Messages from the cosmos.

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Cosmic Counsel: How to Deal With Difficult Family Members

Cosmic Counsel is my monthly feature where I ask the cards for advice on tough problems, relevant real-life issues, and existential questions.


While we’re on the topic of the Inner Child, let’s talk about how your Inner Child comes to be – family.  Some of us were lucky enough to be born into very happy families and so have much less to deal with and work through, but others weren’t so lucky.

Maybe you have severe conflict with one or both of your parents. Or maybe you just have that one sibling, cousin, aunt or uncle who always pushes your buttons. Because your family unit is the first set of people you’re born into, it’s really difficult to set boundaries without feeling guilty.

Navigating family relationships can be fraught with complications and difficult emotions, and many people are loath to cut a family member out of their life like they would if a friend or acquaintance was treating them the same way.

So how to deal? Let’s pull some cards.
 

This Month’s Question: How to deal with difficult family members.

(featured deck: Wild Unknown Tarot)
 

1. 6 of Pentacles

6 of pentacles wild unknown tarot

The 6 of Pentacles is a card of exchanges. One person who has more gives to the person who has less. I see this card as generosity and sharing what you have. The first line of defense against a difficult person is diplomacy. What motivates this particular family member? What do they want? When someone is being difficult or frustrating, it’s usually because they have some need that’s not getting met.

See if you can grease the wheels a bit by doing something that will make the person happy, and then maybe they will lay off of you. This doesn’t mean to bend over backwards and cross your own boundaries, but if there is something you genuinely can give freely to this person without resentment, then go ahead and do it. Make them happy and then perhaps they will reciprocate.

Do this without making demands or putting pressure on the person to give you want in return. This strategy most likely won’t yield immediate results, but the goal is to relieve some of the tension by taking on a charitable attitude. It’s also the gentlest approach and the least likely to backfire and cause even more problems.

 

2. Page of Swords

page of swords wild unknown tarot

I see the Page of Swords as honesty, frank discussion, and putting your feelings out in the open. When you’re dealing with someone toxic, the temptation is to walk on eggshells and keep your opinions to yourself in over to avoid the backlash of dealing with the person’s anger or retaliation.

However, suppressing your own thoughts and feelings is damaging to you. When you’re dealing with a difficult person, spell out very clearly in words what they are doing to hurt you, how you would like to be treated, and what your expectations are for the relationship. Be very forward and frank. This leaves no room for error or misunderstandings in the future.

Vague, unstated boundaries usually produce vague, nebulous relationships where people can take advantage of you and then claim they didn’t know how you felt.

In dealings with toxic people, leave no room for interpretation in how you feel about their behavior. Draw your line in the sand, either by talking to them directly, or if that’s too explosive, write them a letter or an email. Communicate and spell things out.

 

3. 5 of Swords

five of swords wild unknown tarot

If the above strategies don’t work, you can always admit defeat. The 5 of Swords is a difficult card, but the lesson in it is that some battles can’t be won. If engaging in negotiations, endless conversations, and even arguments with this person feels like the never-ending merry-go-round in hell, feel free to jump off. You don’t have to stay on the ride any longer than you have to.

Walking away may not feel good, because family members are usually people you have the deepest emotional investment in, but cutting your losses is preferable to suffering from abuse.

Recognize that not every person is a good person; not everyone can change or have empathy, and not everyone shares your values – even if you share the same blood. It’s a painful lesson for sure,but one better learned sooner rather than later.

 

4. Knight of Cups

knight of cups wild unknown tarot

As a final piece of advice, I see the Knight of Cups as someone dreamy and idealistic, someone who puts people on a pedestal. This one seems to be saying check your ideals at the door.

Do you have unrealistic expectations about who this person is? Are your ideas about family interfering with you seeing reality clearly for it is? Are you getting your hopes up in a situation only to be let down repeatedly? Are you selectively paying attention to only the good sides of this person without looking at the big picture?

Check to see how you are contributing to the unhealthy dynamic, not by being toxic and disruptive yourself, but by putting on rose-colored glasses about how this person is. Make sure that your attachments and emotional sensitivities are not running the show.

