If you’ve ever wondered why you have a few bad habits, or a few negative personality traits that keep coming back and affecting your life, it might help to look at the personality traits inherent to your Chinese zodiac sign.
“When it comes to having an honest look at who we truly are, each of us [exhibits] some toxic behavior,” Laurent Langlais, an astrologer and Feng Shui expert, tells Bustle. “The good news is that they often come from the tendencies of our sign, and that we can really work on them.” Depending on the year you were born, you’ll be one of these 12 Chinese zodiac signs: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog or Pig.
“The sign ruling our year of birth gives some general tendencies,” that might impact our lives Langlais says. “Some will be great assets, such as the courage of the Tiger or the cheerfulness of the Monkey. Some are toxic qualities associated with each sign: the ‘shadow side.’ It exists for all of us to learn lessons through our sign to advance spiritually. Once we integrate this duality, we can then move on to being whole.”
Of course not everyone will identify with all traits associated with their Chinese zodiac sign, but learning more about them can give you further insights into your personality, and how to balance out some of the more negative traits. Here are the things most toxic about each sign, as well as tips for finding balance.
Rat: They Can Be Pessimistic
While it’s fine to be a bit negative at times, it might be easy for Rats to fall into a rut, and take their pessimism to an unhealthy level. This habit drags them down, but can also begin to affect others, who may start to feel negative just by being around them, Langlais says.
So, for the Rat’s sake, and the sake of their friends and family, it’s important that they be aware of this tendency, and do what they can to balance it out. “The most important aspect for the Rat is to socialize and have a good support system,” Langlais says. By being honest about their negativity, and seeking to keep it in check, Rats can essentially rid themselves of this habit.
Ox: They Can Be Stubborn
While it’s great that the Ox is methodical and organized, “they can become toxic when they are unable to see other ways of doing things,” Langlais says. “They then become extremely stubborn and closed to any suggestion.”
It’s their whole “my way or the highway” mentality that can start to rub others the wrong way. “In relationships, it can become very [difficult],” Langlais says. Oxen may not be able to see past their own point, Langlias says, and can also be tricky to get along with at work, for this very reason.
That’s why, it’s often helpful for the Ox to remain aware of this stubborn streak, and make efforts to challenge it. As Langlais says, “Learning to bend is the most important for them to evolve well.”
Tiger: They Can Be Overly Ambitious
Tigers are often seen as brave, courageous, and ambitious. “They are natural born leaders, or at least achievers in their career,” Langlais says. But when taken to the extreme, their ambition can make it easy for them to push others around.
“Their toxic quality is … that their ambition can sometimes become aggressive or cruel,” he says. Others might feel like Tigers step over them in work environments, on their quest to reach their goals.
So, to balance their ambitious side with fairness, Tigers should keep the idea of teamwork in mind. As Langlais says, “The shadow side of the Tiger is to learn to win without hurting others: in other words, to learn that their ambition must follow a strong morality and fairness to be justified.”
Rabbit: They Can Be Irresponsible
Rabbits are often highly sensual and spontaneous folks. But, like all good things, these positive traits can get out of hand. “The Rabbit can become totally driven by its natural instincts and lose sight of its goals,” Langlais says. “Even worse, Rabbits can become … irresponsible. This tendency can extend to their approach in love, as Rabbits then become butterflies and can cause pain to their partner by being promiscuous or flirty.” And if their partner isn’t OK with that, it can really hurt.
It’s key that Rabbits take time to pause and consider their loved ones, before jumping into things. If they want to have successful relationships, they’ll need to keep their partner’s feelings in mind, and think before they act.
Dragon: They Can Get Caught Up In Fantasy
Dragons have incredible leadership skills, which is one reason why they make great bosses. But just because they seem level-headed and hardworking in the office, that doesn’t mean they’re always that level-headed in their personal life.
As Langlais says, it might be easy for Dragons to get lost in their rich, inner fantasy world. “They are a mythical beast for a reason, and can sometimes believe the world only answers to their dreams. They can then completely lose touch with reality, which isolates them from the rest of the world.”
