Dear Vicki: Please can you help me. I am an Earth with three Wood cousins. I have also attracted many Wood friends into my life in recent years. My problem is that they appear to have an overwhelming need to control my life with demands that I live my life their way! This has caused family rifts and the breakup of friendships. The Woods in my life also don’t seem to feel the need to apologize for their actions, even if I often make the first move. What can I do? Signed: Disillusioned Earth
Dear Disillusioned: Your issue, as you might have guessed, is that in the Five Elements model Wood relates to Earth on the Controlling Cycle. That means that too much Wood energy (or too many Woods in your life at once) will feel uncomfortable to you and yes, controlling. The Controlling Cycle is necessary to keep balance in the whole, so it’s automatic for Woods to try to keep Earths from getting too “Earthy.” Also, Woods can be opinionated about many things, especially what is best for Earths. But when you’re on the receiving end of this control, as you have found out, it is often uncomfortable.
Left to their own devices, Woods focus on success and accomplishment. They will be visionaries, planners, and organizers. Unfortunately, they will also assume that everyone wants to live life the way they do. Abraham Maslow said it best: “If your only tool is a hammer, you treat everything like a nail.” Woods really believe that getting ahead, making a difference in the world, and doing things in an efficient manner are important. They just forget that while it’s important to them, it might not be as important to someone else, especially an Earth. Getting along well, deep lasting connections with people, peace, and harmony are much more important to Earths than success and acclaim.
Consider your Wood cousins. They might look at you, a sweet and happy Earth, as lacking the ability to go after accomplishment and success as they define it, and think that you need help. So, they try to guide you in the direction they think you need to go. To you, this will feel like they are trying to control your life. But to them, they are trying to help you achieve what they think you should want to achieve. For the sake of family harmony, you need to speak to them about this, but that can be daunting. Earths abhor confrontation and conflict, and Woods are tough to engage with that way. Their stress response is anger, which is often quite unpleasant. No Earth would voluntarily take on a Wood.
You don’t mention what your secondary element is, but it could well be Metal. Your letter implies unhappiness with the fact that the Woods in your life don’t apologize to you even when you’ve made the first move (which your Earth would naturally do). That respect for protocol sits squarely in Metal and might be the key for getting along better with your cousins and any other Woods in your life. That’s because, while an Earth won’t take on a Wood, a Metal certainly will. Metal controls Wood.
It might be a good idea for you to learn to step into your Metal when you are with the over-zealous Woods in your life. Read up on how Metals act, find that energy in you (if it is your secondary, it should be fairly easy to do) and be more Metal when you interact with the Woods. Be logical, rational, and calculating; this will help keep unwanted Wood energy at bay. You can also wear lots of white when around the Woods. It is Metal’s color and will decrease Wood energy. For that matter, you can encourage the Woods in your life to wear white, too. You could even agree that you will only meet with them in metal places: cars, trains, or structures with lots of metal. However you do it, if you can bring your Metal energy to the front when around the Woods, I suspect you will get on much better with them.
One final thought for you to consider is that, if you’re attracting Woods to you beyond your cousins, it might suggest that your Earth energy is a little out of balance. Have you been a bit more needy, or even weepy, lately? Have you been craving sugar? Have you felt a need to be needed, or even felt guilty or worried about something? These are places Earths can naturally go when they have too much Earth energy. As I mentioned earlier, when around an out of balance Earth, Woods will naturally step in and try to help them balance. It may not be the case for you, but it’s worth considering. If you suspect you might have an excess of Earth, try drinking lemon balm tea and using peppermint oil to balance your Earth. Or, rather than hanging out with Woods who are happy to control you, try wearing green to build your own Wood. I promise it will be a much gentler process than having the Woods in your life overwhelm you.