Being Stuck and Feeling Guilt


Back in October, I had a newfound goal to really dedicate myself wholeheartedly to building my tarot business. I had been recently laid off from one of my part-time jobs and figured it was as good a time as any to really turn that lemon into lemonade, as I had no more excuses that “there wasn’t enough time” to work on my tarot consulting practice and building my community, which I had neglected in the hustle and bustle of raising three kids as a single mom and trying to juggle not one, not two, but three jobs…

After a couple weeks of issuing my revived newsletter, and working the social media circuit, I completely shut down. Just stopped making an effort. Came to a complete halt without warning, without explanation.

One skipped week led to another, and then there was no energy left to devote. All of that bright and sparkly energy that I had just weeks before had disintegrated into the ether. What happened? Why was doing even the simplest task starting to feel like trying to keep my head above quicksand?

This stall-out and not getting the car started again has brought up a few questions for me, and as it often happens, several of my clients who have booked readings lately are also feeling stuck, directionless, or completely lacking in motivation to tackle projects that they were once so excited about.

It can be really troublesome because the more we try to fight the block, the more we end up sort of perpetuating it at the same time and continually asking ourselves, WHY can’t I just kick myself into gear?

Feeling stuck can also lead to really pesky emotions like guilt. You know what I’m talking about, because it’s the “I should” voice in your head.

“I should be using this time to work on my business instead of surfing You Tube and Facebook…”

“I should be organizing my bills and debt rather than charging these things on my credit card…”

“I should be hitting the gym instead of eating right from this huge bag of potato chips…”

It’s when we hear the “I should” voice, but the “Who cares” voice takes over. Ugh. Being stuck. It’s hard to pull out of a rut, and hard to be compassionate with ourselves when we feel like “we should” be doing the exact opposite of what we’re actually doing.

And yet, being stuck and being “in a rut” also has its value. One of the powerful messages of the tarot is that all experiences have value, and all experiences have their proper place in the cyclical nature of life.

That might sound a little new-agey or like do-gooder Polyanna thinking, but it is really a sort of basic universal truth. We can’t be all things all the time. Avoidance or resistance to what actually is, when it’s something we judge as “bad,” usually just creates more tension, stress, and anxiety, while acceptance can sometimes “magically” get us unstuck, a little bit like reverse psychology.

Personally I’ve been “dealing with” The Hanged Man in my own readings over the past couple of months. For a person who is deeply fire-sign oriented and an incurable over-achiever, the message of the Hanged Man is a very difficult one for me to incorporate.

Just wait and see? Hands off? Non-action? What? How does one DO that?

Oh, that’s right, it’s not DOING, it’s BEING.

When you’re stuck in a rut, rather than trying to force yourself to have energy that you don’t have, and rather than beating yourself up because you’re not doing the should dos, try a counter-intuitive approach. Maybe accept that right now isn’t the optimal time for you to be pushing forward that new goal. Maybe there are other factors in your life that are draining energy and you aren’t taking full stock of their impact on you overall. Maybe you can extend the same compassion to yourself that you would extend to a friend in your same situation.

Let’s see what the cards can tell us now about how we can come to terms with and constructively approach those times in our life when we’re feeling blocked, stuck, unmotivated, lost, or completely apathetic, lazy, and without a clear direction.

What can we consider and recognize when we’re feeling blocked? What can help? What advice and guidance can we become open to?

notice I didn’t put “should” ;-p

Here are the three cards that came up, and my ideas for reflection. Let me know what you think in the comments, too!

maj01Ace_Wands 9_Pent

When we look at these three cards initially as a unit, we notice that there’s a distinct color scheme that unites them. Yellow and white are really prevalent here. Yellow is a representative of light, warmth, energy, happiness and joy in the tarot, and white of purity, beginnings, fresh starts and innocence. When our cards have these bright and vibrant colors, like the card of The Sun itself, we know that we are in the presence of an energy that has the power to uplift and heal, rather than a dark energy that oppresses, binds, and obscures.

That tells us that the first key to finding our way out of a rut is to look towards the lighter side, lighten up, shine some light on the situation, and seek out warmth in all its forms.

