It is hard to strike the right balance between what a client wants a reading to be about and what you know is helpful, good, and kind. So, it ushers a question: What is your philosophy of reading for others?
Do you feel that if the customer is paying then it is your job to supply them with whatever information they want? Do you feel that you have no right to determine what should be read for and what shouldn’t be? This is a fair stance. I mean, who the hell do we think we are, anyway?
But, do you ever feel icky when you have read for someone and their question?
And whoo boy, don’t even get me started if it is a reading they don’t want to hear. It is so easy to ignore what comes through, or to even blame the reader. Only time will tell but often these people will rarely come back to let you know how spot-on the information was.
As a reader you have to hold to your ‘divinatory guns’ even while the person is shaking their head and telling you how absolutely wrong you are. This takes a tremendous amount of confidence and a very thick skin. As a business person, this can have real impact on your work especially so in this day and age of insta-rage reviews.
You are front row and center of whatever reactions they will have if they are not getting what they want from you. No wonder readers have a high burn out rate. The emotional labor of our work (not even counting the act of reading but rather the interpersonal stuff) is daunting to say the least
One of the problems is that the larger cultural zeitgeist has reduced tarot to its most shallow constituent parts. This has a huge role to play in why there is a disconnect between what some people want readings to be and what readings actually are. The cultural shift is changing and I am so hopeful for that, but we have a long way to go.
But because of the disconnect, many people don’t know that tarot largely IS like a therapy session wherein there is the premise of healing, of breaking one’s delusions, and a realistic divinatory message that is based in real-time actions. You know, actions-consequences, even tarot cannot escape that.
Perhaps these dismayed clients have avoided therapy because they don’t want to do the kind of introspective work it requires and just want to be told what to do and how everything will be ok. And some readers prey upon this.
Bad readers like anxious clients because they are vulnerable and hurt people ripe for exploitation. These readers feel good to some clients because they are feeding the ego of the client while absolutely ignoring their spiritual and personal growth. Their false and crappy readings are junk food- they feel good in the moment but they offer nothing of sustenance and will actively harm the person over time.
My personal experience has introduced me to countless clients who see those kinds of readers. These readers tell them that that abusive narcissist is their “soul mate” or “twin flame”. Invariably, these victimized people continue to open themselves to abuse because they have been led to believe that the Universe has preordained this terrible union. Blech. In my opinion, these kinds of predatory practices should see some jail time.
Sure, we are in control of the question-but how that is (or isn’t) answered is not up to us. Just because we demand to know in what month will Mr.Wrong will propose to us doesn’t mean that the Universe will answer back exactly in the way we expect. Huff! The hubris!
While we are attempting a connection with Spirit these messages are relayed via frail mortal people. These people have their own philosophies, emotions, and backgrounds. Some will read for any question without any issues. Some will say whatever it is that will make more money. And some want to use divination as a tool for self-improvement and spiritual growth.
Trust me when I say that the third option is by far the hardest.
I am not “Zoltan” don’t give me a coin while I spit out an inane fortune. I am a perceptive and intuitive reader who does this work because I truly believe in helping people get to their best selves. This is my mission. But I am also human-first and foremost I am that.
So if a client wants me to read about the guy who left a year ago, was physically abusive and a compulsive liar, I won’t do it. I will not contribute to the reinforcement of the drama triangle. I refuse to be a co-conspirator to self-destruction. I would not be able to look at myself in the mirror in the morning if I did.
Within the intuitive industry I find that there are not enough conversations about how to navigate interpersonal quandaries. So often we are siloed alone in our homes or offices trying to navigate these things on our own. It is a very isolating career choice and there isn’t yet an international professional body that exists to support intuitive workers.
When up against difficult readings that sometimes have bad consequences for you as the reader, where do you go to normalize yourself? Where are you fed, bolstered, empowered and mentored? What kind of conversations are you having with yourself and others about the kind of reader you want to be?
Welcome to part III, if you missed the others, here is part I and part II...
As you might've guessed, running a long term practice is less about the nuts and bolts of running a business and really more about the kind of attitude you need, the attitude you need for you as well as towards others. Here, I outline the rest of what I consider to be huge factors in having a successful business as a tarot practitioner. Thank you so much for reading!
