Dodging Arrows


Relating stirs up feelings in all of us from time to time, but sometimes a partner’s emotional reaction may feel like it is aimed straight at you. In romantic relationships, Cupid’s arrow is but the first of many. In other kinds of relationships, you are also likely to be greeted by the occasional pointed stick.

Do you ever get upset when someone expresses feelings to you? The card DODGING ARROWS invites you to consider new ways to be with someone when they are reacting emotionally, at those times when some sharply pointed sticks seem to be flying in your direction.

Many times, the way one partner expresses their emotions provokes a counterreaction from the other partner. This can be thought of as taking a flying arrow in the belly. At such a time, your partner may not really mean to provoke a reaction, but it feels like that to you, nonetheless.

Arrows come in many forms – criticism, name-calling, a judgmental tone of voice, blaming, crying, yelling. There are countless ways we can be stung. Each arrow might enter us deeply, bringing up our own feelings of anger, guilt, fear, hurt, inadequacy, or despair. In response, we may try to fix the situation, correct the reasoning of our partner, or make them feel better. Normally all this backfires, so we end up shooting arrows back in self-defense – or we shut down.

This card asks you to do something far more constructive than counterreacting or shutting down when your partner is upset: Dodge each arrow – no matter what form it takes. Instead of taking an arrow in the belly, simply move out of the way, and let it pass by you.

To dodge arrows, you need to remember a few key things. First, when a partner expresses upset feelings they’re not being rational, nor do they necessarily mean anything they say. At such a time, to argue with them or take anything personally is exactly like running toward an arrow. They are, in fact, letting emotional energy release. If you stand in their way – by doing anything other than just listening – it’s like trying to cork a geyser. You will block their feelings from releasing. Blocking emotions only causes them to build in intensity.

So, do not – repeat: Do Not – take anything personally. Do not correct, disagree, or try to fix anything. Do not argue over a point or try to make a point. Remember, a point is what you find at the tip of an arrow. Just let each arrow fly by. Give it plenty of free space. Don’t touch it! But at the same time, don’t simply space out or withdraw.

Instead, stay centered and grounded. Breathe fully – and keep on breathing! Dodging arrows is is far more constructive than counterreacting. It is a skill you can learn. But be gentle with yourself, since it can take some time to master this skill. Always let yourself call “time out” if too many arrows seem to be hitting you – and you feel the urge to react. Go for a walk, and start breathing! Tell your partner that you will return to talk again later, when you are better able to listen.

When dodging arrows, know that your simple presence with a partner as they let feelings release will be appreciated greatly. It is a rare gift, one that shows you have uncommon strength – the strength to just listen, and do nothing more.