Dear Vicki: I have a lot of anger surfacing these days. I am over-the-top angry with the political campaigns and the way people are being treated, but recently realized it parallels how certain family members treated me in the past. I let them get away with it, had compassion for their bad behavior, and didn’t really acknowledge how I felt about being disrespected and judged. Finally, two years ago I stepped away from these relationships. At first I felt fantastic, but now my anger at the campaigning has made me realize that I am angry at myself for being a doormat all those years. I even have conversations with myself about this sometimes and deeply regret my lack of action. I am a Metal/Fire, but am turning into a roaring Wood. I read your blog and notice that you often suggest environmental ways to help balance an element. Can you help me? Signed: Angry in Atlanta
Dear Angry: Let me say that it’s truly amazing how many people, especially women, have approached me via this blog and my private practice to express anger at the way groups of people are being treated by specific candidates this year. Individual rights matter in America, and when those aren’t respected it can bring up issues for all of us. I think that’s happening now as part of the presidential campaign in a way we didn’t expect as a country. So, you are not alone in feeling angry, but let’s look at how this is affecting you and what we can do to shift the pattern.
Remember that we all have all five elements in our make up and can draw on them at will when we need what they have to offer. If we are not a primary Fire but need to be more outgoing in a particular situation, we can tap our Fire. If we need compassion, we can tap our Earth, etc. And sometimes, a specific element can step to the front of the line to help us process something we need to process. I think that’s what is happening for you.
While you might normally be a Metal/Fire, right now it sounds like your Wood is ready to process the anger it feels at the Earth part of you that stood in compassion for people and allowed them to treat you poorly. Your Wood also sounds upset that your Earth took so long to step away from these people. The good news is that your Earth did finally step away! Earth has a very hard time ending relationships, especially family relationships. And since Wood controls Earth, your Wood might also be upset at itself for not stepping in sooner and balancing the over-compassionate Earth. The conversations you’re having in your head about what you should have said or wished you’d said also indicate an out of balance Earth.
The fact that you have regrets says that your Metal is also involved. Metal governs the past and regrets are based on past experiences. In fact, I’m wondering if your Metal is a little deficient right now. Regrets can indicate that Metal has not let go of a decision previously made. Since it is Metal’s job to help keep Wood in balance (Metal controls Wood), an over-abundance of Wood usually indicates that Metal isn’t up to the task of controlling Wood. Finally, if you are low in Metal, it could be because your Wood has over-controlled Earth to the point that there isn’t enough Earth to feed your Metal.
So, it sounds like you have an imbalance between your Earth, Metal, and Wood, with the end result manifesting as out of balance, excess Wood. In the Five Elements model, a prolonged state of too much Wood is always due to not enough Metal to control the Wood. However, I don’t think just adding Metal to your environment will be enough (although it might be and you can certainly try it). I suspect that the too much Wood condition is coming from not enough Metal because there isn’t enough Earth to feed it. Especially enough yin Earth to be kind and compassionate with yourself. You had a lot of yang Earth in the past that was kind and compassionate toward others, but now you need that same level of compassion for yourself.
There are several ways to help you with this. To build your Earth, try to spend as much time outdoors in nature as you can. Not only will this increase your Earth energy and enable it to feed Metal, it will also be calming for your Wood. If you like the color yellow, surrounding yourself with yellow flowers, clothing, or anything else yellow will help build Earth. Drinking lemon balm tea will build Earth, too, as will inhaling small amounts of peppermint essential oil. To really get things going, you can simultaneously work to build your Metal by spending your Earth outdoor time in the mountains. The vistas provided by the mountains feed Metal, as does listening to flute or pan pipe music. And while your Wood may be using the American election cycle to process unresolved anger, you can take heart in the fact that the elections will be over in less than one month. I hope you vote.