Create Strong, Loving Boundaries
You do not want people who expect you to drop everything and read for them right now. You do not want people who blow up your phone at 3am. You do not want people who are unable or unwilling to go through your business procedures. You do not want people, "who will gladly pay you Tuesday for a reading today." Those people will be convincing, as to why they needed to ignore your boundaries. They will trigger the healer within you, they will appeal to the part of you who wants to help.
People who are unable to respect your boundaries are often takers. You cannot build or have a business that will sustain you unless it is a relationship, and taking is not a relationship. Psychic vampires exist; there are people who will suck and slurp and take and grab and want and need and want and need until YOU have nothing left to give. Often, it is not conscious but rather a way someone learned to live in the world. A low-vibrational, dysfunctional way of living in the world.
Now, every bad review I have is from someone who took exception to my boundaries. Every review I have that is negative is because I told someone, "no, I cannot do it. No, this is not a good fit. No, I cannot read for you in this way." People really dislike being told, “no” and you can see their inner saboteur being triggered and having a good old fashioned temper tantrum after hitting your boundaries. This is good practice and an important lesson for them. Even if we do not read for someone, they are getting karmic lessons about why.
You are not here to please everyone. You are not here to make everyone like you. You are not here to enable. Please do not let people run roughshod over you. This can be hard when we learned messages as children about our worth. How you hold your boundaries is a direct relationship to your true beliefs about what you really think you deserve.
Professionals have rules for engagement. You need them and you need to enforce them. As a reader, this may be some of the hardest moments you have to undertake, but trust me, your long term viability depends on you being able to guard your health, your sanity, your energy and your gift. Trust me, more boundaries doesn't mean all your clients will go away, just the takers.
Trust your Own Guardianship.
There is No One Right Way
Sometimes tarot practitioners ask me, “How did YOU do it?” Well… the thing is, each tarot practitioner can give only examples, guidelines, and best practices. Your journey is your own, this building of a tarot business is a deeply spiritual practice. What I have learned is, that whatever personality strengths I have, whatever psychological hang-ups I have will all show up, loud and bright in my business style, approach, vision, and operations. I truly believe that drilling down to our core person hood and amplifying it, is what having a practice does. You will be in a house of mirrors, all reflecting back upon you, the truth of you. To own a business is to learn how to manage this Selfhood of yours.
Because your business identity is unique, there is no one right way to build it. Do not confuse best practices (which you can learn) with business identity. Do not a lemming be; otherwise you will find yourself gasping as you swing from one thing to another. There are so many bright and shiny things that come to the market for business owners, but the first question you must ask is, "Is this...me?" Watch the people you admire, take up pieces and see if they fit, it they feel right, if they are you. But what you offer is limitless and priceless, do not get too hung up on how other people do things, fads come and go. Be you. Just start already.
Have a High Risk Tolerance
Piggybacking on the last point, you are going to have to figure things out for yourself. You are going to try things and they won’t work. You are going to abandon things. You are going to make mistakes. You are going to hold on too long to things that don't work. You are going to appear foolish and naive, You are going to burn bridges that you will regret. You are going to question yourself, and this, and are you crazy? Good news!This means you are an entrepreneur! Welcome to the tea party, you mad hatter!
The point is, is that you need to take risks, be okay with risks, you will have to tweak and discover, strive, and fail before your handmade business is humming along. If you are afraid of failure or even taking a risk, then you will limit your practice and yourself. If you wait until it's perfect to launch, you will never launch. Remember, growth is outside the comfort zone and you will learn as much from your failures as you will from your success (actually, more.)
The great thing about owning your own business is that , guess what? no one can fire you! Encouraging mistakes runs anathema to how we are trained as employees, working in organizations we are taught to hide mistakes, we get punished for mistakes, but as an entrepreneur you need mistakes, they will make you grow. Watch for the Saboteur, he is usually very loud and insistent when we are about to risk. Perfectionism and shame are particularly good weapons that the saboteur uses to control you, watch for them.
Trust the Leap
You Only Need to Know the First Two Steps
One of the nastiest tricks of our inner Saboteur is to convince us that we need to know all 50 steps, all parts of the how-to, to begin. But that is not true. All you need to know are the first two steps, the rest will be revealed in turn. In fact, its better if you don’t know all 50 steps because that knowing will actually limit your decision tree; you will cling to the plan, so busy looking at your map that you are not seeing what is actually surrounding you. You need to learn to feel your way, this is imperative. Get used to not having a map but making it as you go along, if this makes you anxious, that is your saboteur. Learning to feel your way makes you flexible, lets you learn how to trust your intuition, allows you to cultivate the present focus you need to make each step well thought out.
