How to Control the Ego and Forgive Others

At the heart of every conflict is at least one or two outsized egos. These egos tear families apart,  break up lovers,  ruin friendships, and turn strangers into enemies.  So how did we get here? Why do we have these egos? Are our egos protecting us or hurting ourselves and our relationships?

In this podcast episode (subscribe here ), I talk about how we can forgive without getting hurt again, love without limits or fear, and trust without getting taken advantage of. The more we grow in mindfulness, the smaller our ego gets, and the easier it becomes to set down our baggage of pride, anger and resentment.

***If you prefer reading to listening, here’s the transcript of this podcast***

Ego And Forgiveness

To feel negativity towards someone else is no different from feeling negatively. It is the same feeling whether it is outward-focused or inwardly. So the first step, once we realize this baggage that we’re carrying with us that is weighing us down, is to look at why we are holding on to anger.

Usually, when we look closely at this attachment to that feeling of righteousness and superiority, and facing injustice, it makes us feel good and it makes us feel right.

Most importantly, it makes us feel safe. What we find when we look at our anger that we hold onto is that it actually comes from fear, fear of being vulnerable, fear of being hurt.

So we think subconsciously that if we put up this wall of anger and resistance, we will repel that person like two magnets facing opposite polarities. We think that we will be in danger if we let go of that anger; we think we will be taken advantage of.

Typically, this stems from as early as childhood when we are in conflict with our peers or parents. We are figuring out the world and trying to understand how to be safe and protect ourselves from those early childhood memories when we were hurt.

Oftentimes, we may forgive someone and give them a second chance, and they take advantage of us again, they hurt us again. And it reaffirms this tendency to put up these walls, hold on to anger and resentment for dear life.

But the problem is, we learned the wrong lesson. The lesson wasn’t that we need to forgive and invite in. The lesson was that we need to forgive and protect ourselves. That’s the end of it.

That’s the important part because we have the wisdom to be at peace yet alert. This is the skill of mindfulness. This is the practice and what we can develop when we practice being present. Instead of losing ourselves in the present moment to our thoughts and emotions, we remain clear-headed and also in a perfectly relaxed state. We are not carrying in any anger or resentments; we don’t even have to keep in our minds the hurtful thing that was done to us. We can set all of that aside and know that here’s a person who I am holding anger onto, and I have the ability to let it go.

To understand on a higher level, on a deeper level, that here’s a person who has been hurtful. That is the truth of the matter. We don’t know if this is a fundamentally hurtful person, or if this person will always be hurtful. But what we do know is that this person has hurt us. So we are hanging on to this toxic anger.

We can put down the anger. We can maintain the awareness. There are two techniques that I would like to talk about that really help us understand this relaxed yet alert state that we want to be in.

Technique 1) How to Control the Ego and Forgive Others

The first one is meditation. We are not sleeping; we are sitting with a straight back, fully awake, fully alert, fully aware of every thought, feeling, and sensation that we experience. Yet, we are also completely relaxed; we are in deep peace.

We are in this kind of state where we are relaxing to the point where we could be sleeping, but we are focusing on our breath or on our mantra with a very vibrant alertness. We straddle that middle path between alert and relaxed, and we don’t want to be too relaxed and get into lazy territory. We don’t want to be too alert, where we’re stressed and agitated.

We want to really be on that middle path. So, meditation, simply focusing on something in a deeply still, quiet setting, is how we can navigate that straddling act between openness, forgiveness, caution, and safety.

It’s kind of like level one for humans, being naive and trusting everyone.

Then we get to that level where now we’re cautious and overly careful. We’re quick to toss people out of our lives forever, and certain we should never forgive them.

Then we reach that level three, where we realize that that closed-minded, certain, closed-off, overprotective mindset is suffocating. It is creating problems in our lives that manifest as troubled relationships, isolation, and loneliness.

All that stress can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic pain, and so much more. And as we get older and we learn to trust ourselves more, we are able to take a leap and start to experiment. Are we still our wisest when we forgive? Are we going to make mistakes or be too trusting if we let go of that anger? Or can we love everyone without putting ourselves in danger? Can we open our hearts to every single person on this planet without giving up our safety?

The more we practice mindfulness and meditation, the more we do see that when we are present, when we have let go of the story in our head, the mental baggage, the emotional baggage, we will discover that we can see clearer than with the anger, that we are wiser and more conscientious of what to do in each moment when we are present and responding thoughtfully and consciously to each moment. We just have to recognize how this resentment and grudge tendency began.

We can start to unweave that tendency, and it really is easy to undo that conditioning. Because as soon as you look at that anger and resentment, as soon as you notice that there’s physical tension in your body because of it, and the moment you notice that it does no good, only harm, we begin the healing journey. Because this unconscious reaction of anger is being met with the light of consciousness, and insanity and ignorance cannot survive the Light of Consciousness; only unconsciously are we acting irrationally, only unconsciously would we generate our own suffering.

