And here we are, ready to discuss the final stage in the series of Blog posts treating affective and cognitive integration. If you are new to the Blog you may wish to review the previous posts where you will read about the various constituents of an Integrated Approach to Coaching, Counseling, and Psychotherapy. To those of you who have been following regularly, I once again say “Thank-you” for your support of my work and your own personal dedication to being the “best YOU you can be.”
I am now honored to share with you what I believe to be one of the most powerful dynamics that the Integrated Approach has to offer. It is actually a concept that comes to us by way of philosophy and spirituality, which says a lot about how valuable these disciplines are to psychology, and why integration is so necessary.
This dynamic and stage is known as Transcendence, which we can define as: “A dynamic and stage of personal integration through which one comes to a sense of overall understanding and higher meaning regarding one’s life experiences and ultimate purpose.”
What I hope to capture with the dynamic and stage of Transcendence is the idea that we come to a place in our lives when things begin to make more sense than ever before. We begin to think of life as happening less “to us” and more “through us” as higher meanings and purposes are revealed.
For example, we see many trauma survivors (myself included) who arrive at a place in therapy where they are not only able to accept what happened to them, but also embrace what happened to them. Many go as far as to say that they would not change what happened because the advancements made in life overall pale in comparison to the suffering that was endured.
One caveat here: This is not to say that trauma is encouraged, or that what was done was morally or ethically acceptable. Likewise, this does not absolve any perpetrator of wrongdoing. We like to say that it “is not an excuse, but an explanation” of how the experiences affected us in our lives, and how we can make them as asset versus a liability as we move forward with Resilience and ultimately to Transcendence.
Please allow me to share a brief narrative regarding how I and many others have come to apply Transcendence to challenging situations we have faced in our lives:
“While we do not wish to repeat difficult and painful experiences, we are deeply thankful for the process of healing that we were able to engage because of them. We honestly believe that they have made us stronger, and that they have helped us refine our understandings regarding meaning and purpose in our lives.”
This is one way that we can experience Transcendence. Let’s consider one additional aspect of this dynamic and stage.
Many of us believe that we are more than a body, or even a mind. While we may not yet be able to fully prove this via our currently limited and still primitive scientific methods, we “know that we know” that there is something more. We call it a Soul, and we believe that it is who and what we truly are at the most transcendent level.
Hence, Transcendence can become a way through which we can approach past, present, and future in a way that makes room for spiritual possibilities. We begin to think and feel in ways that include philosophical and theological considerations.
We then examine these matters in unison with the understandings gleaned from psychology, which has given rise to the concept of psychospirituality (i.e. the integration of psychology and spirituality). For me, this makes perfect sense in that many (if not most) people do have some form of belief system that plays a significant role in their daily lives. Hence, no comprehensive healing modality can ignore or neglect this very important aspect of personal existence.
I leave you with a quote for Transcendence:
“In times of great struggle, I remind myself that some of the most difficult occurrences in my life were actually powerful moments of necessary transition and awakening. Hence, I no longer judge a ‘happening’ until its fruits begin to manifest. What seems ‘bad’ may actually reveal itself as ultimately very ‘good’ over time. I remain open to all possibilities and invite them to speak through all of my experiences.”