, other parts will welcome this shift, as it can allow us to feel calmer and more in control of our reactions.

We are in our own minds, bodies, and emotions 24/7. As a result, we can end up unconsciously projecting our thoughts and feelings onto others. Once we realize we are doing this, it often becomes easier to see people‘s comments and reactions as a reflection of who they are, not who we are. A logical extension of this awareness is the appealing practice of ignoring more. At first, learning to ignore more may be somewhat difficult, but it becomes easier every time we do it.

Learn to Ignore for Inner Growth

What does ignoring more actually look and feel like?

Let’s say someone says something you find offensive. First, remind yourself their words are a reflection of them and have nothing to do with you. Then simply let the offense go. Yes, this might take a Herculean effort the first time, or even the first few times. But this response will get easier and easier until eventually it becomes almost automatic. When this happens, you may feel lighter, freer, and happier. (But watch out—in the beginning you might find yourself thinking you’re giving the person a free pass, that you’re doing this for their benefit. Nothing could be further from the truth—you are doing this to lighten your emotional load.

Understanding that people’s comments and behaviors come from within them can allow us a little time to evaluate the situation. We can then make a conscious choice to ignore, to not add more bricks to the load we are carrying.

Choosing to ignore and let something go, whether that something is a jibe from a friend, a comment from a boss, or a well-intentioned criticism from a parent, can improve all of our relationships. Think about it: When you take everything to heart, we tend to make a bigger deal out of each comment, facial expression, or behavior. This can kindle strife in our relationships. If we ignore more, we may find we can let many comments or facial expressions go without feeling bad or challenging them.

Understanding that people’s comments and behaviors come from within them can allow us a little time to evaluate the situation. We can then make a conscious choice to ignore, to not add more bricks to the load we are carrying. There is something very freeing about refusing to act the way we might have in the past. The excitement of inner change and growth can be exactly the catalyst to need to become more content with the world as it is.

Training your mind to ignore more can be challenging. It generally doesn’t happen overnight. At first you might slip back into old patterns of taking things personally, ruminating over the responses of others, and escalating issues by over-processing them through lengthy discussion of what was said and what was meant. But I encourage you to be patient with yourself! Even if you succeed in ignoring just a little bit more, you are likely to notice significant changes in your sense of freedom, empowerment, and peace.

If you struggle to adopt this practice into your life, or you find yourself affected by the words and actions of others despite attempting to ignore and let things go, consider seeking support from a therapist or counselor.

© Copyright 2018 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Nicole S. Urdang, MS, NCC, DHM, GoodTherapy.org Topic Expert

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Ariel R.

    April 19th, 2018 at 10:36 AM

    I wish it easier to let stuff go but also there many things we should NOT let go like sexism/racism
    We have to call those things out I think

  • Nicole S.

    April 21st, 2018 at 5:35 AM

    Hi Ariel,
    I couldn’t agree more…on both counts.

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