Our identities are built upon foundations of core beliefs we hold dear. Some are productive, reassuring, and helpful, but others, when left unchecked, can reinforce our most destructive view of ourselves and the world. So in the spirit of renovations and makeovers, I’m proposing a closer look at the most potentially insidious beliefs hidden within each zodiac sign. A solid, healthy emotional foundation may not feel as fun to “renovate” as an overflowing bookshelf or seasonal wardrobe, but there’s a profound joy that comes with Marie Kondo-ing your personal baggage, of identifying what needs to be released and what needs to be rebuilt anew.
Recognize that not winning doesn’t mean losing.
Aries loves to win win win, and sometimes the love of being number one is simply a tonic to distract from the fear of being number zero. The nature of the ram is fundamentally competitive; you are the sign of the baby (the original “I’m baby,” if you will), and your experience of being first in line comes paired with an anxiety that… what if you weren’t? This implies a belief that not winning means losing, and the underlying logic is very zero-sum. A way out of your own hierarchical shadow is to recognize that self-worth doesn’t collapse vertically, and seeing the rest of the world a little more dimensionally will help you recognize that your value has nothing to do with where you are on a list.
Remind yourself that you are enough.
For you bulls, one good thing is good, and more of a good thing is even better. Though you’re composed on the surface, you’ve got a deep inner hunger for indulgences that mean something to you. That could be cozy sweaters, leisurely mornings even if you’re late, dessert after brunch, etc. But your tendency to cling to your rituals and possessions could spring from a troubling perception that you’ll never have enough. We do live in a world of limited resources, but this concern becomes a more malignant paranoia when it attaches to you: “You are bad with money.” “You will never have enough.” “You need to grab all you can now because you’ll never have another opportunity.” The facts rarely support such a view, and the way out is to notice when you’re consuming or buying to soothe anxiety. You can still make your purchase, but recognizing the impulse—rather than immediately feeding it—is the first step to making it go away.
Rethink the presumption that you need to be interesting for people to like you.
Geminis crave connection with others. Connection is how information is transferred, and you are the communication ports of the zodiac. But that two-way exchange can often imply an underlying anxiety or belief that you have to be all things to all people in order to earn the privilege of their attention. And because you’re a talented talker, it can be tempting to constantly recalibrate your vibe to find the *real* parts of you that jam with whomever you’re trying to impress at the time. But you’re allowed to be boring, Gemini! You’re allowed to not charm the world with your little witticisms and bon mots—even if you’ve been stockpiling them for a lifetime. They are nice, but they are not the totality of you. You are always, always enough.
Don’t retreat from the world.
The world actually is a fundamentally dangerous place, so it makes sense you’d want to hang back. But it’s also a) wonderful, and b) all we’ve got. Cancers are the most fearful of all signs, and your origin myth revolves around childhood trauma. So you’ve likely developed some sophisticated mechanisms to protect yourself from the proverbial first wound that disrupted your happy young existence. Defenses are not always bad, but yours may mask an upsetting and untrue assumption that you’re constantly under threat. But Cancer, setting yourself apart as a singular opponent to your environment will only ever really make you an opponent to yourself. And you, along with the rest of society, are your most precious resource. You don’t have to let your guard all the way down (it keeps you safe!), but you’ll want to poke a hole or two to let in some fresh air. It’s nice out here.
Realize that you are worthy of love.
Leos are the sign of self-esteem! When your ego is healthy and well-integrated, you’re a dazzling light show of grace, generosity, and beauty. But when you’re overcompensating, it could be to conceal the fear that you are unworthy of love. The isolation of that belief is total; it prevents you from trusting any of the connectivity you might experience with other people. If people don’t like you, that’s proof of your theory; if they do, sure, but for how long? Realize that you’re resting on this insecurity and accept it. If you can’t accept it—if you find you’re judging yourself or feeling shame—then try to accept that, too. Because the simple act of you allowing for all the parts of your personality to exist, even the difficult ones, is an act of self-love you won’t be able to refuse.
Give yourself permission to feel good about yourself.
Virgos are seen as being self-sacrificing and compliant, so it often gets missed how incredibly strong and not-to-be-fucked-with you are. Your slavish devotion to your ideals is admirable, and your contributions to your relationships and community cannot be overstated. But you eat trophies for breakfast and keep on trucking, because there’s work to be done and who else is going to do it? Your work ethic is an expression of your values: You can feel good about yourself when you’ve performed your duty. And the fact that your duties are never-ending, well… too bad for you, right? I’m not sure that you can truly “earn” your own self-esteem, because your right to be happy with yourself cannot be conditional. You can’t violate that contract, Virgo, and the terms aren’t fair to you anyway. It may feel uncomfortable to give yourself credit that isn’t tied to productivity, but that’s okay. You’ll improve with practice.