It’s kind of like that friend who just broke up with her boyfriend and now wants you to read tarot on her future husband. You can tell from the cards (who are not answering her question anyway) that the NOW moment, so ambiguously precious is what she needs right now. That the liminal point of not knowing means our unconscious selves are doing the number crunching right now. If you told your friend about her future husband, that only serves to feed the ego and she will be looking for him instead of doing the heavy spiritual work of the now. Same for you and your business; you really do know, you know. Just not the awake part of you.
Again, trust your selves
Comparison is a Thief, but Collaboration is a Joy
Finally, as you begin to become successful, you will start to compare yourself to other practitioners. Oh wow, look how many followers she has. Look at how nice his website is, (jeez I suck). KNOCK IT OFF. Again, you will do this your way, not their way. Do not peek onto any other reader’s stuff if you know your saboteur will use it as ammo. Rather, engage in your guide, reach out to other readers who make you feel something good, and work with them, partner with them. Create and be part of tarot communities that support you.
Though, be diligent, too. As you become successful you will begin attracting bottom feeders. People who want what you have, who will copy what you make, who want you to teach them, mentor them, and they will use you up and spit you out. Be very discerning about who gets your light and your attention. Again, refer to loving boundaries. Say no to the sudden friends who want to pick your brains over lunch or lurking at your edges, you know sneaky when you feel it.
Trust your Gut.
Thank you again for reading my little listicle here and thanks for stopping by!
If you liked what you read, you can always subscribe to my blog, and email me with any questions and yes, I do mentor tarot practitioners. Here's to the rising tide, and the wonderful Spirit of Tarot that makes it so...
Part II to my three part series (find part one here) I continue to dish on what I think are some of the greatest factors of success as an independent tarot practitioner.
As you might have guessed, success is mostly an inside game. I found self employment to be one of the biggest head games I have ever encountered. We truly are only in competition with ourselves, and the better able we are able to manage our mind, the more successful we can be. Below, are the next five points for your consideration, also stay tuned for the third in this series coming later!
Lack of consistency is an inner saboteur tactic. Keep the same reading hours, commit to x number a week. Commit to office hours for your business. Be available in the same ways and with the same platforms. Make your communication consistent, your style consistent. I know, yawn, everyone wants ‘the new thing’ right? Well, people also yearn for islands–places where they know what to expect, and that you will be there for them when they need you. This is an unconditional element to a successful tarot practice. If you find yourself slipping, there is a reason; be a professional and don’t avoid it, look at what’s going on and get a grip on your process. Since you no longer have a boss, or coworkers, or annual reviews to externally motivate you, you will have to figure out ways to motivate yourself. Since our motivation is not held in another person's authority, it needs to be held within a plan or process. Watching for backslide is critical. Kind of like starting a new diet program or work out regime, it is easy to fall back into old behaviors one small thing at a time. Guard against that by being consistent.
Trust Your Process.
Your Real World Support Determines Much
Your tribe is a big deal. The Mom who can watch the kids twice a week so you can do readings, the partner who can carry your health insurance while you shift your career, the boyfriend who believes in you so much that looking at him makes you believe that you can do it, too. You need these people, you need support from the people who love you. But also, some people who love you very much will also not want you to succeed, and they will sabotage your efforts. This is an important distinction to make, someone's level of love for you does not equate to how much they will be able to support you. Make no mistake, as you begin to chase your calling the people in your life will organize themselves into two camps: the supporters, and the deniers.
See, the thing is, when we start to chase our calling we may unconsciously trigger the inner saboteur within the people in our lives. Their inner Saboteur does not want you to succeed because your success will remind them that they had a calling they gave up on. They believed walking away was right, good, and necessary. They have talked themselves into accepting the fact that they didn’t need to follow their dream (and they don’t have to.) But when you begin pulling away; they get scared. What if you change, what if you challenge them, what if they have to look in the mirror and question what they see? That is terrifying. These deniers can love you so much, but what you are attempting is so fearful they will withdraw their support.
