Intelligence is Ignoring Things that Don't Matter

Sometimes it can be especially difficult to ignore the hurt that someone close to us has caused. For our own sake, we need to learn to let it go.
Intelligence is Ignoring Things that Don't Matter
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Winston Churchill said that no one can reach their destiny if they spend their days throwing stones at every dog that barks at them. Sometimes, by ignoring things you can’t change is an intelligent way to move on and put aside the things that just aren’t worthwhile.

Now… how do we know what’s “worthwhile” and what’s not? This is something that each of us should appreciate because every situation in life is unique and personal.

For some, it will be criticism and negative people. Others may struggle with letting go of personal fears and limiting beliefs.

Today, we’d like to invite you to reflect on this important topic concerning personal growth: knowing when to confront and letting go of the things that keep us from moving on.

The art of ignoring intelligently

Ignoring intelligently is an art, a subtle act of wisdom and maturity. We should never ignore what’s truly important:

  • The people who love us and support our growth.
  • We shouldn’t ignore certain aspects of ourselves, like our talents that take us closer to achieving our dreams and goals.
  • It’s never appropriate to ignore the needs of those who are under our responsibility.

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Let’s take a look at a few strategies that will help us put into practice some of the components that define the art of ignoring.


Our greatest fault is “postponing” happiness

In an intriguing article published in Psychology Today, it was found that people miss out on opportunities simply because they think that it’s not the right moment.

Check out this article: 
Bad vs. Good People: Those Who Bring Happiness

What makes us fall into the belief that “now is not the right time”?

  • The comments and criticism of others. For example, you’re not happy in your marriage, but your parents keep telling you to “hold out a little longer.”
  • Going along out of fear of disappointing others and even falling into that belief that things will change and happiness will appear overnight if only you hold it in for a little longer.

Happiness should never be postponed. If your heart and mind are telling you that something is wrong, it’s time to start ignoring everything else that tells you otherwise. Doing things requires courage.

Ignore criticism and hurtful comments

At first glance, it might seem easy enough to ignore criticism and hurtful remarks. In reality, it actually takes a lot of effort because it has a direct effect on our self-esteem.

  • The negative comments that affect us the most are the ones that come directly from someone you care about.
  • “How can I ignore what my family, spouse, or best friend is saying?” Well, to be clear: people who love you support your happiness and respect you.
  • Anyone who truly cares for you will never put up barriers to your personal growth, damage your self-esteem or belittle you with subtle sarcasm or language charged with contempt.

In these types of situations, ignoring the negative behavior of others is the most intelligent course of action.


It takes courage to recognize self-limiting beliefs

Sometimes your worst enemy exists only in your minds:

There are certain limiting attitudes and beliefs that we carry within us from our childhood or that are inherited from other people which can lead us to believe thoughts like “I don’t know how” or “I can’t”.

  • Sometimes, low self-esteem can take away the courage you need to start ignoring the people, situations, and things that cause you harm rather than bring happiness.
  • Personal insecurity is another common reason that often gets you into these dilemmas. For example, you might never dare to turn down an invitation to an event that you really don’t want to attend because you can’t ignore your fear of “looking bad.”

These are just several small examples, that when they accumulate, can become a central theme in your life,  making yourself subject to what others will say over your own desires. And that isn’t right!

Learning to ignore the things that don’t really matter is also the art of personal courage. It’s the conviction that in order to be happy, you will need to take the plunge and just say “NO.”


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.