Quitting on your dreams: why we do it and how to stop

Collective readings

How can you sustain the energy to not quit on your dream, even when dreaming is hard, and painful, and drains you, and makes you just wish you never even had the dream in the first fucking place?

Table of contents

Hello my fellow Soul explorers,

This is a long-ish reading, so please feel free to take breaks and give the words time to digest. You can even split it up and do a bit each week, if that suits you.

The goal here is to create a sacred space for your Soul to speak. We do this work to connect with the parts of ourselves that have been waiting for us to stop, breathe, and listen. So when the mind jumps in and wants to just read as quickly as possible and finish and move on to the next thing, that’s a good sign that we’re not giving enough space for the Soul to just be itself. The mind can be a bit domineering, so if you like, it’s perfectly fine to tell it to sit quietly for a few minutes while you do your spiritual work. 🌙

This month’s focus is based on the experience I've had in the past 2 weeks, which is why you haven’t heard from me in a while. My mental health went down for a bit, like it normally does, and I had to work through all the anxiety that that brought up in me. I went through some major self doubt, questioning why I’m doing this, and what purpose it even serves in the world, and why can’t I just get a nice office job that’s boring and pays my bills. You know, a typical pity party. 😬

Self doubt is a running theme in my journey, and I’m never going to pretend to have it finally figured out. I’m a person who has insecurities that love to pop out of the closet every so often. And just because I’m a spiritual practitioner and I’m studying psychology doesn’t mean I have my shit together any more than anyone else. So every time I go through these periods, I feel called to share the lessons learned, because I really believe that my struggle can only be transformed into strength when I channel it into being of service to others who are also in pain.

The Cards:

L to R: 7 of Cups, the Fool, 9 of Cups, 4 of Swords and Page of Swords

This post focuses heavily on the Seven of Cups and the Nine of Cups. They popped out as I was pulling the cards for this reading, and I feel like they have a lot to say by just comparing how the people look in those two cards above.

I’ll be honest: I feel like the person in the Seven of Cups most of the time. If you’re not familiar with tarot, think of the Cups here as your dreams and wishes. And in my case, my dreams feel like a burden A LOT of the time. I wish I was the person who had big dreams and unlimited energy, but nah. That’s not been me for the last 5 years or so. In fact, if we’re being really honest, sometimes I don’t even like having goals because they come with so much anxiety.

  • It feels like I’ll never get to where I want to get.
  • Like I’m foolish for even thinking that it was possible.
  • Like there’s just something wrong with me that makes it impossible to accomplish the things that other people seem to do so easily.
  • It feels like life is unfair; that I was put in a situation where my dreams will always be out of reach.
  • It feels cruel to have these big dreams hanging over my head, while in real life I’m just fighting to keep my head above water, much like the person depicted in the card.

So honestly, for me, sometimes it’s just easier not to dream.

Sometimes it’s safer to stay where I am and never hope for more, because at least that way I don’t have to feel afraid of disappointing myself. It takes a lot of energy to dream, even though culture paints it as this cute, little thing that we do naturally. No. I’m calling bullshit on the whole thing.

It takes A LOT of energy to dream.

It takes a lot of strength to want better for yourself; to try and do more or be more. And I don’t always have that energy, but I also know that when I do, I’m able to move mountains.

So the reading for this month is about exploring that disconnect—that feeling when you know you have more potential in you, but it’s just too much fucking energy to actually do anything about it in real life. And so the question we’re really exploring here is:

How can you sustain the energy to not quit on your dream, even when dreaming is hard, and painful, and drains you, and makes you just wish you never even had the dream in the first fucking place?

Step 1: Choosing your own rules

I find at least half of the answer to this question hidden in The Fool. According to my lovely teacher Lindsay Mack, the Fool in tarot is a reminder that there's no solid ground. In other words, permanent stability under capitalism is a myth. Very few people get to a point where they’re perfectly settled and can stop looking ahead. There’s always more to want. There’s always more to envy. And in case you ever forget even for just a minute, the world will be quick to remind you all the ways that you’re not enough.

