What is a Transcendent Character?

Before diving into the development of a transcendent character, it’s important to know the meaning of such a phrase. To transcend literally means “to rise above or go beyond.” Placed in context of our character, it describes the act of moving beyond the moments, feelings, or issues that hold us back.
Possessing a transcendent character is not reserved for the elite. It can be achieved by anyone, so long as we open ourselves up to developing skills that will help us move forward and beyond. Below are just a few practices that we can learn and hone to help us become better versions of ourselves.

Embracing a New Sense of Purpose and Meaning

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

-Viktor E. Frankyl

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
—Lewis B. Smedes

When we think of forgiveness, we often view it as a “gift” given to someone who has committed some sort of offense or wrongdoing toward us. Yet there are two-fold benefits that come when we forgive another person. One side of the fold helps the forgiven. The other side features the ways offering forgiveness can help ourselves.

It takes a lot of energy to hold a grudge. Even when our anger is justified, allowing resentment to build within our hearts only compounds the pain the offense has caused us. So long as we carry our negative feelings with us, we are burdened by them.

Forgiving someone is not minimizing or pardoning what they have done. It doesn’t automatically offer a free pass that says whatever wrongdoing you’ve endured was okay. However, forgiveness is a conscious choice to let go of the pain it has caused in you and in your life—and move forward.

Often, this task is easier said than done. Whether you are seeking forgiveness for another, in another, or even from yourself, it can be a process. Some ways people find their way to forgiveness is by:

  • Understanding why the person who wronged you did what they did
  • Empathizing with the individual who wronged you
  • Talking through the issue that needs forgiving with the person at fault
  • Leaning on spiritual teachings for guidance and understanding
  • Reflecting on the negative consequences that come with holding a grudge against the other individual
  • Taking actions toward repairing or moving on from relationships damaged by the offense

Every situation is different. Sometimes forgiveness comes easily. Sometimes it takes time and considerable effort. However, it only happens after you make the conscious decision to work through the consequences and emotions caused by what has happened to you. If you find it difficult to move beyond the anger, bitterness, grief, or emotional distress caused by wrongdoing, you may find yourself benefiting from counseling provided by a mental health professional.

Know that not only is this okay, it’s a great advantage. Counseling offers clients a safe place to voice their thoughts and pain over events they’re having trouble working through. It’s also a place to receive insight from someone outside of your situation who understands and can empathize with what you’re going through.

Are you ready to start on the path to forgiveness?

“People, upon rationally determining that they have been unfairly treated, forgive when they willfully abandon resentment and related responses (to which they have a right), and endeavor to respond to the wrongdoer based on the moral principle of beneficence, which may include compassion, unconditional worth, generosity, and moral love (to which the wrongdoer, by nature of the hurtful act or acts, has no right).”
—Enright & Fitzgibbons (2000)

“Resilience refers to a class of phenomena characterized by good outcomes in spite of serious threats to adaptation or development. Research on resilience aims to understand the processes that account for these good outcomes.”
—Masten & Coats (1998)

Resiliency is a form of strength that allows us to endure, even when life gets difficult. While there are some individuals we’ll meet in life who are innately resilient, most of us find it to be a learned skill, honed by our experiences.

Resilience doesn’t make life easier, per se. However, it does characterize certain decisions, perspectives, and skills that allow you to handle even life’s most challenging curve balls, and come out stronger for them.

Resilience can be formed through:

  • Fostering and maintaining a positive view of yourself and what you are capable of achieving
  • Developing emotional intelligence
  • Learning to communicate openly and well, especially when things grow difficult
  • Abandoning a victim mentality for the determination to overcome
  • Actively creating realistic plans and following through with them

Even in the hardest of times, the human spirit often shows remarkable resilience. With the right guidance, you can build upon this trait and take control of your life in ways you may have never known possible.

Empathy has been defined as, “A vicarious emotional experience in which you feel and understand what another person feels.” This trait involves more than just adapting your perspective. It’s a two-fold act that includes understanding how a person feels and being capable of feeling what they’re feeling.

What does empathy look like? It’s feeling and understanding someone’s sadness when they’re depressed, or being able to perceive and share joy with another individual when they achieve something they consider significant in their life.

The Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy
It’s easy to confuse empathy with sympathy. Sympathy is only half of the empathy equation because it only encompasses your emotional reaction. You can feel bad about a friend losing their pet, but you may not understand their sadness. This is an act of sympathy.

Empathy allows you to relate to another’s struggle. It’s an important trait when building relationships with others. Those who develop empathy are often more compassionate and connect better with others. Empathy is also a cornerstone to many other traits, including forgiveness and resilience.