Seeking love, connection, understanding, and approval from someone who cannot give it to you is always bound to backfire.
 
That’s all I got for this round! Hopefully some piece of advice in here will help you navigate the thorny family relationships that so many of us got saddled with.

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Introducing Your Inner Child Tarot Spread

inner child work tarot spread

The below tarot spread is meant to be an introductory point for getting intimately acquainted with your Inner Child. It focuses on analyzing the personality traits of your inner child so that you understand yourself on a deeper level.


Introducing Your Inner Child Tarot Spread

1. Your inner child’s hopes & fears

This position describes unconscious fears and/or hopes that should be addressed and put into perspective for you to function healthily.

2. An area of life your inner child causes trouble in

Where and how is your inner child stumbling or insecure? What issue is painful for you to look at because you’ve always been sensitive in this area? What is your inner child worried about?

3. How to nurture your inner child in that area

What is the adult perspective that will hold your inner’s child hand and reassure them that everything will be okay?

4. Where to set limits on your inner child

What immature tendencies do you need to set boundaries on? This is where your inner child wants firm discipline.

5. Where to let your inner child run free

What childlike tendencies should you set free? What do you judge or shun about your inner child that you need to be softer about?

6. Gifts that will arise from understanding your inner child

What potential positives will you observe when you understand, nurture, and comfort your inner child?

 

If you tried the spread and want to discuss the cards you pulled for the personality of your inner child, please leave a comment!

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4 Benefits of Understanding Your Inner Child

benefits of inner child work

 

When I first read about the idea of the “Inner Child,” the notion that there was a little kid inside of me throwing tantrums and demanding love felt a bit self-indulgent. But after going through a rough period where I really did have to consider how my childhood has influenced my adult life, I decided the concept of the Inner Child is pretty worthwhile and sensible to think about. And it works.

So what positives can you expect from Inner Child Work?
 

1. Reconciling childish qualities with the grown-up, adult you.

Children possess a myriad of traits and impulses that they outgrow as they get older. However, life is limited, so not every immature tendency has enough exposure to life experience for you to grow out of them. Aspects of your personality are still operating at 5 years old, or 10, or 12 or whatever. Inner child work illuminates what behaviors are still emerging from the younger you, and not the you of today.

 

2. Putting painful childhood experiences in perspective.

If you’ve had a traumatic childhood, you still have memories that haunt you and color your perspective on life in a negative way. If you ruminate on past experiences and are mourning the ideal childhood you never had OR if you minimize how bad things were as a way to cope, you will grow from inner child work.

For example, maybe your childhood relationship with your parents influences your relationships now, and you reenact destructive patterns you had with them because it feels familiar. Your subconscious mind is pulling the puppet strings instead of the adult you consciously selecting your experiences. This gets frustrating when you feel like you’re dating some version of your parents over and over!

Inner Child work takes a look at past experiences so you can process them, let go, and construct your future from a decisive state of mind instead of from subconscious, past trauma.

 

3. Reclaiming suppressed strengths and abilities.

As a child, you absorb from authority figures how to behave and who you should be. You downplay certain aspects of your personality and play up others to become socially acceptable. You mold yourself to suit your authority figures, and internalize the projections of adults as a way to please.

However, some repressed qualities are critical elements of who you are and would really enrich your adult life if you were aware of them.

I read a story of a woman recently whose father was always telling her that she was the “creative” one and her sister was the “intelligent” one, so she always believed she was stupid. She consistently flunked out of school. When she was in her 40’s, she went back to college after doing some inner child work & realizing the role of the underachiever kept her eternally unhappy. She earned excellent grades, and found out later she always had a high IQ, but her father’s issues and emotional abuse kept her in the dark about her innate intelligence.

Inner Child work restores hidden gems inside of you that were stolen, dismissed or denied by your primary authority figured. You will have more courage, strength, and individuality because you’ll be a more whole you.