So working with Fool energy means consciously reminding yourself that the ground we think we're standing on, it doesn’t actually exist. The systems, the structures, the rules… none of these are real. They’re all made up. And I know that this fact is not directly helpful when you’re trying to navigate these systems and structures and just earn a living and keep food on your table.

But I think when you’re stuck in Seven of Cups mode, when you’re fighting to just keep your head above water, when hope feels lost and life feels dreary and unhappy, those are the times that it can be helpful to remind yourself that you get to write your own rules. You get to decide what values you want to live by. You can’t have everything, and you definitely have to choose and prioritize, but you are in charge of the picking. You can pick freedom over capitalistic ambition, or vice versa. You can pick flexibility over long term financial security, or the reverse. Some people are very, very lucky to have everything, but I'd say that most of us have to make these decisions.

But... the point is that you do get to choose. You're not helpless, even though it may feel like that sometimes. It takes a lot of energy to actually put into practice, but you do have that power over your life to decide where you want to go and how you want to get there.

So here are some journal prompts to work with the energy of this card for this month. Please take the time to write down the answers to these questions, allowing your pen to flow freely without thinking too much about it. One of the best ways to connect with your subconscious mind is to write without thinking first what you're going to write.

Whenever it feels like life is boxing you in and you don’t know where to turn, it can be helpful to remind yourself that the ground doesn’t exist. The structure isn’t set in stone. So what are you assuming to be true that isn’t? What rules do you have the freedom to break now, even though you may have previously thought that they were set in stone?

I can’t talk about The Fool without bringing up the soul, because the Fool card is a visual representation of Soul itself. The Soul is that part of ourselves that remembers; that isn’t limited by all the societal conditioning that the other parts of us are stuck in.

The Soul is ancient and wise, and is the only part of us that can actually see that there’s no fucking ground. That we’re all just floating on air. If you ask me, the Fool is the most powerful out of the 78 cards in tarot because everything starts and ends with Soul—which shows up as the quiet whispers of your innermost voice.

Step 2: Getting clear about what you want

So what can you do to get into the practice of listening to your own voice? How do you determine which values you want to build your life around, instead of what you were told to build your life around? That’s where the Nine of Cups comes in.

Jessica Dore says this about the Nine of Cups:

To accept what we want requires us also to accept the pain of not having it.

The imagery of the Nine of Cups and the Seven of Cups are quite similar. But the key difference is that in the 7, the Cups are floating above like some sort of illusion. While in the 9, they’re kind of lifting the person up. It’s the difference between feeling lost and confused because of all the options in life, not knowing which way to turn, versus having dreams and ambitions that are authentically you and built around what’s actually important to you.

When the Nine of Cups pops up, I always ask this question, and I’ll invite you to explore it as a journal prompt to really explore the energy of this card:

What do I want out of my life, and why?

I think that last part, the "and why" is probably the most important bit. It's the first step in what I call 'building your life backwards'. And I think it's one of the best ways to make sure you’re living a life that’s authentic to who you are on the inside.

What I mean by building your life backwards is that you stop chasing things because you feel like that’s what you’re supposed to be doing, or because everyone else has them and they seem to be doing well, so you might as well try and get those things for yourself.

Instead, you pick your values first and then make your decisions based on those values. So if you value courage, you’re choosing to make decisions that scare you. If you value ambition, you’re choosing to grind and hustle. If you value stillness, you’re choosing to take a simpler path, even though everyone around you might want you to always do more.

The beautiful thing about building your life backwards means that because you’re not chasing something physical, something tangible and material, you’re giving yourself room for life to unfold. If you decide that your values are authenticity and bravery, that’s something you can bring with you wherever you go. Whatever obstacle you’re facing, the goal becomes to face it with honesty and courage. But if you’re chasing a possession or position, what happens when you don’t get it? What happens when you do get it and then lose it? Or what happens when you get it and it doesn’t make you feel as fulfilled as you thought it would?

