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The stories we tell ourselves and the power of denial

 Photo Credit: Hoodicoff via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Hoodicoff via Compfight cc

The cards were out on the table, her friend was nodding assent in the background, urging me to go on: the writing was on the wall… to everyone BUT the client sitting in front of me.

Don’t get me wrong: I LOVED this client (still do!). I hated to see her in such pain. She’s a good person, believing that what you put out there you get back in return. But someone had taken her for granted, big time, and the only thing to do in the situation (at least according to the cards that were coming out) was to cut the cord.

My client shook her head. Made excuses. Made LOTS of excuses. Said she felt sorry for them and that she pitied them. Denied that this situation was affecting her life in a very heavy way, dragging her down to where even her joys felt weighted with the situation that she was avoiding dealing with and hoped would get better on its own.

I tried. I tried really hard, pulling card after card for clarification, not heeding my own lessons I’ve learned that tarot REALLY doesn’t like that when it’s already told you everything it knows and you don’t like the answers you’re seeing.

After awhile I said to her, “Listen, I know you don’t want to hear this….…and maybe you will come to it on your own terms. But this situation is not going away with avoidance. You will have to deal with it head-on, and I’m trying to save you the trouble of a blowout by saying the cards recommend dealing with this now, calmly and rationally, instead of waiting for the blowout that will happen if you let it fester.” I then attempted to find the “how” card (“how best to deal with this situation?”) and got an urgent card, a “sooner rather than later” card. It wasn’t about “how” anymore. The how was irrelevant. It was the “when”, and the “when” said NOW. RIGHT EFFING NOW.

The client was pretty subdued for the rest of her reading, even when we moved on to different topics. She wanted to be told by the tarot which topic was the most pressing, the most of a pivot point that needing tending to. She didn’t like the answer she got, because it was the one situation she was dreading the most.

Isn’t that always the way though? Asking to confirm our worst fears, and then finding we were right? Does it really help sometimes, knowing the “big bad” in our lives? I think it does, being of the mindset of “forewarned is forearmed.” [I speak more about this when I’ve talked about the Tower card and other “big baddy” cards of the tarot… don’t shoot the messenger, after all: pay attention to the message!]

This is also a reason I like reading for friends that are present for one another’s readings. Sometimes, people want a tarot reading to be a one-on-one experience: personal and wholly for themselves. They choose to speak of their readings to no one, or one to two very close friends to hash out the information gleaned from the cards. Other people, if they’re lucky, have close friends: so close that no situation is unknown or unspoken about. It is the latter situation that I’m talking about here.

When I spoke about the client’s conundrum, I used the Celtic Cross spread and did not know about the situation until a few cards in when the client asked pertinent questions and an intuitive conversation got started. Even before this, the friend was nodding from her couch as she read a book… she was listening the entire time, and knew what the cards were trying to say to her friend. Even before the clarification, it was so clear to her as an observer and witness to her friend’s life. She knew before the person in the chair did what the cards were speaking to, and what should probably be done now to alleviate the situation.

I don’t worry so much about that client. She’s got the backup of her friend that knows the score and will tell her the truth, even if it hurts. I try not to worry so much about any of my clients; not because I’m heartless (in fact, sometimes I care/worry too much, and think of my clients as my kids, even if they are older than me in age!), but because it is not my information, and it’s not my choice. I’m there to give the messages; they’re there to take them (or not) and do with them what they will (or not).

Ultimately, it comes down to how willing a person is to hear the story: the one that’s known to them, the one that they tell themselves, and the one that is unknown to them. Usually, the one that is unknown to them, and especially if it conflicts with the story they tell themselves, is the one that people have the most trouble with. Sometimes it may take weeks or even months before a person in deep denial will come back to me and say: “you were right about everything; I was just not ready to hear it.” Sometimes that may not happen at all, and I never hear from that person again. I try not to take that too personally either!

This tale about this client is not unusual… I’ve had many people shaking their head at me from across the table, and known in my gut not to press it. Stories are POWERFUL. It takes a lot to dismantle the incorrect ones, especially if you’ve been telling yourself the same ones for years.

Especially powerful are the stories that keep you from going crazy that you tell yourself when you are in survival mode. Usually, they are stories of denial, of convincing ourselves out of what we are feeling or intuiting so as not to deal with the ugly truth that sometimes rears its head. Denial is immeasurably powerful in those moments, but then so is the moment of truth that cuts through all that denial. I can’t bring a client there alone. They have to be willing to do the work of clearing the denial out of the way to let the truth be heard.


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3 Responses to The stories we tell ourselves and the power of denial

  1. Yi Xiang says:

    I know what it feels like to care too much. I once read for a woman who was financially dependent on her family after college, didn’t even try to get a job. I was like, what are you doing with your life! Get a job! Of course I kept these thoughts to myself. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s not my life, it’s not my responsibility.

    • Hilary says:

      Yi Xiang: yes, exactly. It can be frustrating to see someone stagnated and want to just tell them what to do… but if we tell them that, what kind of lessons are we saving them from learning themselves, and more deeply, by coming to those conclusions (or others) on their own? It’s not for us to judge; it’s for us to just read their cards. Thanks for reading!

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