This way of thinking, when not kept in balance, can lead down a difficult path, where Dragons may begin to believe the rules of society don’t apply to them. So it’s a helpful that they keep this tendency in mind and fight back with more logical thinking, when necessary.
Snake: They Might Hold Grudges
For snakes, their negative tendencies might be found in their inability to let things go. “A Snake that has been hurt [might] plan its revenge for years, and will bite you at your weakest, when you least expect it,” Langlais says. “It seems fair to them, even if you thought that it was water under the bridge.” Unfortunately, snakes might hold grudges, and can easily be eaten up by their own emotions. That’s why snakes can benefit from taking a step back and seeing things for what they really are.
“Show them how much smarter and more evolved it is to settle differences in a civilized way, and how they waste their energy on planning revenge when they could otherwise advance in their career and life,” Langlais says. This is a much better use of a snake’s energy.
Horse: They Can Be Impulsive
Horses are one of the strongest signs of the Chinese zodiac. But they also might impulsive, and that can get them into trouble. “They can … become way too direct, and their spontaneity turns into bluntness often hurtful to other signs,” Langlais says. “If they have something on their mind, they [might] say it, no matter what it does to [others] emotionally.”
And that’s why Horses need to practice thinking before they speak. “The shadow side of the Horse is to understand that not all truths are good to say, or at least that they must choose the timing and way to say them wisely,” he says. With practice, even the most outspoken Horse can learn when and where it’s OK to share their thoughts.
Goat: They Might Be Careless
Goats are carefree folks, but might cross the line into careless if they are not careful. “They can become self-absorbed,” Langlais says. “It can often limit their career evolution, or make finding a partner difficult.”
To make sure Goats don’t stand in their own way, they should learn to channel their carefree energy into something constructive. Once they find a healthy way to express themselves, Goats can begin to reel in their potentially careless ways, and turn it into something positive.
Monkey: They May Not Take Things Seriously
Monkeys are fun to be around, and they’re great at cheering others up with their positivity. But it’s common for them to be too playful, and come off as immature. For instance, they might try to “escape responsibilities with jokes and tricks, and hardly consider anything serious enough for them to change their ways,” Langlais says.
Since this can rub others the wrong way — and get them into trouble — Monkeys should always keep in mind that life is about balance. As Langlais says, “It’s not easy to change their personalities when adults, but you can always try to negotiate a fun way for them to take on responsibilities: such as cleaning their house while dancing, or experimenting with everyday cooking.” That way, Monkeys can be themselves, and get things done.
Rooster: They Might Be Self-Centered
Roosters are magnetic, and when in leadership roles, are often admired by others. But it might be easy for such attention to get to their heads. “[They might] believe the whole world revolves around them,” Langlais says. “It can be difficult for them to be good team players, as they think they are the main driving force in everything.”
To balance it out, Roosters should keep in mind that kindness, generosity, and humility are also admirable traits. By practicing these things, they’ll be winning even more admirers.
Dog: They May Lack Motivation
Just like Monkeys, Dogs don’t have too much of a “dark” side, or any traits that can easily be pointed to as toxic. Usually, they’re known for the unending loyalty and support.
Dogs should, however, keep an eye out for any aggressive tendencies the might have, as well as lack of motivation — two shadow traits some Dogs may experience.
“The shadow side of the Dog is … to either have too much aggressiveness, or not enough drive to succeed and become totally unambitious,” Langlais says. “To help the Dogs to get more in life, you basically have to show them the middle way.”
Pig: They may go Overboard
Pigs love the finer things in life, and know how to soak up good times. But they might go overboard, and live a life of too much leisure, if they aren’t careful.
“The shadow side of the Pig is to get caught into earthbound pleasures, and forget about discipline to progress and fulfill their own potential,” Langlais says. The good news is that — as with all signs — Pigs can easily balance their negative tendencies, by walking a middle path.
Every trait is fine in moderation. Toxicity only forms when we go overboard in any one direction. For signs that feel like they might be living a toxic life, it can help to evaluate these traits, and make an effort to keep them in check.