The Right Thinks the Left Should Be Stronger


Sometimes he keeps his mouth shut about it, but sometimes he's a cruel overlord, bullying my other half into silent guilt.

My right side is confident and self-assured, its foot rooted firm to the earth, unwilling to be pushed into submission or deference to another's will, resolute in taking only those actions I pick for myself. He's nobody's pushover. This right side is unafraid and faithful. Deeply he knows I am right where I need to be (is that why he's the right side?), but occasionally resorts to rushing me along, to preemptively head off what someone else might have to say about where I should be. He's constantly reminding me, 'I have nothing to do but become more myself. I need not be perfect, or even good. Just me, truly and fully. The rest will happen as it will happen…' though can't always keep himself from adding, '…now, shut up!'

His mostly reassuring words serve me well, when I am able to hear them. But Mr. Right Side doesn't always get his insistent affirmations to the surface of consciousness, especially when his alter ego on the left has something to say. Or rather, whimper.

My left side is tender, soft and sweet… and often paralyzed by what-if scenarios that spook his sense of safety. He's faced terrifying scenes when I was all by myself (well, they were terrifying to him, if not 'objectively' so) and had to develop the best-possible game plans to get me through and get me out. His favored tactics: to please and impress and obey… more to the point, to smilingly withstand. (They worked at the time.) The left side is too sensitive to know what else to do; he knows so much, the resulting immobility sometimes pains him. He's not quite sure I'm where he wants me to be, but adaptable enough to make anything—even the bitter corporeality of earthly incarnation—work. He floats, a wisp.

Both sides are me, but they are far from equal. Their tug-of-war brings an anxiety born of feelings that seem at odds. How can I be at once so self-confident and so afraid?

Polarity is as basic a concept as adding one plus one to equal two, and which usually makes more sense when adding an apple to another apple, or a Jessica to a Nick, than in self-contained abstraction. Less clear are we on the inner polarities within our own personality. It hardly seems logical, for instance, to describe ourselves as both introvert and extrovert, though we know they often see a charismatic character while we feel bashfully bumbling. We, of the Western mind, love our polarities, so long as we are not charged with the mammoth task of (re)uniting them into Edenic wholeness, especially in relation to our own experience of fractured self. We squeeze the less appealing pole into the repressive confines of our shadow-self, or we cast someone else in the role and play out the struggle in the external theater of relationships.

A favorite critique lodged against astrology comes from smart-alecks who defiantly conclude, after reading a Sun-sign horoscope or two, 'All of these horoscopes read as if they were written to me… that's why astrology is bunk…' as if they're the first to ever think of it. We astrologers are a savvier bunch than that, and we know there's a reason why any given reader can find a bit or a bunch of himself in every sign. When you broaden your astrological view, from simplified horoscope columns to a comprehensive natal chart (the basic unit of personality-centered astrology), you discover every individual does indeed have every sign in him somewhere. A chart is a wheel, a circle upon which the full zodiac cycle is overlain. Even if we may not have a natal planet placed in every sign, they all show up as influences in the unique character of the twelve natal houses.

And because every chart is a circle containing all twelve zodiac signs somewhere in its scope, every chart—and the personality dynamics symbolized by it—also contains six polarities, or pairs of signs that oppose each other, requiring balance and integration… Aries-Libra, Taurus-Scorpio, Gemini-Sagittarius, Cancer-Capricorn, Leo-Aquarius, and Virgo-Pisces.

We usually consider the signs in isolation, concentrating our focus on the qualities represented by our Sun sign or other signs prominent in our charts, rather than in continual dynamic dialogue with their polar opposites. But astrology always works best when considering the whole picture, not its fragmented parts. After all, it's a tool for bringing us awareness of all our parts, so we can act more consciously in a way that honors all of our unavoidably conflicting insides.

We study the signs we know best—first and foremost, our Sun sign; then, for those who get deeper into astrology, our rising sign and our Moon sign and other signs where our natal planets are placed. In this manner, we learn about our natural tendencies, gaining greater acceptance of why we feel how we do, why we have certain instinctive reactions, why we conceptualize ourselves around a certain type of self-identity.

The signs that show up emphasized in our charts, and especially our Sun sign, are the gifts we've been given to 'make it' in this life. They are our survival tools… and our most comfortable weak-spot fall-back options, sometimes blinding us to what else we could do, with a little more effort and imagination.

That's where the polarities come in handy—to impart behavioral clues for breaking out of old patterns and doing things differently.

When we're unable to see past our own noses, the signs opposing our comfort zones in the polarity appear to us in projected form, in other people and the qualities we attract, envy, fear or scorn in them. Why? Because we are out of touch with our own inner versions.

A strong Capricorn type can balance her ambitious drive for outer-world recognition with a little Cancerian nurturance, if she can learn to value her private moments of self-care as greatly as her public achievements. A politely comprising Libran could get more of what he wanted by borrowing a me-first forceful thing or two from the Aries blueprint. Once we become more fully aware of our favored side of each polarity, then we can use the more foreign or uncomfortable other side as a goal for groundbreaking integrative progress.

Full Moons, such as Wednesday's in the sign of Virgo, are the perfect occasions for exploring the lesser-obvious poles of our multi-selved personalities. At each Full Moon, the Sun and Moon are in opposing signs, highlighting the balance begging to be struck in its given polarity—in this week's case, the Virgo-Pisces polarity of rational order vs. mystical chaos, earthly control vs. spiritual surrender. It's no wonder Full Moons have the reputation for causing lunatic craziness in those who keep certain parts of themselves pushed out of their knowing perception. What is such 'craziness' if not the unconscious eruption of these unintegrated sides of personality, desperate to be heard, into being?

My left side is crying… out of love and compassion, not sadness. An emotional release. It's glad to be heard.

For this time, at least, my right side silently greets the absolving weep. Strength wears different faces.

My right side kicks its meaty leg up into the air, a cheerleader for itself and its underappreciated twin to the left. It says, soothingly, 'You're coming along just fine. I appreciate our different rates of progress. Take your time. We're in this together.'