When it comes to setting priorities in our lives, our emotional well-being should be right at the top of the list.

We can often collect emotional anchors that weigh us down and carry them when we no longer have any use for them. When we start to feel heavy, that’s when the Eight of Cups can come in and help us sort through everything and free ourselves from it all.

Leaving behind what no longer serves us sounds like it should be easy, if we have no more use for it then why would it be difficult to let it go? But often, the emotional weight that we are carrying has been built up over a long time. It’s a treasure chest of old trauma, beliefs and defence mechanisms.

Often we don’t even know we are carrying this weight because it’s become such a natural part of our thoughts and behaviours. It’s a part of who we are and we have to identify it before we can start to address it.

The Eight of Cups and starting the cycle of clearance

I think one of the most important things to remember when doing Eight of Cups work in this context is that it is a cycle, it is a slow process that takes time and patience. You can’t just chuck out everything you’ve built up over years and years of existing overnight. There are stages of this work and each stage is as important as the next.

Stage 1 – Identifying and finding clarity

The first stage of this Eight of Cups work is finding out what it is that you’re carrying, what is it that’s weighing you down and keeping you from being able to find inner peace and emotional contentment.

This is arguably the hardest stage, it’s the stage where you have to be brutally honest with yourself and that’s always hard because you have to be self-aware. You have to be able to step out of yourself in order to see things for what they are and not what you want them to be.

It’s important not to rush this stage and show yourself some compassion because it can be painful. You might dig up stuff you’d forgotten about or pushed to your deepest depths. It’s a journey down deeper and deeper and it can be exhausting work, so take your time and be patient with yourself.

I am learning to love the sound of my feet walking away from things not meant for me
— Unknown

Stage 2 – Acceptance

Once you’ve made those discoveries and know exactly what needs to be released, it’s time to spend some time just letting it sink in. To accept that you’ve been carrying all this for so long and now it’s time to let it all go.

We can often be reluctant to let go of anything, even the bad stuff. Often we’ve kept hold of these things because they make us feel safe, in a familiar environment that we know inside and out. To let go of it is to step into the unknown and put ourselves into the role of the student once again and, especially for adults, that can be a hard thing to accept.

Stage 3 – Strategy for letting go

We’ve identified what we want to walk away from and we’ve accepted that it’s for our own wellbeing, but now we need to figure out how to walk away. There may be habits, behaviours or thought patterns that have been put into place based on those things. It’s often amazing to see just how much of ourselves has been built around these things.

Something that can help is to journal what behaviours you have that can be traced back to the things you’re looking to release. Spend time noting down what these are and then you can start to decide how to start breaking them down.

Some useful tools for this are things like:

  • Positive affirmations

  • Thought challenges – where you counter negative thoughts with reasons they aren’t true

  • Actively stepping out of your comfort zone – trying new hobbies, classes etc.

  • Mindfulness – particularly being mindful of thoughts, what you say and how you behave both to yourself and to others

Knowing when to walk away is wisdom. Being able to is courage.
— Unknown

Stage 4 – Finding the courage and walking away

The final stage is finding the courage to take that first step in the right direction. You know what you need to release and you know how you’re going to do it. Now we implement those strategies and start making those changes so we can start to transition into this new chapter of our lives.

Often the thing we have to remind ourselves is that we are doing this because it is what’s best for us. We need to take this step in order to put ourselves first and be able to move into an emotionally healthier place.

It’s not an overnight activity

Sometimes when the Eight of Cups pops up telling us to leave what no longer serves us we can assume that it’s a case of just getting up and walking away from it all, easy. The Eight of Cups though is about creating long term change, not quick fixes. It’s a card we have to really spend time with and work through, not one to just address and then throw away.

To get you started with this Eight of Cups work, here are a few journal prompts to get you going:

  • What thoughts and behaviours do I have that have a negative impact on my wellbeing?

  • If I could completely change my life overnight, what things would I want to attract and what would I get rid of?

  • How do I feel in myself right now? Am I happy? Am I content? If so why, if not why not?