I vividly remember the first time I saw the Tower card. It was only the second reading I'd ever had—with an astounding psychic named Anna—and yep, it lived up to its hype by shocking me to the core. I don't know if it was the way Anna said (in her wonderful thick Italian accent): 'in the next 3 months, everything go down for you', or if it was the jolt of electricity emanating from the card, but I absolutely knew something big was about to happen. And yep, did the card ever deliver, through a massive awakening and subsequent dramatic shifting of everything in my life at that time—relationships, work, home, you name it.
The Tower card is ruled by the warrior planet Mars, so it means action! And like an ardent fighter, it provokes action by shaking up the status quo. It's a welcome message if you're an adventurous type looking to escape a rut. But if you're like me, and more set in your ways (my astrological chart features plenty of 'fixed' planets that aren't fond of change), then this transformational process can get ugly. For the person who resists the tower's urge for breakthrough, a sharp, sudden catastrophe can lead to longer term catastrophizing. This is when our trauma tries to keep us safe by continually alerting us to signs of upcoming danger...but we don't know that this behaviour is actually keeping us locked in a tall tower of fear. And that's the neat paradox of this card—it actually wants to release you from that fear by making you face it head on.
So, as a former (and okay, occasionally current) catastrophizer, I can tell you this. Sometimes life has a plan that is just way more badass (and maybe more painful) than yours. And we can try everything in our power to outsmart it, but that might lead to even more heartache. This doesn't mean that we just give up, but rather that we learn to build resilience. And no, we don't build resilience by putting on a tough image and faking our way through fear. Believe it or not, we build resilience by being more present in our bodies and patiently connected to our feelings of fear.
Now, if you're dealing with PTSD, something more structured like mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is a great way to understand and deal with downward spirals. Outside of this, the good old 'count to ten' while taking deep breaths is a quick way to get back in touch with our bodies when we feel the rush of stressful thoughts and painful emotions. And setting aside some time each day to express our fear—whether through counselling, journaling, singing or talking with a friend—is also a good way to release stress, bring perspective and regain some control.