With this in mind, I developed a couple of Tarot spreads to serve that purpose. They are simple spreads, and I imagine that somebody else, somewhere, has probably come up with similar ones. Nevertheless, these are my own creations, to the best of my knowledge.
I am using the Dreaming Way Tarot by Rome Choi (U.S. Games Systems) to demonstrate these two spreads.
(1) a role I sometimes play (a mask I wear)
TEN OF WANDS: “the burdened one”
There are times when I feel overwhelmed by tasks, responsibilities, projects, etc. This happened more often when I worked outside my home. It seemed like one thing after another would happen until I felt I could just barely keep it all together, at which point something more would happen to “break the camel’s back.” These days, if I feel over-burdened, it is because I myself have taken on too much at one time either because I feel no one else will do it if I don’t or because it is somehow my responsibility or the “right thing to do.” Eventually, of course, this leads to resentment and irritation at other people, either because they are not helping or because they seem oblivious to the fact that I’m “doing it all” while they do nothing.
(2) how I feel about that role (mask)
THE SUN: successful
Okay, I admit it! I’m good at playing “the burdened one.” It gives me a certain satisfaction and actually bolsters my ego (“I can do it all. I will do it all.”) In astrology, the Sun represents our identity, and I am very good about identifying with this particular role, and I’m likely to feel that I am “the burdened one” rather than realizing that I am playing the role of “the burdened one.”
(3) best course of action
THREE OF WANDS: Look ahead. Involve other people.
The person on this card looks outward not inward, focusing on what lies ahead. The number Three commonly suggests the involvement of more than one person. Unlike the person on the 10 of Wands, who holds nine Wands and appears to be about to pick up a tenth, the person on the 3 of Wands holds onto only one Wand and does not pick it up or carry it. The other two Wands stand on their own. If I want to move away from playing “the burdened one,” I need to choose which Wand(s) to pick up and carry and which one(s) to set aside. On the other hand, if I truly enjoy playing “the burdened one,” I can just keep right on doing it, with the understanding that it is my choice.
(1) a role I would rather not play
ACE OF WANDS: “the person in charge”
I really don’t like to be the person in charge of anything because that usually means that other people are involved, and I dislike dealing with group dynamics and personalities. I have no interest in motivating people or getting them to do things. I’m fine if it’s just me and maybe one other person. But the thought of leading a group activity or project gives me a headache. (And yes, this is based on experience.)
(2) what will help me avoid playing that role
KNIGHT OF CUPS: using good judgment and refraining from taking a leadership role simply because I can or feel I “should” (guilt trip)
In the past, I have had a tendency to respond to the need for “someone to take charge” like a knight on a white horse riding to the rescue. I see the need and I know I am capable and I really “ought” to do it… and before I can think it through, I raise my hand and say, “Oh, I’ll do it!” And I end up hating every minute of the job. I can avoid being put in that position by “reigning myself in” and waiting to see what more appropriate role I can play.
(3) a role I would like to play
QUEEN OF CUPS: “the compassionate, intuitive caregiver”
I actually do play this role on occasion, but it doesn’t come naturally to me. I might feel compassion and my heart might go out to someone in a situation, but I tend to hold back those emotions and not reveal them. I may or may not express those feelings or act on them. In my heart and mind, I think I want to be this outwardly caring, nurturing, emotionally invested person – but when the opportunity arises to do that, I often withdraw instead. This suggests that perhaps this is a role that I cannot comfortably play, that it goes against who I really am, whether I like it or not.
(4) what will help me play that role
TWO OF CUPS: connecting and communicating with others at an emotional level
This really is the secret, isn’t it? If I cannot or will not connect and communicate with others at an emotional level, I am probably not going to feel comfortable playing the Queen of Cups role. It will feel artificial or forced. Forming emotional bonds with people is not one of my strengths. I shy away from that. Ultimately I may have to give up the idea of playing a Queen of Cups role, quit trying to force a square peg (myself) into a round hole (Queen of Cups role).
This has been an interesting and useful exercise for me. Feel free to give it a try yourself and let me know what you find out!