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Integration across time
Integration across time is a concept that refers to how people connect their past, present and future selves into a coherent and meaningful identity. It is closely related to Self-transcendence, which is the ability to go beyond one’s immediate Self-interest and Ego-Boundaries, and to embrace a broader Perspective that includes other people, nature and the cosmos. In this article, we will explore the link between Integration across time and Self-transcendence, and how they can enhance wellbeing, creativity and Wisdom. We will also discuss some practical ways to cultivate these qualities in everyday life.
The link between Integration across time and Self-transcendence
One of the most intriguing questions in psychology is how people develop a sense of identity and Purpose in life. Some researchers have suggested that Integration across time, or the ability to connect one’s past, present and future selves, is a key factor in fostering Self-transcendence, or the feeling of being part of something larger than oneself. In this section, we explore the link between Integration across time and Self-transcendence, drawing on theoretical and empirical evidence from various fields. We propose a model that explains how Integration across time can promote Self-transcendence through enhancing Coherence, continuity and direction in one’s life story. We also discuss the implications of our model for enhancing well-being and Meaning in life.
Theoretical and empirical evidence
One possible way to draw on theoretical and empirical evidence to explore the link between Integration across time and Self-transcendence is to examine how people narrate their life stories.
According to Reischer et al. (2021), Self-transcendence is the phenomenon of experiencing one’s self as expanding both backward and forward in time, feeling connected to all of humanity, the earth, and the cosmos, and turning toward existential concerns such as the Meaning of life and future death. They argue that Self-transcendence is associated with positive outcomes such as wellbeing, optimism, Self-esteem, and life Purpose. By analysing the life narratives of adults in their late 50s and early 60s, they identified six elements of Self-transcendence: closure, interconnectedness, cosmic Connection, temporal Integration, existential Reflection, and symbolic immortality. These elements reflect how people integrate their past, present, and future selves into a coherent and meaningful whole that transcends their individual existence.
Model that explains how Integration across time can promote Self-transcendence
One possible model that explains how Integration across time can promote Self-transcendence through enhancing Coherence, continuity and direction in one’s life story is based on the idea of narrative identity. Narrative identity is the internalized and evolving story of the self that a person constructs to make sense of their life experiences.
According to this model, Integration across time involves linking past, present and future events in a meaningful way that reflects one’s values, goals and identity. By integrating across time, a person can achieve Coherence, which is the sense of consistency and clarity in one’s life story; continuity, which is the sense of stability and Connection across different life phases; and direction, which is the sense of Purpose and progress in one’s life journey. These three aspects of Integration can foster Self-transcendence, which is the ability to transcend one’s personal concerns and connect with something larger than oneself, such as a higher power, a collective cause or a universal value. Self-transcendence can enhance one’s wellbeing, resilience and growth. Therefore, this model suggests that Integration across time can promote Self-transcendence through enhancing Coherence, continuity and direction in one’s life story.
Practical ways to cultivate Self-transcendence via Integration across time
Some practical ways to cultivate Integration across time are:
- Reflecting on one’s personal history and identifying the key events, people and values that have shaped one’s identity and goals.
- Engaging in activities that foster a sense of presence and mindfulness, such as meditation, yoga, breathing exercises or nature walks.
- Imagining one’s desired future and setting realistic and attainable steps to achieve it.
- Expressing Gratitude for the opportunities and challenges that have led one to where one is today and for the potential that lies ahead.
- Seeking feedback and guidance from others who share one’s vision and values or who have achieved similar goals.
- Celebrating one’s achievements and milestones, both big and small, and recognizing how they contribute to one’s growth and fulfilment.
By integrating across time, one can enhance one’s Sense of self-worth, agency and direction, as well as cultivate a broader Perspective that transcends the limitations of the Ego and embraces the interconnectedness of all beings.
If you are interested in learning more about how Integration across time can promote Self-transcendence, here are some weblinks to articles that discuss this topic:
Six Research-Based Elements of Self-transcendence: This article from Psychology Today summarizes the findings of a study that analysed the life narratives of adults who experienced Self-transcendence. It identifies six themes that characterize Self-transcendence, such as temporal Integration, existential Awareness, and symbolic immortality.
Self-transcendence – an overview: This chapter from the Handbook of Multicultural Mental Health provides a comprehensive overview of the concept of Spirituality and its relation to Self-transcendence. It also discusses the cultural and developmental factors that influence Spirituality and Self-transcendence.
What is Self-transcendence? Definition and 6 Examples: This article from Positive Psychology explains the definition and benefits of Self-transcendence. It also provides six examples of how to practice Self-transcendence in daily life, such as meditation, Altruism, and creativity.
Self-transcendence: This Wikipedia entry gives a brief introduction to the concept of Self-transcendence and its dimensions. It also lists some theories and measures of Self-transcendence from various disciplines, such as psychology, sociology, and nursing.