Secondly, the key to this reading is in the central card, the Ace of Wands, showing us that new growth, new energy, and new projects are always there for the taking.

If we’re stuck in a rut, it doesn’t have to be seen as a permanent “condition” but rather as a gestation period prior to being offered that wand from the cloud, the new project, energy, or initiative that we’ll be given in order to take action.

Trust and faith that when the time is right that offer will come, can help us to muddle through the dark period of feeling stuck. If we believe that there will never be an end to our block, convincing ourselves that energy will never come back, we won’t be able to recognize when that new opportunity comes along.

The Magician shows us that we always have all the tools that we need to create what we want at the exact moment that it’s appropriate in our lives.

In other words, we’re always given what we need at the right moment, no more and no less. The Magician’s arms indicate above and below, reminding us that all things are connected, the microcosm reflects the macrocosm, and that if you’re currently stuck, most likely it’s a reflection of where you’re at on your overall journey. This card encourages us to stop in our negative self-talk and harsh judgement and criticism of ourselves and remind ourselves that we have the power within, already, right now, to create magic, which we could define as making the impossible possible. When we’re stuck we tend to forget about the fact that we are whole, right now. We are capable, right now. That doesn’t go away. It’s our inherent birthright. So even if we don’t have the energy to create or do, we can at least acknowledge our existence as a blessing, and give thanks for the fact that we are capable of creation, even if we aren’t motivated to do so at the current moment. We can trust that when the time is right we will answer the call, reach out and take that magic wand being offered here from the Ace of Wands back towards the Magician.

The 9 of Pentacles shows us what happens when we allow ourselves to “flow” with the block and emerge on the other side. The woman in the 9 of Pentacles is content in her ability to stand on her own two feet, and she enjoys the luxury that comes from her own company and her self-reliance.

Sometimes being stuck is a necessary condition to forge us for our journey, to help us realize what it is that we need in order to become fully self-sufficient or in order to get in touch with parts of ourselves that are resistant to abundance or inviting abundance into our lives.

The 9 of Pentacles reminds us that we are encouraged to welcome abundance into our lives, to take an approach of abundance towards the Universe rather than lack, and to try, even in moments of difficulty and feeling blocked, to cultivate a gracious attitude of counting our blessings and taking full advantage of enjoying the abundance that already surrounds us. Sometimes appreciating what we have rather than focusing on what we don’t have can create the conditions we need to emerge from a stagnant period with renewed energy.

And so, this post is born out of my own tentative emergence from a cyclical rut. It reminds me that as human beings, we can only do our best. And sometimes our best is just acknowledging that we aren’t able to really go anywhere at the moment, and that is perfectly acceptable!



  1. What a great post! And so timely for me as I’m experiencing this feeling right now. Actually, I experience it a lot and I’m starting to come to terms that it is just part of my creative process.

    What struck me about the cards you chose is that each of them is holding something and making a diagonal with their arms – one arm is up and the other down. This always gives me the impression of directing your mental/spiritual energies into the ground or manifesting them. Perhaps all that bright, sparkly energy didn’t vanish at all – it’s being transformed inside of you so that you can manifest it into something tangible.

    I see the Ace of Wands as the hand of the Magician. This makes me think of a lightning rod so I looked up what it does on wikipedia: If lightning hits the structure, it will preferentially strike the rod and be conducted to ground through the wire, instead of passing through the structure, where it could start a fire. In this analogy, the structure is you. We certainly don’t want a fire in our structure – that would be the Tower experience!!

    This says to me that the cooling off period immediately after an enthusiastic start may suggest that there’s too much passion, too much fire passing through you. In order to avoid rapid burnout, your system shifts you into neutral until you’re ready to process all of that stuff and REALLY do something with it.

    I am becoming aware that my desire to pursue something jumps ahead of the perfect timing of my spiritual plan. When this happens, I just (try to) let go and as you mentioned, simply allow the gestation process to complete.

    Hope that makes sense!


