You need to love your “self” before you can transcend it.

Many spiritual communities emphasize transcending the “self” or “ego.” The notion is often coming from a place of wisdom and compassion, but it can cause great harm without further explanation and individual tailoring.

Transcending the self might be very compelling to someone who has had a complicated relationship to their self. Maybe there has been great pain, trauma, tragedy, and the idea of transcending all of this seems like the promise for peace.

So, what often happens in these situations is when this person experiences a negative emotion or pain, there’s the sense that they must “rise above” this. Subsequently, people will numb, will give off a faux-niceness to seem “peaceful” and “not angry,” or repeatedly deny/suppress the difficult parts of their “self.”

Well, the process of transcending the self doesn’t come from denying it; it comes from making peace with it. It comes from seeing through the illusion of it. It comes from a deep understanding of all the ways the mind creates a sense of self in each moment. This requires meeting, being with, and seeing clearly all aspects of your experience.

So even if the self is illusory, bypassing the hard process of cultivating that wisdom and staying with the pain is actually another form of reinforcing the self, and just leads to further inauthenticity and disconnection.

Instead of trying to transcend the self, work to make peace with your self.