When someone asks “what if” they are usually worried about the outcome of something they are considering doing. They may be looking for assurances that either the feared event won’t happen or that if it does, everything will somehow be okay.
Although, as readers, we cannot give the assurance that the event won’t happen, we can provide understanding and empathy. More importantly, we can help our querents find hope and empowerment that they’ll need to face the situation if it actually does occur.
1. Their worry
Allow the querent to talk about what they are worried may happen. Let them describe their “what if…?” scenario. Don’t judge them or tell them they are silly to be worried. Don’t make light of it, with a “oh, that will never happen.” They need understanding and empathy. You needn’t believe or agree that their fear is valid. You just need understand why they are afraid or worried. You need to allow that their concern exists before they can move forward. Have the querent select a card that represents the concern and leave that card on the table.
Talk about who or what seemingly has the control in the situation. Also have the querent discuss why they feel they have no control. Have the querent select cards that represent the person or persons in control and lay that card or cards to the left of the first card. Likewise, have them select a card that represents themselves in this situation and lay it to the right of the first card. Consider if there are any hidden strengths in the querent’s card that could be used to insure their fear doesn’t come to pass. This may not be possible, but it is worth considering.
3. What they think may happen
Let the querent explain the various scenarios that they think could happen if the event they are worried about actually happens. Suggest that they imagine at least two different outcomes. At least one may be a worst-case kind of situation. It is important to allow them to talk about it and not diminish their fears. Also encourage them to imagine at least one less dire outcome and, if possible, a best-case scenario. Again, have them select cards representing these situations and lay them below the first three cards.
4. Analyze the situation
With the querent, look at the cards on the table, paying attention to any relationships between the cards. What kind of energy is represented in the first three cards? What kind of energy is present in the various outcomes? Are there any clear connections? Do the cards suggest any possibilities of the querent influencing the outcome? Looking the outcomes, have the querent think of any possible benefits that would result. Help them by pointing out the range of meanings in the cards. For example, if they selected The Tower as the worst-case scenario, remind them that it is a card of cleansing and strengthening, that which was weak will fall about but that which is strong will remain and provide a foundation to build on anew.
By this point, the querent should have a clearer picture of their concerns and a variety of outcomes. They have been heard and their worries have been taken seriously. Naming and recognizing their fears will go a long way in helping them realize that no matter what happens, they still have options and some control.
Remind the querent that no matter what happens, they will still have options. They may not be able to stop something from happening, but they can prepare themselves to deal with it. Frightening situations are easier to handle if they have a game plan. Help the querent create their plans by doing a reading about each of the outcomes. For the worst-case scenario, do a reading about what benefits and options the querent can find and how to make the best of an unfortunate situation. For the best-case scenario, do a reading about how the querent can work with that energy to encourage that outcome.
At the end of reading, by coming up with various possibilities, the querent will have answered their own question: what if…? They will have a clearer picture of their fears. Most importantly, they will have a variety of game plans so that they can face the outcome, whatever it is, with confidence. They will have a restored sense of empowerment and control over their lives.