For me, today, I see this card as representative of being emotionally stuck. One aspect of the Six of Swords is a movement away from what was troubling you in the past to calmer waters (quite literally, looking at the RWS deck). That’s assuming you can get past the past, so to speak.
It is human nature to try to avoid pain, especially emotional pain. We can plunge very deep into denial in the process of that avoidance. If we experience the physical pain of sliding on the ice and falling flat on our backsides, there’s no denying the resulting aches and bruises. But that feeling pales next to the humiliation of the people around you having a right old laugh at your expense. You might feel hurt, emotionally, which is overshadowed by anger, but that anger may remain internalized because, hey, it’s no one’s fault you fell down so it wouldn’t be right to take it out on anyone else. Unexpressed anger turns to sadness. One day you realize you’re depressed and you don’t know why.
Of course all that isn’t going to happen from one pratfall. Life is full of similar slips where maybe you fall, maybe you’re pushed, and maybe you never had the chance to get up in the first place. Sometimes I think the main focus of our life’s work is to try to resolve all the issues that were dumped on us in our developmental years. Some of us grow up in environments that support emotional development and resolution. Some of us find those environments later in life, when the time is right. And some of us are pretty much left to figure these things out for ourselves. In every case it’s up to the individual to come to terms with their own emotions, how to live in harmony with them, and what there is to learn from them. Even with the best guidance, you still have to do the work.
In order to get past sorrow, anger, frustration, anxiety, the emotions we see as negative, or blockers to living a fuller, happier life, we first have to acknowledge those emotions, examine them in the light, really feel them, own them, and process them. Covering up emotions by repressing them works no better than covering up dirt by hiding it under the carpet. Sure, you can get away with it for a while, but eventually you are going to have a lump under the carpet the size of an Irish wolfhound, and it will keep tripping you up until you’re ready to clear it properly.