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Seven of Wands — Spiritual Message of the Day

July 15, 2011

Seven of Wands -- Tarot of the MastersA negative aspect of the Seven of Wands is our tendency sometimes to take a defensive posture against imagined insults. Although some of us do this more than others, it is something we all do from time to time. There are two sides to this story, though, which I realized recently when I gave someone what I thought was a bit of constructive criticism but which they perceived as an attack. I was dismayed by this reception, certain that I had not meant my comment as an affront, but then I decided to consider the issue more closely and from both perspectives—the other person’s as well as mine.

From the perspective of the speaker, there are a few things to consider in the giving of constructive criticism. First, it is important to be sure that your heart is pure. Does the comment come from a place of love and compassion, or is there even a hint of blame or reprimand? Even when good intentions comprise 90% of our motivation, the listener will inevitably pick up on the 10% that is reproachful. Understandably, this is a hard call for us to make, though, since that little bit of negativity, which is so easy for others to spot, can be quite hard for us to notice.

It’s also important to consider if it’s the right time and place for the criticism. For example, even the most well-intentioned constructive criticism can seem like an attack if given in front of other people. Also, people aren’t always ready to hear certain truths, and it takes an open mind and a clear heart to realize when it might be callous to force them to face something they aren’t yet ready to face.

Finally, it’s essential to consider if our constructive criticism really is true. What may be valid for me may not be for the other person. Or perhaps a message that seems vital to me may not be important for the other person, at least not at this time. Maybe I need to consider if this issue seems important to me because it’s an issue that I need to deal with. We all tend to project a lot, so this is a common mistake when giving constructive criticism.

From the perspective of the listener, here are some things to consider when hearing what seems to be an attack. First, and foremost, assume innocence. It’s all too easy to mistake constructive criticism for an attack when we’re dead set on defending our ego, as we usually are. But even if a comment does seem to be an attack, there’s probably at least a kernel of truth in it, and we can benefit from finding whatever advice there may be there.

I recently read an article that coined the term “dexify” for our almost kneejerk reaction of defend-explain-justify when confronted with any sort of criticism. It’s worth reading for its insight and advice. Here is a brief except:

The next time you find yourself under attack and are about to resort to dexification, … look inside yourself to your own reactions. If … you find yourself in reaction mode, consider that there might be a kernel of truth here for you… If there is something there, then … dive into the question even further. … You just might learn something that will liberate you.

If you enjoy these words of spiritual advice from the cards, you will love my new Tarot book called The Soul’s Journey: Finding Spiritual Messages in the Tarot.

  1. Defend Explain Justify…I had to go look it up. I’m not finished with my first cuppa and I’ve already learned something.
    And you are correct, we leap to defend our own Nemesis, ego.

    • I loved that term when I found it! It’s almost onomatopoetic (or would “Ideophone” be a better term?) in that its sound gives an impression of its meaning.

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