We continue with Week 3 of the Artist’s Way: Recovering a Sense of Power.
In previous posts, we discussed how fear can hold us back in our work. In week 3 however, Julia mentions that when we do get bogged down by fear, we’re usually being sabotaged by an even older enemy: Shame
What is shame anyway?
The Oxford American College Dictionary defines shame as:
A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior – a loss of respect or self-esteem
How many of you – as Tarot readers have ever experienced a feeling of shame?
My guess is plenty.
It’s about control
Julie points out that shame is a controlling device where someone is attempting to prevent another person from behaving in a way that embarrasses them. By means of “shaming”, people attempt to control our behavior. Julia says that when people don’t want to see something, they get angry at the one who shows it to them. I’ve seen this time and time again with Tarot readers. Friends or family simply don’t want to hear about it so they call the reader a ‘weirdo’, a ‘freak’ or even ‘evil’.
And it goes way, way back…
The roots of our feelings of shame can often be found going as as far back as grade school. I’ve seen teachers repeatedly ridicule certain students for bad work or work that was a little too far outside the box. When this type of shaming happens to us, it teaches us fear – fear that putting any of our creative work out there for attention will cause us to be humiliated and embarrassed.
I personally had a art teacher glance at a sketch that I drew and say to me, in front of the entire class, “Whatever you do Roger, don’t give up your day job.”
I haven’t picked up a drawing pencil since.
Tarot readers and shame
As Tarot readers, we are routinely shamed by others: by the media, by our friends and family members, even by strangers who pretend to be interested clients so that they can disparage, dismiss, ridicule or even condemn us. We can try to ignore the hurtful comments but the barbs cut deep and we end up feeling like the poor figure in the 5 of Cups tarot card: shamed and embarrassed.
Or we may end up like the poor person in the 9 of Swords card: anxious and tormented while they relive the spiteful comments he/she received over and over again. In this way, I would like to be so bold as to say that being shamed by others is indeed a form of abuse – abuse that we as humans, should not have to tolerate.
So what’s the solution?
So what do we do then? How do we combat these feelings of shame that may crop up?
Julia states that as artists, we must learn to create a safe environment for ourselves. This may entail a ‘coming out’ process of sorts for us. As such, we may need to sit down with the people closest to us – our friends and family – and tell them that we read and love Tarot, that this is a part of who we are. Many folks have odd ideas of the Tarot that they’ve picked up from the television and movies (as well as from disreputable psychics) so it may be necessary for us to spend some time explaining about what Tarot is and isn’t. The important thing, is to let them know that if they don’t approve of your interest in Tarot, then they’ll simply have to get over it. You have every right to express your interests.No more living your life so that it fits into other people’s expectations of how you should act.
We must come to the point where we stand up for ourselves and simply no longer allow others to drag us into dark emotional places. If we’re reading in public and a hostile stranger sits down at our table and attempts to shame you in any way, get rid of them immediately and refuse to engage. Haters are gonna hate – and they’re not worth your time.
No more allowing others to shame you. No more allowing others to abuse you.
Getting back to the idea of a safe environment, this might also mean that you don’t tell others. For instance, telling your boss or coworkers might result in some unwelcome consequences at work. Just as you have the right to express your interests, you also have the right to keep them a secret. I personally find it unnecessary and irrelevant to share with strangers or mere acquaintances that I am a Tarot consultant. You may feel the need to tell everyone in your life and that’s fine. What’s important however, is that you surround yourself with people who won’t resort to shaming you because of what you do and if necessary, cut ties with those that do (of course, this may be difficult if the culprits are family members).
Being firm with ourselves
Years of shaming are not going to disappear overnight. We sometimes have to be firm with ourselves and not allow negative thoughts to take hold of us, such as:
“Maybe my brother-in-law is right. Perhaps I am weird and this entire Tarot thing is freakish. I mean, who am I kidding? Sensible people don’t read the cards. I’m not really any good at this anyway. It’s stupid.
Julia points out that once in our system, one doubt will take on another doubt…and another…and another. These doubting thoughts can be stopped but it’ll take effort and vigilance.
Antidotes to shame
According to Julia, self-love and self-acceptance are the antidote for shame. We may need to sit down and give ourself a stern talking to, reminding ourselves that this shame we may be experiencing is simply someone else trying to control us. It might also be helpful to remember that sometimes, people shame others so that they can feel better about themselves (think about the bully in the 5 of Swords). Remember what we learned way back in the beginning of this series: It’s is Spirit’s (or God’s or Goddess’s) will for us to be creative – our gifts are given for us to use and to share with others.
I created a six card spread for this task called the Tarot Dude Shame Spread. What we want to do in this spread is to move from a place where we feel shame and embarrassment to a place of contentment and self-confidence. In this spread, creating a safe environment is the bridge to restoring your dignity and self confidence.
Now shuffle your deck and then lay out six cards in the following positions as shown below:
The positions are:
- How is shame affecting my ability to be true to myself?
- What beliefs & criticisms do I hang onto that are not true?
- What I am trying to hide from myself out of shame or fear?
- How can I create a safe environment for my self?
- What aspect of myself do I need to nurture right now?
- How can I surround myself with more positive people?
- What helps move me into a positive future?
Artist’s Way Tasks
- Habit: Take a look at your habits. Many of them may interfere with your self-nurturing and cause shame. Do you watch excessive amounts of television? Perhaps hang out with people who ridicule you or that you don’t really like? These habits my include: drinking, smoking, overeating, procrastination, etc. List three of these habits and identify how they are sabotaging you.
- Call or contact a friend who treats you with respect. Part of recovering from shame is reaching out for support.
- List 5 people you admire. What traits do they have that you can cultivate further in yourself?
If you have the The Artist’s Way book, Julia includes a list of action steps in dealing with criticism, as well as additional exercises that help us to restore the person we’ve abandoned. Great stuff here!
Don’t have the book? You can get it HERE.