Rely on your self-esteem, not what others think.
This one is a pure externalization of affirmation, which is a specifically Libran difficulty. You are the sign of the second person (you vs. I), and the joy of collaborating with others is built into your DNA. That’s your strength, and it makes you delightful to be around and work with. But that can manifest in an eternal hunt for approval and attention—as long as it’s not your own. Looking inward and seeing yourself will never feel as good as a flattering reflection in someone else’s corneas, right? Well, you have to try it to find out, Libra. It doesn’t mean you have to abandon the sugary rush of feeling popular or charming (duh, that’s never going away) or divesting of the shallow vanities that give you life. But remember that the most important reflection is self-reflection, and your good taste springs from the reality that you are good.
Trust your nearest and dearest.
Scorpios are so fascinating because they are so formidable and so vulnerable at the same time. Because you forget nothing, it takes you longer to get over injuries and slights (and the world is truly full of them), which further extends your horizon of trust. Your reputation for testing people when they get close to you is well earned, because you’re always at the ready to be betrayed once again. You are proof that confidence, competence, and self-possession will not protect against loss and grief, and you want to keep your soft heart soft—so you entrust very few to really see it. But being able to confront your own pain is one thing; being able to share it, with no strings attached, with someone else is the next level of healing. Because nurturing yourself by yourself doesn’t really do the trick. You’re powerful, but even you need the love (and trust) of others.
Know that you are smart enough.
If you keep talking, eventually you find something worth saying, Sagittarius. Your Scheherazadean talent for discourse has made you indispensable to so many conversations. But that gift was not necessarily stumbled upon so innocently. Your gift of gab and love of scholarly pursuits may be armour you wear to protect yourself from the fear that deep down, you’re not as clever or inherently smart as you wish you were. The thing is, Sagittarius, that if your life were an academic proof, you’d have to concede to your own brilliance. It would simply follow from the evidence you’ve presented over and over and over. But internal anxieties are surprisingly resistant to logic and reason, and to deal with this, you may want to posit another thought experiment: What if you don’t need to be smart to be okay with yourself? That one has an easy answer, but it may keep you busy for decades.
Take the weight of the world off your shoulders.
Capricorn is pure mommy and daddy energy, taking the lead when needed, playing the patient counselor, providing stability in the face of uncertainty. You are underrated for your ability to nurture others, and, like any good manager or parent, you are dynamic and flexible in your role of taking care of everything. But what you get from being high functioning isn’t just its own rewards; it may be your way of coping with an uncomfortable suspicion that, deep down, you’re not a responsible or competent person. That can spiral into a sense of powerlessness, which you abhor and defend against with all you’ve got. But before you take up arms, try to sit with that feeling a little bit. You won’t open the door to chaos, but you will start to realize that you are not the glue that holds everything together—and you don’t have to be. And even if you do nothing with that freedom, it’s worth having.
Embrace shades of gray rather than black and white thinking.
For all of your brilliance, Aquarians, you do tend to be fond of one particular kind of intellectual shortcut: black and white thinking. It’s a compelling framework when you can apply it, because it simplifies the world, flattening every decision to one test. But you’re a complex soul who will invariably violate one of your many personal axioms (many of which probably contradict each other). Then, suddenly, you’ll be forced to reframe your sense of self. But this pendulum swinging isn’t necessary (or productive)—it’s not more noble to stick to rigid abstractions when your own messy humanity is right there, begging for some nuanced appreciation. Don’t cling to tightly to the rules in your head, and trust that you are a person navigating infinite variables, and that you’re actually doing it quite well.
Stop making all the sacrifices in your relationships.
Pisces love a solid martyr scenario, and there are plenty of takers on the other side of that equation if you know where to look. Now, a lot of good things in this world really do demand a lot in return, and that’s where you get it absolutely right. A fulfilling career, child-rearing, partnership, ballet, etc. But where things get slippery is when you come to fetishize and enshrine the feeling of giving up as a necessary dynamic in your most important relationships. Giving is a beautiful thing, but it must be done freely and without a sense of obligation, even if that obligation is coming from inside the house. Take a beat to recognize the difference between how it feels to give your time and energy from a place of abundance, comfort, and leisure vs. feeling locked into ritualistic sacrifice. You are not the thing you have to give up to experience real love.
Graphic by Coco Lashar.