So the moment we bring our consciousness, our awareness, and an intention to that grudge is the moment it starts to lift; we just have to turn our attention towards it so that our higher wisdom can be brought in.

Become Your Own Therapist

Join The 10,000 Mental Steps Challenge

Technique 2) How to Control the Ego and Forgive Others

The second technique for dealing with these long-held resentments and anger is to start a practice of acceptance and moving forward.

These two words can almost be your mantra, or three words: acceptance, moving forward. These two steps are really what spirituality is all about. The more we make second nature our ability to accept whatever is happening and then move forward, without attachment to that moment, without resistance to that moment, so you can be present for the next moment, accept, move forward, make peace with what is and then set it down.

What this looks like in our daily life is simply recognizing that it is more important to be where you are than it is to be with where you were or to live in where you hope to be one day. All grudges are from the past, and they do not exist in the present moment. Whenever we are feeling anger, we check in with ourselves. We take a deep breath, we let out that stress, and we come back to the here and now.

Every part of our perceptual awareness is an opportunity to dive deeper into the present moment. If there is a table or chair nearby you can touch, then you can put your focus on the sensations of your fingertips. If there are sounds, you can try to listen without labeling and to just hear the nuance and subtlety that lie in the sounds without analyzing it.

Similarly, we can look without thinking; everything, if there is something to look at, which there usually is, unless you’re in deep space without a suit on, there is an opportunity to just notice that dance of light reflecting off of each object.

The more we practice, the more it becomes a habit. The more it becomes a habit, the more it becomes second nature, and we are just living in this space of presence. We can literally be confronted by that person who hurt us. We can say whatever needs to be said with no inner stress or anxiety.

We can speak clearly, calmly, in a way that is most well-received by the other person because we are thoughtful, mindful, and compassionate. We have left our anger aside. We, on a deep, intuitive level, can have all of that wisdom from our experience within us. Where we know that while we may not wish to spend time with this person or invite them into our homes, there is also no ill will, no conflict, and no anger. Simply the joy of living is all that remains because we are present. We are not conceptualizing every experience and situation as good or bad.

So everything can be the miraculous play of forms, constantly changing matter to energy, energy to matter, things getting older and breaking apart as others, other things become created and reborn in the dust. We are just lucky to witness it. Now, on our path to this permanent state of presence, there is going to be that ego popping up, trying to control us, trying to convince us that it is us, that it is our true inner voice, our highest wisdom, even though it says absolutely crazy things. It will try to suck us back into the thinking trap.

That ego trap where it tells us how great we are and how horrible the other person was. How dare they, do they even know who I am? Do they know who they’re dealing with? All that big ego pride stuff. There really is no better way to control that ego and to forgive others and extend compassion towards them than by practicing to experience the universe through oneness and to recognize that light of consciousness that is within you, that spark of life, that energy that was passed down from the first single-celled organism all the way in an unbroken chain to us. That energy has been passed down.

It is the exact same energy that animates my body and your body, and everything that ever lived and ever will live on this planet. Without this life force energy, this force of nature guiding us into evolution and guiding us with our thoughts and intuition, it is the same in all of us. The only difference between any living thing is the shape of the thing, the shape of the brain, and the experiences that that life form has had.

As we recognize that, we discover that we are not responsible for the shape and functioning of our brain, or the experiences we have in life that shape us. So to be angry at someone else is to be angry at yourself if you ever found yourself in their shoes. Simultaneously, to forgive and to love is to love yourself.

When you extend that compassion, you are extending compassion to yourself, who grew up with maybe less fortunate luck, whose genetics weren’t quite the same as yours, whose upbringing may not have been as ideal as yours. I mean, just the fact that you are listening to this podcast says that you care about kindness, you care about compassion, and being a good person.

Not everyone was fortunate enough to grow up with that Guiding Light. So when we see ourselves and others who don’t have that north star to guide them, we can either hate them, be mad at them, angry, resentful, and hold a grudge our entire life. Or we can open our hearts, lend a hand in the way that we would hope someone would do for us if we were lost.

We can know that when the world exists to heal each other’s trauma, instead of condemning people less fortunate, pretty soon we will just live in a world full of people spreading positivity and joy, that will find its way back to us tenfold.

The key is not to try to control the ego because we will only be controlling it with the ego. So it will only be an illusion of control. But what we can do is identify with that consciousness inside of us, that conscious presence, we sense the essence of within us and understand and recognize that essence in others.

As we do this, that ego whose whole mission was to convince us that it was our true self, diminishes the more we look at who we really are and the true nature of ourselves, simultaneously seeing it in others. It shrinks because we have expanded our conscious perception of who we are.

Once we’ve seen that truth, then the ego no longer controls us. And that’s how we control the ego.

Digital Ego: Undoing the Damage of the Digital Age book, explores the nature of our newfound digital egos, what affect they are having on us, and how we can break free from them so we can live more fully, more authentically, and with more meaning and joy.

Digital ego book todd perelmuter

How to Rise Above Our Ego