 

4. Clearing up destructive fears, defense mechanisms, and beliefs that are clouding your mind.

As human beings, we long to make sense of the world, including when we are children. However, as kids we don’t have a mature adult perspective, so the explanations we tell ourselves are inaccurate. Some of those beliefs and defense mechanisms have survived into your adult life to your detriment.

For example, my childhood life was chaotic and my parents were neglectful. I observed very quickly if I needed help, I wouldn’t get it, so I should shoulder all my burdens on my own. This carried me through my childhood, but it’s crippling in adult life.

What explanations are you still clinging to from childhood that just don’t make sense? What instinctive behavior is costing you adult success?

Inner Child Work puts the adult you at the helm, not the child you.

Essentially inner child work is parenting yourself in the ways that were vital but absent in your childhood. You are becoming responsible for yourself.

Of course the Tarot is a great way to get to know your inner child, so I’ll be inviting you to try a spread on your inner child’s personality in an upcoming post.

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Moving On Tarot Spread

moving on from a relationship tarot spread
****Purchase this reading in my shop, here.****

The breakup of a cherished relationship is an incredibly painful experience. It takes weeks, months, and even years for some people to get over. The spread is meant to provide insight and encouragement through the grieving and moving on process, hopefully speeding it up a bit so you can feel better. Whether is the breakup over a romantic relationship, the loss of a friendship, or the epiphany that a family relationship just isn’t working out anymore, any painful parting is appropriate for the spread.


Moving On From A Relationship Spread

1. Why the relationship ended

In case you forgot, this is why the relationship was no good for you. Points out the main issue behind the breakup. What was this person doing that was just incompatible with you as a person?

2. Baggage you’re still carrying

Fears, beliefs, and old memories with this person that are best left in the past. Stop dwelling, and let go of this.

3. Why you find it hard to move on

What the main issue blocking you from forgetting about this person?

4. Lessons learned to remember

If you look back on the relationship, you at least learned this thing. Wisdom to carry into the future from this relationship.

5. Why it’s good they’re gone

Something to appreciate about the relationship ending. A positive thing you have in your life now that you didn’t and couldn’t have while the relationship was going on. Or problems they were causing for you that no longer exist.

6. How to learn to love again

How not to close off your heart to new relationships. Keep doing this, even though it may be scary.

7. Hopeful advice for the future

Encouraging advice for hope, optimism, and looking forward to a brighter day.

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Why I Stopped Asking the Tarot About Other People, and How It Made Me More At Peace In My Relationships

why I stopped asking the Tarot about other people

During my time reading the Tarot, this is a topic I’ve gone back and forth on a lot. Up until this year, I asked the Tarot quite freely about other people, especially romantic partners. How is my crush feeling about me? What will they think about the message I sent them? What is going to happen between me and them next month? Does my ex miss me?

After falling into the trap myself one too many times, I decided to quit believing in the cards as a device to read into other people for the purposes of figuring out how they feel about me.

I don’t know if you can really see the totality of another person with a deck of cards. People’s minds are deep, complex mysteries, and basing your decisions on what the cards say about a person’s thoughts is basing your decision on outright speculation.

There are a number of pitfalls with this approach, and here are my thoughts on how to avoid.

 

1. It doesn’t address the underlying anxiety.

The only reason anybody goes and asks the cards about someone else’s thoughts and feelings is that it isn’t immediately obvious based on how the person is behaving.

Consider that what the person is displaying towards you is all that needs to be known. If a person has secret loving feelings towards you or thoughts of coming back and they’re not being displayed or acted on, those thoughts and feelings might as well not exist.

Furthermore, asking the Tarot gets you hung up on this person instead of what you should be doing: letting go, moving on, working on the actual relationship in person if possible, and not making thoughts of this person consume your entire life.

The cards shouldn’t become a replacement for dealing with the very real pain, anxiety, and loneliness this person is causing.

Instead of asking about the person, instead ask yourself questions aimed at understanding your own position in the situation. Questions like:

  1. Why am I finding it hard to letting go?
  2. What is a more grounded perspective on this situation?
  3. How can I address the anxiety/pain/loneliness I am feeling?
  4. What are my real motivations in this situation?
  5. Why am I so drawn to this person?
  6. What need am I trying to get met?
  7. What is the healthiest action for me personally to take in this situation?

