Ten of Wands: All those musts and shoulds and have-tos

I’ve only been writing my morning pages (this time around) for three days.

And already I’m noticing a pattern.

A Ten of Wands kind of pattern. Oh no!

The words that seem to come up most often are words like this:

I should…

I must…

I have to…

What’s that about?

Perhaps it’s par for the course when you do something like The Artist’s Way. It’s a course for self-improvement, so it’s natural there’s going to be a bit of that ‘aspirational’ kind of writing.

I’m not sure how aspirational ‘I must…’ really is though. It sounds more like the kind of thing one of those people I’ve come to run screaming from might say. You know, the type who are on every committee that’s going and are forever telling you all of the not-always-very-exciting contents of their to-do lists, smugly, wearily, as if you should be envious and pitying and admiring all at the same time.

Ten of Wands tarot card Karin Hagen
The Ten of Wands, by Karin Hagen

Ten of Wands by Karin Hagen

I realised a couple of years ago that I was in danger of becoming one of those women. I was getting perilously close to busybody status and it was beginning to make me cringe. So I gracefully excused myself from a bunch of roles (or in a couple of examples, simply vanished – eek) and breathed a big sigh of me-me-me-type relief.

But I digress. The point is I don’t want to be a woman of musts and shoulds and have tos. That’s the damn Ten of Wands and that card is a warning to the lot of us. I keep forgetting that most of my ‘duties’ aren’t imposed on me from outside. They’re figments of my imagination.

So as of right this minute, I’m changing the pattern.

When I find myself saying ‘I must get on with building my tarot shop’, I’m going to say ‘How cool would it be to build my tarot shop today? Very cool? Okay then let’s do this!’ And when I find myself saying ‘I have to go to the shop because I’m running out of loo roll’, I’m going to say ‘I’ve got tissues in my handbag – I don’t have to do any damn thing!’ And when I say ‘I should go for a bike ride today, I’m going to say ‘Do I fancy a bike ride today?’

In this way, I’m putting down all those silly self-blinding wands, checking them out on the ground there. No-one is forcing me to carry them (no-one else even cares!) They are my wands to carry, to drop, to play Pooh-sticks, to build a tent… mine to choose, selfishly, which ones I want to pick up.

Like this post? Please share it!


  1. Ellen says:

    When I find myself saying things like I have to or I should, I try to remind myself that it is probable something I want. I don’t have to cook. I want to cook so I can eat dinner. It is good to read this post to remind me of this subtle difference.
    Do you write these pages in longhand or do you type them?

    • Little Red says:

      Good test Ellen – and if you don’t want it, why on earth is it a ‘should’? I think we (specifically women) are often conditioned to feel a sense of duty or obligation about some of the most trivial elements of our lives. And then we’re taught to feel guilty if we don’t do these things. Etc etc.

      I type them! (Unless I’m on a train and then I scribble them in my notebook and write them up later.) But since this isn’t my day job I don’t often have the luxury of writing them longhand and then typing them up…I just blog away about whatever’s on my mind or whatever the cards have thrown up and hit ‘publish’ 🙂

      • Ellen says:

        Guilt. My family members know exactly which buttons to push if they want something from me 😀
        I type them too. Due to a neck injury, I can’t write them by hand anymore. I have written them some time on a website called “About a little thing called 750 Words”

  2. Little Red says:

    Oh my goodness – I just looked it up, what a brilliant idea!
    Here’s a link: 750 Words: A website for your morning pages if you prefer to type.
    The itch to use it is strong, Ellen. I *love* to type. But I do so little longhand writing these days, and it’s important to me not to turn the computer on first thing in the morning, so I’m gonna stick with my notebook for now.
    Thanks for sharing 😀

Comments are closed.