    • Wow, Kristen! Not only does it all make sense, but it’s really brilliant and insightful. You know, I hadn’t taken note of the diagonal in the 9 of Pentacles. It’s like a mirror image of the Magician, if they were folded together.
      I also love to look things up in Wikipedia during readings when I get intuitive impulses about particular images or symbols. Not only have I learned a ton of really interesting things, I’m also to provide my clients with really useful insights that they can relate back to their situation. It’s a great way of taking the tarot outside of the box.
      Thanks so much for reading. I hope that you’ll continue to share your thoughts and insights with us!!

  2. Wow, those are some proactive cards Shelley!! I would read these as a friendly kick-up-the-bum – to me they say ‘you have everything you need to make a success of your projects – you just have to grab hold!’
    The yellow is a joyful colour, but also relates to the element of air, suggesting to me that there you might need to think your way out of that rut… perhaps visualising yourself as that confident, independent Nine of Pentacles, who creates her own wealth and security through hard work?

    At the end of the day just like you say, none of us can be all the things all the time! Even the most fiery people lose their spark sometimes. When this happens to me I like to physically create a ‘folder’ for the projects I can’t finish, pull together everything I’ve created and write a cover sheet about where it’s up to. This makes me feel some ownership over the process, even if I can’t seem to progress it in the moment, and makes me feel that it’s waiting for me when I’m ready to come back to it. Then I’ll start something new to get the energy flowing again – even if it’s just something small like a mini series on my blog or the creation of a new tarot spread.

    Good luck moving through this period – don’t give yourself a hard time, just look for something that does inspire you and remember you are human!

    Beth xxx

    (PS The bag of crisps is embarrassingly familiar! Too often that’s my very un-nourishing dinner after a busy day – with no-one here to cook for right now I regularly neglect myself…!)

    • Hi Beth!
      Thanks so much for your lovely response!
      I’m really learning a lot these past few years about slowing down, taking time, and allowing things to unfold. It’s been a tough lesson for me because I am naturally oriented towards taking action and making things happen. But my life now requires me to take a completely different approach. Hey, I figure at least it means I’m continually evolving!
      Thanks for the kind encouragement. Remembering you are human…yes! Why do we sometimes feel like we have to do or produce more than simply the best we can offer? I always put way too much pressure on myself. Makes me think again “lighten up!”
      PS … Oh, so you pegged me as the subject on eating from the bag of potato chips?? Nooo…that was a “friend” of mine… :-p

  3. Hey! Have you notice the Wand?
    Like you have a wand reaching out for the Ether (the magician)
    The wand grows and starts to florish (Ace of Wands)
    You drop it to the floor, and let it bloom and give fruit (9 of Wands)

    Nice to have you back in this crazy world of ours, by the way
    You’ve been missed 😉

    À propos, tioday, during my session with Michael, the Archangel, his message was very clear “if you really want to honor me, work more and work harder. And don’t expect me to move your weight around”. Guess we’re both on the same boat 🙂

    • MIGUEL! You know I was thinking of you at the exact moment I posted this? Boy I have missed you too.

      Thanks for sharing your insights, which are always appreciated and so appropriate.

      I’ve been doing some work with my angel tarot cards lately … boy do I need some extra support lately, let me tell you! Working with the energies of Raphael and Camael. Michael is a taskmaster ;-p but he’s always got your back!


  4. Hum… Yes, he does. Michael’s a dear and he’ll do everything you need to, just as long as you do your part. Camael’s pure fire. The spark that lights Suns and everything around it. Will impersonate, so good luck with that 😉

    But yeah! We should get together. Chat a while. Put talk up to date :))

  5. Just wanted to also say, this was a GREAT post and will be saving it to re-read as it is a great tool for reminding me that sometimes “just being” is also “getting things done”. I have had a life time of these moments of feeling guilty of “not doing”, feeling that if someone calls or asks what I did or what I am up to, that I need to be able to tell them about all that I am accomplishing. So hard to get out of that mentality! Wishing us all the gift of “being”!

    • Hello Melissa! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, I absolutely always need to be reminded to just “be” sometimes. 🙂 I love Pema Chodron’s writings and talks for helping me with that.
      Take care and glad to have you with us!!!

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