Understanding what’s going on your own head will do way more for making you feel better than asking the Tarot how this person feels or whether they are coming back into your life.

 

2. It undermines your own intuition.

I know it’s weird to say because people use the cards to enhance their intuition. But in the case of asking about other people, it can actually cloud your psychic sense.

Here’s the deal – the cards can’t answer every single dilemma for you. They are not a way to avoid using your own logical senses and reasoning faculties. When you put the cards down and stop asking about your relationship or lack thereof, it gives your inner voice and fountain of insight a chance to speak to you more clearly.

Trust me, you can function quite well in your relationships without the cards. Lots of people live very happy, fulfilling love lives and make amazing level-headed decisions without ever having touched the Tarot for answers. Don’t feel like you need to use the cards as a crutch.

The answers to certain problems cannot be found in the cards, especially if you don’t know what to look for. We all have blind spots.

The last time I caught a mega-crush that got out of hand, I fixed it not by religiously asking the cards about that person (which I did for quite a while). I read a book that changed my entire perspective on the situation, and it had answers that the cards could have never given me. Problem solved.

 

3. It is a way of escaping reality.

Often, asking the cards about someone else is a way to perpetuate a fantasy. You start asking the cards how someone feels, you believe what the cards say, you start planning based on your fantasy, and then when it doesn’t turn out the way you imagined, you ask the cards again for some reassurance. And on and on.

It’s creates a false sense of intimacy with someone, because it’s intimacy that only exists in your imagination, and not in real, flesh and blood interactions with this person. The fantasy is safe. The reality may not be.

Is that the way to live? Never taking risks? Never exploring the possibility of what’s really going on with a person through interacting with them and not through the cards?

Don’t underestimate the power of your common sense. And make sure you’re not using the cards as a way to avoid what your gut instinct is telling you.
 

4. It takes the power out of your hands.

People always ask for readings about exes, but also they also do it in the very beginnings of a relationship. Questions like how will my date go? Where are things headed with person X?

It’s spoiling a bit of the fun. The natural unfolding of a relationship is replaced by a calculated effort to anticipate every problem. In this case, you have to make a dedicated effort to reign in your control freak tendencies.

Secondly, what if the cards say something negative? Does that mean you give up on the relationship? And if the cards say something positive, do you just sit back and wait on the person to approach you? At what point does your own power to influence the situation come into play?

Instead of asking the cards how a person feels, ask the cards how to attain your desired outcome with that person. Better yet, ask if your outcome is even possible.

And then take what the cards have to say at face value. If the cards say the door is firmly shut, don’t be stubborn and keep pushing. Don’t go asking again and again when the cards say something you don’t like.

 

5. Who you want may not be who you need.

Another problem is that people get so fixated on the end goal of a relationship with someone, that they overlook one key question. Is this person even worth having?

Sometimes you view a person as a trophy or a goal without stopping to think about whether a relationship with them would really contribute to your well-being. Most of the time, the person that you’re obsessing over isn’t even worth it.

And actually, the insane desire to possess another person without stopping to think about whether the relationship would be good for the both of you, is selfish, myopic, and ego-driven.

In the case of an ex, have you actually considered that this person for whatever reason has issues that would be better dealt with without you in their life? Maybe your presence is actually kicking up demons and issues that they’re not ready to face and that’s why they left you. Maybe you ex was bad for you in the first place.

Maybe your crush really does have no interest. Is that so bad? Does another person’s disinterest mean that life is now not worth living?

Make sure that the fear of rejection, insecurity, or over-analysis is not what’s behind you asking the cards about a person.

Ask yourself if a relationship with this person is what you want and need or is it your ego running the show?

The next time you feel like asking the cards how someone feels, consider this – do you really need to know?

That’s not to say that the cards can’t be used to improve your relationships at all, but before you go asking about a specific relationship, keep these points in mind so that you’re going about it in a healthy way.

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