Conversely, people in your circle with whom you have had limited contact, or do not know very well at all will all of the sudden rally to lift you up. Find these people. Bring them close to you, take their help. The funny thing is, is that relationship does not always determine support. Move quickly to understand who is in this camp and bring them closer to you.
I have seen more than one very promising reader never make it because someone in her circle made her life a living hell. Figure out who will help, who cannot, and make plans accordingly, do not ignore this. Ignoring this means a lot of heartache later on.
Trust the Tribe that Cheers you On.
As you begin your tarot practice, be realistic about what you can achieve. Expect for a turnaround of 2-5 years to build a client base–provided you are very good, provided that you work very hard, provided you treat your clients well. Expecting to go full time and replacing a salary within 6 months to a year is not realistic in most cases. Just because you want and hope for that to happen does not mean that that is the industry standard. Ask tarot practitioners what and how and for how long it took them. Again remember, you are in it for the long haul. Run the numbers, create financial goals and milestones to celebrate. Again, if you are having dreams of being the tarot reader of the rich and famous and you live in Anchorage Alaska with no plans to move– that’s your Saboteur talking, he likes to make grandiose dreams that are impossible for you to fulfill. What you can create by dint of effort and time, will be so beautiful on its own. Give yourself time, and give yourself goals that are attainable so that you keep winning.
Trust in Building Realistically
Be Prepared to Work Extremely Hard
If you want a tarot gig where you work 20 hours a week then owning a small business is not for you. Launching and building a small business is extremely hard work. I laugh at the times where I complained about overwork when I was in a traditional 40 hour work week. There is so much to do when building your business and client base, I don’t think I saw my husband much my first two years of launching, and I lost friends because I shut down my social life to make it happen. Was it worth it? Yes. Oh Gods, yes. I cannot believe that I get to read tarot, be my own boss, call my own shots for a living–sometimes I have to pinch myself! I could never go back to being an employee. No more meetings, no more bosses, no more office politics, no more pantyhose! But, most importantly, reading tarot is endemic to who I am, it is me at my best. It is my calling, and in order to give birth to my calling, the labor was worth it. It has to be worth it to you. It will be hard, and also amazing, I promise.
Your saboteur doesn’t want to work hard. If you ever get that weird, 'but I am afraid of being overwhelmed feeling' that is your saboteur. Your saboteur creates imaginary futures to freak out about. It wants to keep you small, but launching a business is like launching a rocket ship, you need massive push to escape the velocity of the life laid out for you. You need heat and light. You need to push because when you do, you get the stars, the stars that were lined up for you the moment you were born. See, your inner guide knows this, which is why you are reading my blog post, your guide brought you here to remind you.
Trust Your Strength.
But, Everyone Has Their Limits
This was a hard lesson for me. I ignored my limits until I became very sick. I pushed and pushed until my body began to break down. I got tennis elbow from shuffling the cards so much. I got sciatica hunched over my laptop for hours and hours at 3 am. I got a 4 month migraine because I refused to give myself time off. The last one was the hardest thing I have ever lived through. I was scared of stopping because I feared becoming irrelevant, forgotten, unimportant–what fears of the ego. What a tough but necessary lesson. Real relationships will wait, but an audience of followers will move into the next bright thing. Which do you want, relationships or 'followers'?
Because I am a stubborn woman, it took a near physical breakdown for me to totally realign my business in a way that was healthier for me. I realized I could not be all things to all people, I cannot do it all. I learned to say no more. I learned to reorganize my business to support me better. I was so fearful of losing the momentum I built, but, even with the new supports in place, my business continues to climb.
The things that were ego driven, fell away. Less splashing near the surface of the water, but lots of movement underneath. This particular lesson goes out to my A Personality people, you know who you are! Please, respect your limits. Rest, take a day off. Take a vacation, don’t answer your email after 9pm. Teach people in how to best reach you, take good care of yourself, we need you around. The ones who are worth it, will respect you. Otherwise, you just have an audience, and gawkers don’t pay the bills.
Trust What You Build.
Did that resonate, sugar plum? If so, there is more where that came from! Keep your eyes peeled over the next few days as I drop part III. You can always subscribe to my blog, and email me with any questions and yes, I do mentor tarot practitioners. Here's to the rising tide, and the wonderful Spirit of Tarot that makes it so...
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M.S. in Organizational Psychology and Leadership