The cards can teach us a little something about the value of standing back, taking a deep breath and observing any given situation with a certain degree of detachment. It's difficult to do. I know it definitely is for me. I'm a passionate, fiery person, a tad over-sensitive at times and with an unhelpfully fatalistic attitude over a lot of things. On top of that, there are a hundred other legitimate reasons why it's tough for me to play the impartial observer in my own life, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't occasionally try. Just taking yourself temporarily out of your own shoes, either to look at the issue from someone else's point of view or to get a broader perspective so you can work things out from afar is mightily helpful when you feel as though life is dramatically collapsing around your ears.
No doubt you've heard it said that one is 'too close to something' to see it for what it is? That expression 'too close to it' is used to describe a point of view that's going to be inevitably biased or skewed owing to the degree of emotional investment that renders the subject unable to be unbiased. That's why people go to therapists or seek the counsel of other people who are not directly involved, right? So that we're gaining the benefit of a more impartial, detached perspective. If we took only our own advice all the time, we'd be self-centred, ignorant, impossible to reason with. No doubt you know a couple of people like this who only trust themselves and fail to listen to other ideas or solutions. They're a pain in the proverbial arse. No one wants to be thought of as that person! So which messages can Tarot offer to help when you feel that you're enmeshed so much into one aspect of your life that it's impossible to free your mind just enough to get a grip on it?
Well, the Major Arcana is full of reassurance and direction. A few of my favourite cards for perspective are Temperance, The Hermit and The Wheel of Fortune.
Temperance is about balance, moderation and spiritual clarity. Centre yourself. Give yourself time. Stress achieves nothing. It feels like forward motion because your mind is constantly fixated on the issue. That must be helpful, right? Wrong. Stress leads to serious cases of head-burying, procrastination and unnecessary meltdowns. What you need to do with immediate effect is give yourself some space to breathe. Stop. Reflect. Consider. Listen to your heart, your mind, your instincts unfettered by emotional loyalties, social pressures or false assumptions. Draw on your deepest inner strengths. Let the power flow through you, from you and back to you, harnessing it and then releasing it into the universe. Value yourself enough to understand that if you lose your mind you'll only succeed in being unable to think straight. That leaves you open to the selfish advantage of others with impure motivations, as well as pushing you further into the mire of panic, which doesn't aid a long-term solution in any way and may make you lose your hair.
The Hermit is the card of isolation and deep thought, but remember, this message is a double-sided coin and the other side is equally important because it's there to remind you that you can only listen to your own inner voice for so long before you'll need to rejoin your camp and allow yourself the benefit of the general consensus. Decide whose opinions are important and how much of them you actually require. Choose your guides appropriately. Who else is too close to the situation to see clearly? Whose advice comes with a hidden agenda? Is it time to remove yourself from the fray and observe the conflict from the top of a mountain somewhere? Your inner wisdom and the benefit of your experience is always within you, all you need to do is be brave enough to tap into it. If there's drama all around you, quieten the sound by moving away from it and turning up the volume button on your own intuition. Then, when you feel more certain in your own desires and viewpoints, return to the situation newly replenished with self-knowledge. Anyone who would seek to prevent you from doing this is suffering from a lack of basic respect for you. You should never be made to feel bad for taking a rain check.
The Wheel of Fortune should be seen as a steering wheel. It's the steering wheel of your life, and fate wants to drive for a while. You are reluctant to let fate take the wheel because you'll have to relinquish control and admit to yourself that sometimes, even with the best of intentions, things are just going to unfold the way they will in spite of you. This realisation makes you feel small, unable, hurtling through the void at lightning speed, unable to grab onto anything. This thought is scary as hell, but why should it be? Surely, once we've let go of the wheel we will enjoy an intrinsic understanding of our own insignificance, which will permeate into all areas of our lives, allowing us to understand that we are not the masters of the universe but are in fact linked up to everything else in an unstoppable cycle of ups and downs..? Ok, so it's a bit too deep to be helpful, but scale it down a bit and you'll glean the benefit of the message - you can only do so much. Sometimes you'll be laughing all the way to the bank, sometimes you'll be outside the bank on the pavement in the rain. Some emotional investments will pay out big time, sometimes they'll wane despite the potential they initially seemed to promise. There will be tears before bedtime, but in the morning there'll be sun.. Basically, see the bad times as just as much a part of the process as the good times, and come to appreciate how they both combine to make up the unique pattern of your life.
Check out the four suits of the Minor Arcana for additional advice which can be geared more towards specific themes. For example, The Four of Pentacles holds another great message about the importance of allowing fate to do its thing. Just because material things can be seen and held onto doesn't mean we don't still risk losing them, even by some freak accident or by virtue of the way things shift on the scale of importance over time. Don't suffer sleepless nights over work and money concerns. Do what you can rather than wasting time attempting the impossible and berating yourself for being unable to achieve it. The Ace of Wands can remind you that there's a light at the end of the tunnel - the chance for a fresh beginning if you're brave enough to see the current situation through and break out to new ground. The Six of Swords is a sobering reminder that one day what you're going through now probably be a distant memory. All things pass into the comforting annals of time. The Four of Cups holds an important lesson on embracing the here and now, not dwelling so much on the past that we're rendered unable to get a firm grip on the present.
Of course, I'm not saying it's self-indulgent or pointless to focus on your issues and feel concern over them. Naturally, if I believed that I wouldn't be touting the value of Tarot therapy! But perspective is part of the healing process and it goes a long way towards problem solving, rather than merely going grey whilst staying in one place! Perspective is often the very first brick in the wall of the house we're building.