Having something material as the fixed point for a dream makes it difficult to appreciate the present moment, because you’ve attached your satisfaction to something that you do not (and might not) ever possess. But having your desires built around values means that today, right now, you can take tangible steps towards being the person you want to be, embodying the energy you want to embody, creating the legacy you want to leave behind.

This mindset makes you so much more resilient and able to cope when life doesn’t give you the things you wanted, because you know that you’re carrying your values with you into every fucking room you walk into. And that's something that can never be taken away from you, no matter what your external circumstances may look like.

If you’ve already done the journal prompt for what you want out of life and why, the next question is: what kind of person do I want to be, and why? What do those characteristics mean to me?

Step 3: The guides to help you on this journey

If you’ve not done this before, you might not know where to start to find these foundational values that you can build your life upon. So I pulled two cards to guide you as you do the exercises above: the Four of Swords and the Page of Swords.

I find it funny that the first card I picked is the Four of Swords. The Luna Sol Tarot depicts this as someone who looks to be in some kind of martial arts training room, but has sheathed all their swords and put them away. Because like I always say if you hang around me long enough, spirituality is not really the domain of the mind. When we’re doing this work, sometimes we just need to tell our minds, “Thank you for running the show, but I’m going to put you in the backseat for a little bit.”

If you ever take anything away from my readings, it’s that your intuition is just as powerful as your intellect, and in some situations it might even know more than your beautiful mind.

So this card pops up as a loving reminder as you walk through the journal prompts above that you’re not meant to overthink this. You don’t have to brainstorm this. It’s the exact opposite. The values that are most important are already there and have been showing up as nudges…sometimes as shouts…trying to point you in the direction of your highest growth.

The things that scare you, the ideas that make you uncomfortable…not because they’re violating your boundaries, but because they’re challenging you to your very core…that’s where you can see your core values expressing themselves. The places in your life where you feel that you’re settling, that you can be more, that you’re meant for more, that’s where you need to start the process of uncovering.

And using myself as an example, my values are tied deeply into what I said in the intro about channeling my pain into something useful. So it doesn’t matter what it looks like on the outside. I could be a therapist, or a teacher, or a spiritual healer, or who knows what else? I have no idea where life will take me and I'm not fixed on the outcome, but I know that following that path will get me to where I am needed to go.

The second guide is the Page of Swords. If the 4 of Swords is gently reminding you not to overthink, the Page of Swords is lovingly calling you out. Because what’s a good tarot reading without a sweet little confrontation on the places you know you can be doing better? 😊

And so the Page of Swords is here to ask you to look at the places in your life where you’ve gathered a ton of knowledge, where you could get up and give a TED talk on the spot, but you never actually do anything with all this info. The Page of Swords is ever curious and always wants to learn more, but they haven’t really absorbed the wisdom of how to apply this to create actual impact in their life.

And this ties in beautifully with the 4 of Swords because it’s basically telling you that instead of trying to overthink this, the places you should actually be looking at, (if you haven’t already), are the places where you have a lot of knowledge but are afraid to share it. The rooms in which you know deep down that your voice would be a valuable contribution, but you’re afraid to speak out above all the noise that already exists.

It reminds me of a Mark Manson article where he talks about how a friend of his was desperate to find his passion. And Mark said, you don’t find your passion. It’s the thing you’re already doing without thinking about it. The thing that doesn’t feel like work. The thing that you can spend hours on and feel energized at the end, instead of drained. We’re not talking about passion here today, but I think the same concept can be broadly applied to finding your values as well.

So I hope this reading was helpful for you. As always, if you want to chat or ask questions, please email me at me@terriwanjiku.com. I love hearing from you. It makes my day and encourages me to keep going, especially when that little self doubt gremlin starts talking its shit. 😄

And lastly, HUGE shout-out to the latest subscribers: NaGirl, C. Burgess, Olvera, Alcione, and K. Ramsey. So, so glad to have you guys here, and sending you all the happy, healthy, loving vibes I have to share.