I use tarot and oracle cards as tools for reflection and contemplation. Rather than divining the future, they are a way for me to look more deeply at the "now."
"The goal isn't to arrive, but to meander, to saunter, to make your life a holy wandering." ~ Rami Shapiro

Sunday, October 25, 2015

It's Hell Being Average

This week I'll be using the Prairie Tarot, created and self-published by Robin Ator. Paired with it will be the Medicine Cards, a deck and book set published by St. Martin's Press and created by David Carson and Jamie Sams. Today's cards are the Eight of Cups and "Moose:"
If you are going through hell, keep going. 
― Winston S. Churchill
          I can't imagine packing up all my belongings, pets and people into a covered wagon, and then traveling many miles into remote lands. Those pioneers had courage, which is exactly what the Eight of Cups is asking of me. When I'm miserable and feel useless, why stay in this place? Probably because the hell I'm in feels safer than the unknown of change, but as Churchill states, it's not a place I should want to stay. There's undiscovered territory waiting to be explored.
          Carson and Sams have assigned "self-esteem" to describe the message of Moose. After reading several studies by Kristen Neff, I think I would change it to self-compassion instead. Self-esteem requires a constant evaluation and comparison of myself with others. To be positive, it requires me to be special or above-average. On the other hand, self-compassion (according to Neff) has three main components:
(a) self-kindness—being kind and understanding toward oneself in instances of pain or failure rather than being harshly self-critical
(b) common humanity—perceiving one's experiences as part of the larger human experience rather than seeing them as separating and isolating
(c) mindfulness—holding painful thoughts and feelings in balanced awareness rather than over-identifying with them. 
Self-compassion offers the benefits of self-esteem without the downsides. And I think it would give me the courage to pack my wagon and the resilience to keep going until I find what I'm looking for.


  1. I'v never thought of self esteem as something that would make me compare myself with other people. I think you do need to have some kind of confidence you are sufficiently equipped to undertake such an adventure. Maybe by assessing our abilities and qualities without judging we can learn what we are capable of and where our strength lies...

    1. I think that's what Neff is trying to get others to see - that self-esteem is built on feeling confident because we are "better than average", which puts a heck of a lot of pressure on us. In Neff's own words:

      "It's important to distinguish self-compassion from self-esteem. Self-esteem refers to the degree to which we evaluate ourselves positively. It represents how much we like or value ourselves, and is often based on comparisons with others. In contrast, self-compassion is not based on positive judgments or evaluations, it is a way of relating to ourselves. People feel self-compassion because they are human beings, not because they are special and above average. It emphasizes interconnection rather than separateness. This means that with self-compassion, you don't have to feel better than others to feel good about yourself. It also offers more emotional stability than self-esteem because it is always there for you - when you're on top of the world and when you fall flat on your face."

    2. Thanks Bev Maybe self-esteem feels different for me; more like self worth; the idea you are enough just the way you are and that brings you back to self compassion
      So many words for Love :)

    3. Now if we can just apply those words! :)

  2. Replies
    1. In Orphan Annie's words, "It's a hard-knock life."

  3. "This means that with self-compassion, you don't have to feel better than others to feel good about yourself." - Ness

    I could replace "self-compassion" with "self-esteem" and the above sentence would be equally true. Self-esteem has nothing to do with comparing ourselves with others, in my experience. Interesting to consider, mind you, and perhaps it's a true description of what some people base their self-esteem upon.

    1. I think Neff is basing her definitions on a more scientific measurement than what most of us would understand as self-esteem. :)

  4. Those homesteaders are driving straight towards self-compassion. I imagine it was built into the journey back then.

    1. I wish self-compassion was taught as a subject in schools!