So you lay the cards out, you talk about what they mean, you tell all you can see and then some and then the sitter says, "Um...I'm not sure who you just read for, but it wasn't me."
Oops! Your face flushes and you sit there a bit stunned for a moment before stammering, "Are you sure? I mean, nothing fits? Nothing at all?"
Nope. So what do you do when you're just plain wrong?
May I present to you this fallible human suit. News flash: you will get it wrong. It happens to us all. Some will say, well the cards are NEVER wrong, only the reader can be wrong. The reader interpreted them poorly. Maybe. Or maybe the wrong cards came up. I've had it happen. I threw a spread meant for someone else but the cards distinctly and clearly told the tale of my life angst at the time. As I'm reading I'm marveling that this other person was going through exactly the same things I was, look at that! And when she couldn't relate to Thing ONE in the reading, I realized those were MY cards, not hers. Were the cards right or wrong? Well, damn, I was trying to give her a reading, not me, so the cards were wrong for her.
There's this Dan guy on Aeclectic Tarot Forum that always says, "It's not about you, it's about the sitter." True enough. It is about the sitter and when the sitter looks blankly at you and says the reading sucked, suddenly its really really hard for it not to be about you. You're the one that read the cards, after all. The ego really gets a bruising then and it can be difficult to regain your composure after such a flop.
We all want to read really well. We want to be accurate. We want to give the sitter what they came for. And if we admit it to ourselves, we want them to go, "Wow...how'd she do that?" Tarot reading is both easy and hard. It does take a lot of study and time and effort to get to know the cards really well. There is plenty of skill involved. But a tarot reading straight out of the box with the Little White Book that came with the deck can be just as chillingly accurate as one done by someone with thirty or forty tarot reading years under their belt. So there's one chip off the old ego. Your tarot experience does not matter.
Your reading ability does not matter. You read the cards, you were wrong, or the cards were wrong or something. And what does it matter which? The reading pooped. Oh freaking well. You just shrug it off, let it go, and move on. That's hard but it's really the only thing you can do. Sure, you can learn from it...I did. I still do. I'm certainly not past having those kinds of readings. I don't make excuses, I don't try to make what I said fit the situation or backpedal in any way. I simply say, well...I screwed up. Besides, one stinky reading in the many, many other good readings I've done shouldn't be the one that makes me throw the cards down and walk away.
Sitters come to readers for insight, advice, a psychic tickle for their nickel or some other reason. Ultimately, the responsibility for what they do with the reading is up to them. They received it, they own it. They can toss it, disown it, or follow every last word to the end. It's up to them. If they get angry because something you said you saw in the cards ended up being different than what ultimately happens, that's their prerogative, but I think that's a consumer mentality. It's like they bought a toaster that ended up fritzing out in a week's time and feel like they got gypped...literally. (I so amuse myself...gypped comes from gypsy doncha know?) But tarot reading is on a different level altogether. It's not a product, it's an experience. It's not a guarantee, it's an opportunity. It's just not measurable or concrete the way a purchased thing is.
So you're providing a service? You gave it. They don't like it? They won't come back. Oh well, them's the breaks. Don't sweat it. Do I sound callous? I mean, people come to tarot readers looking for advice, guidance, a peek into themselves and their lives. If we steer them in the wrong direction, it's hard not to feel bad. Well, I didn't say don't feel bad. Anytime someone's advice goes wrong, it's natural to feel a bit responsible. There's not a service professional in the world who doesn't sometimes get it wrong. There's not a lawyer, a financial advisor, therapist, doctor, student advisor, or anyone else who gets paid to give advice that hasn't dropped a bomb once or twice. Framed certificates on your wall don't guard against being fallible. And when you're dealing with something as hard to nail down as intuitive flashes, grasping into the ether for something solid to show someone, it's all the more difficult to hit it every single time. So take it easy on yourself and just let it go.
When you let it go you free your mind up for the next reading. When you let it go, you also let your ego go, and your ego really has nothing to do with reading tarot, so good riddance. When you let it go you embrace your own humanity and gain more compassion for the other humans in this world and that can only make you a better tarot reader. Honesty is your best tool. It's much better to say, "Well, I guess that reading really sucked, I'm sorry. Would you like a rain check for another?" Besides, I've found that I just read better for some people than others. If you've ever gone to a reader that your friend raved about and found the reading less than flat for you, it's not that the reader sucks, but the connection -- whatever that is -- just didn't, well, connect. Who's fault is that? No one's, of course, so don't waste your time taking responsibility for it.
I will admit, when I gave that first really, really bad reading it shook my confidence for a while, and that, too, only means I'm human, and in need of grace, as are we all. So whether you're on the giving or receiving end of a crappy reading, remember that. So you may not return with your coin purse to a reader with whom you did not connect, and no one expects you will, but unless there was some seriously fraudulent smack going on, don't hold it against them. If you've read tarot yourself at all, you know how it is. Some readings just suck.
Let it go.