The third regret mentioned by Bronnie Ware in the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying is ‘I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.’ This regret is about healthy self-expression. She talks about how people often don’t say how they feel to ‘keep the peace,’ but I suspect that many people also don’t say what they feel because they fear rejection or even ridicule. Perhaps what we will regret most on our deathbed is not telling people we know how much we love and appreciate them.
The Tarot spread I have created addresses both of these issues and takes into account that there is a respectful and empowering way of expressing even the more negative feelings – not to ‘keep the peace’ so much as to not burn any bridges with people we wish to keep in our lives.
The main ‘do’ when it comes to expressing our harsher feelings is to own them and to express this ownership with ‘I feel…’
It then follows that the main ‘don’t’ is to say ‘You make me feel…’
Not only does the latter disempower us by giving someone the power of control over our emotions (which simply isn’t true), it also gets their back up and most commonly leads to a counter-attack.
‘I feel…’ opens up to dialogue; ‘You make me feel…’ opens up to hostility.
Also worth bearing in mind is that if the feeling is rage or anger, it is probably better to wait a while before you try talking to the other person – or it is if you value their presence in your life on any level. Then, after you calm down, you can approach them and say, ‘I got really mad/angry… Now I feel worried/scared/confused…’ Because the truth is that anger points to an underlying fear of some kind and while it is impossible to address anger (which only serves to make us self-righteous), it is possible to address the underlying fear in conversation if both parties are willing to make themselves vulnerable.
Make Yourself Vulnerable
Daring to make yourself vulnerable by opening up takes strength and courage and this is the real reason why so many of us shut down. Sometimes it helps to think ‘If I knew I had 24 hours to live,’ who would I talk to and what would I tell them… The truth is, of course, that none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow. Your voice matters – today.
At the end of the day, we really don’t have anything to lose by opening up. If we speak up without blame and projections, by simply being true to ourselves, the other person has a chance to reciprocate with how they truly feel – especially if we make sure they know we wish to hear what they have to say too. This can then become the beginning of deep healing and taking the relationship to the next level of trust and intimacy… But yeah, it can also spell the end of the relationship if the other person is not willing to engage or if it becomes evident in dialogue that there is fundamental incompatibility, in which case going separate ways also creates a win-win.
The Healthy Self-Expression Tarot Spread
1. Your openness levels – Shows how open you are and how secure you feel in expressing your true emotions. A card like the King of Cups would show that you have pretty much arrived. The 3 of Swords is a tell-tale sign that you have let yourself be defeated by heartbreak and abandonment.
2. Main challenge in opening up – Shows an issue or emotional block that needs to be cleared.
3. How open others perceive you to be – This card indicates how you come across to those around you. Do you dare to show vulnerability? In that case, the Page of Cups may show up here. Is what you are thinking deep down anybody’s guess, expect something along the lines of the 4 of Pentacles.
4. Expressing hostility – main theme: Here we are can see where/how you struggle with expressing feelings of anger or extreme disappointment.
5. Expressing love – main theme: Here we discern where/how you may find it difficult to give expression to your feelings in your closest relationships.
6. Past trauma/hidden fears – Something that happened in the past that could have tripped you by causing you to have negative expectations. If it’s a court card, it could point to a specific individual and the impact your interaction had. In that case, the remedy is forgiveness.
7. Action advice for resolving the main challenge – self-explanatory.
SAMPLE READING WITH THE FRIDEBORG TAROT
1. Your openness levels – 5 of Swords. Negative expectations create a pattern of cutting my losses before things get too emotionally taxing. Many a bridge has been burned this way.
2. Main challenge in opening up – Self-righteousness as emotional armour. The Page of Pentacles can be a moralising prude and because she tends to be hard on herself, she finds it quite easy to harsh it up with others too…
3. How open others perceive you to be – Knight of Swords. While there is an ease of verbal connection with this Knight, I’m in danger of being seen as someone who cares more about ideologies than people.
4. Expressing hostility – main theme: High Priestess. Passive-aggressiveness.
5. Expressing love – main theme: 2 of Cups. Not too shabby actually! Phew, one ‘pass’…
6. Past trauma/hidden fears – 7 of Swords. Being lied to.
7. Action advice for resolving main challenge – 3 of Pentacles. Establishing a foundation of trust through working together with others to achieve a common goal.
Hope you enjoy using this Tarot spread for self-reflection, even though it may reflect some harsh truths back at you… but that is how we grow and make the necessary changes before it is too late…