There is a popular expression that warns, “Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides,” and it’s particularly good advice for this Libra New Moon season. [The new moon of October 16 was in Libra.] Libra, as the relationship sign, symbolizes a keen awareness of others that can work to our advantage in relationships and in certain careers, too. But that same awareness can become a liability when it leads us to draw comparisons between ourselves and others – comparisons that can damage self-esteem and breed envy.
We humans are social animals, and we take our cues about what to do and be and desire from watching the people around us. The problem is that we rarely have access to the full story behind their outward appearances. We may envy a man for driving a new, expensive vehicle, yet for all we know he may park that car in front of a dumpy apartment building each night. Most of us admire the sleek figure of a supermodel, but is there a healthy, happy woman inside that beautiful body? Possibly not, if rumors about eating disorders in the modeling business are to be believed.
Born with the Moon in the seventh house – the house associated with Libra – I confess that I spend a lot more time and energy than I should comparing myself with other people. This friend has a more graceful home; that one has a sweeter personality; the other, more clients. All that energy wasted on anxiety, envy, and guilt! It’s as disempowering as when I used to leaf through fashion magazines in my twenties and compare myself to their unrealistic images of feminine beauty.
I wasn’t always this way, though. Years ago, before I became an astrologer, I was a musician. I never recall looking over my shoulder to figure out which musicians were better or more successful than I was; all I cared about was expressing myself exactly the way I wanted to. But as I developed more musical skill, I occasionally dealt with fellow musicians who were envious of me. I always wondered: why were they so focused on what I was doing instead of simply concentrating on sharpening their own abilities?
Now that I’ve moved on to a career that is less suited to rugged individualism and much more Libran in its emphasis on counseling and salesmanship, I understand envy a bit better. It’s all good and well to become skilled at the technical parts of my job, but it’s not enough; to make a living, an astrologer has to become skilled at reading people, not just their charts, and to market herself in a way others find appealing. Somehow I’ve gotten it into my head that my colleagues have figured this stuff out in a way that I haven’t, and I can’t seem to stop comparing my achievements with theirs. Are their websites more popular than mine, their mailing lists larger, their resumes more impressive? What do they know that I don’t?
Being ruled by comparisons is odious. But is it ever a good thing, a healthy thing to cultivate a heightened awareness of other people? Of course. Being sensitive to others is the basis of a society’s laws and rules of etiquette. Growing up, we learn social skills by comparing ourselves to our parents, our brothers and sisters, and our playmates, who show us how to behave and let us know when we’ve stepped out of line. In astrology, this civilizing process is symbolized by Libra. How attuned are we to the needs of others? How adept at blending into society, at least to the extent necessary to stay out of jail and enjoy the occasional dinner party?
Looking back at my musician days, it’s clear that while I didn’t suffer the pain of constant comparisons and envy, my lack of social grace made me an insensitive and ineffective collaborator. I often made tactless comments, insisted on having my own way, and generally played poorly with others. Had I made a career in music, I’m not sure I’d have developed any social skills at all; I might well have ended up with success in my work but none at all in my personal life.
Becoming an astrologer has civilized me a bit, even if (and perhaps because) it has made me more vulnerable to criticism and comparisons. To be of any value as an astrologer I’ve had to nurture the promise of my seventh house Moon, with its ability to get inside another’s skin and see the world through their eyes. But developing a heightened awareness of others can be a difficult skill to switch off at the end of the day. When you spend too much time looking through another’s eyes, it can be all too easy to lose track of your own truth.
As the (very Libran) adage goes, “Moderation is best in all things.” Marching to the beat of your own drum, Aries-style, is vitally important, but so, too, is knowing how to appeal to your audience and how to connect with other people in an effective way. Most of us are a little more comfortable at one end of the spectrum than the other, but each of us can learn to navigate the balancing act more deftly.
The Full Moon in Aries earlier this month offered valuable preparation for this New Moon season by reminding us to love what we are, pursue our dreams, and let our individual lights shine. A strong self of self makes us less vulnerable to Libra’s shadow side of envy and of comparing our insides to other people’s outsides. At this New Moon, let the Libra spirit add the polish of sensitivity and balance to your Aries self-confidence – a lovely lampshade that needn’t obscure your individual light in order to soften it to a warm, inviting glow.
April Elliott Kent has been a professional astrologer since 1990 and is a longtime member of both ISAR and NCGR. A regular contributor to Llewellyn’s Moon Sign Book and The Mountain Astrologer magazine, she has also contributed articles to the websites MoonCircles.com, Beliefnet.com, and AOL Horoscopes. Her first book, Star Guide to Weddings, was published in 2008 by Llewellyn Worldwide. April lives in San Diego with her husband of 15 years and their two cats. She can be reached by email; enjoy her web site Big Sky Astrology.