The Daily Draw: Ten of Wands

Featured imageMuch of the writing I’ve seen about this card focuses on the negative, but to me this is kind of a good news, bad news card. The good news is you’re being effective, you’re able to carry your own weight (and then some), you’re making progress, you’re somehow managing with everything you take on. The bad news is you take on too much, you’re struggling to maintain, either no one is helping you or you won’t let them help, and as a result you’re being run into the ground.

On the RWS deck it’s obvious the person on this card is hunched over under the weight of a great burden. What might not be so obvious is that he was once standing upright, probably with fewer burdens, and he’s apparently travelled some distance to get this far.

I used to work for a company where the COO once confided to me, “if you want to get something done, ask someone who is busy,” the rationale, I think, being that busy people get things done, whereas people who take life at a slower pace will get around to it eventually. That’s great and all, but it leads to dumping on capable people until they become incapable, especially if they have a hard time saying “no”.

We are taught from an early age that “no” is a bad word. What child hasn’t heard a parent say, “don’t say no to me”? And it’s usually said in a tone of voice that most children will change their behaviour to avoid. The theme is reinforced in school, any organized activity and even in peer groups. Hands up anyone who hasn’t done something stupid, wrong or both at least once just because their friends were doing it. No, I didn’t think so.

By the time we become adults we are conditioned to not say no, or at least feel uncomfortable and guilty when we do, even when it comes to disciplining children (which probably explains a lot and is a conversation for another day). Sometimes it seems the better one gets at not saying no, the more outrageous and overwhelming the requests for assistance become. This is most likely how the person in the Ten of Wands came to be carrying that load.

There are always going to be the core responsibilities of existence – providing your family with a place to live, food, clothing, support, guidance and supervision for the young. And those responsibilities, on their own, can be too much to carry for many people in these economic times.

That brings us to something else most of us seem to have an issue with: asking for help. Think of it as active receiving, and start practising. If you hear no, ask somebody else. I know, I have to train myself better in this too, but I have seen it work in everything from school bake sales to government rent subsidies. Those of you above a certain age will know this as the squeaky wheel getting the grease.

If you are coping with the core responsibilities, perhaps even seen as thriving, then all the more reason to become at peace with using the power of no. Having a large family, and wanting to help people when I can, I get little enough opportunity for me time. That’s why I make gosh darned sure I get what I can of it. We all have to take care of ourselves. We all have our limits. We all have to recharge our batteries. If you can’t take care of yourself, you really can’t take care of anyone else.

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