Our Relationships with Control

Dear Vicki: I grew up in a family of Woods. My father was an angry, controlling man who was never happy with anything and always wanted more of everything. My mother was primary Earth, but I think her secondary was Wood because she fought for control with my father all the time regarding his abusive ways. Because of this, my home life was out of control and I couldn’t wait to leave. But now that I’m an adult, not only do I avoid Woods, I appear not to have any Wood myself. I’m not competitive and I have trouble with the idea of fairness (I want to ask “Fair to who?” – there are always two sides). In my personal relationships, I’ve avoided trying to control anything, yet my husband tells me I have control issues. Can you help me understand what he means? He’s a Fire and I’m a Metal, if that helps. Signed: Confused About Control in Concord

Dear Concord: I’m sorry to say this, but I agree with your husband – I do think you have control issues. Or more accurately, you have issues with control. And that’s very understandable given your childhood. As a Metal child in a household of battling Woods, your Metal would have been depleted from trying to keep Wood in check in any way available to you (Metal controls Wood). When you add the fact that life unfolding in a proper and controlled way was important to your Metal, it means that your young life was pretty much about control.

What this left you with is a negative attitude toward control, but not just because trying to keep it in place was exhausting. Out of control Wood can be scary, and the fact that you witnessed so much fighting and discord growing up probably created a deep sense of insecurity. In your eyes, Wood became the enemy, so it’s not surprising that you’ve avoided Wood most of your adult life, even the Wood in yourself.

But let’s be clear, you do have Wood; we all do. I suspect that you’re just so uncomfortable with Wood energy, and in fact may deem it dangerous, that you refuse to acknowledge it in yourself. And if it does rear its ugly head, your Metal probably chops it down rather quickly. If this condition of missing Wood is severe enough, it’s called “Wood lacking.” I covered the topic of a “lacking” element in a previous blog (https://5faces.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/metal-mom-becoming-earth/) if you want to read more about it.

What I think is more germane to your question now is the whole issue of your relationship to control. It’s interesting that, in spite of spending your childhood years locked in a Controlling Cycle relationship with your parents, you now find yourself in a Controlling Cycle relationship with your husband (Fire controls Metal). Probably, the idea of someone else being responsible for maintaining control was subconsciously appealing. Also, Metals who fight to keep things in order can become rigid and unbending. The presence of Fire allows Metals to relax, which was also likely appealing. But you have issues with control not just because of your Controlling Cycle relationships. As a Metal, you are wired for control.

Metals move through life valuing guidelines and rules. For Metals, there are right ways to do things, and wrong ways. And because Metals appreciate hierarchy, process, and protocol, they will always opt for doing something the “right” way, at least as they see it. This guarantees excellence, which is a significant value for Metals, and also saves them, and others, from repeating the mistakes of the past. Remember, Metals are the masters of the past – it’s the arena where they review what worked, what didn’t, and decide what should be taken forward.

Even though your Metal wants to skew toward keeping things well oiled and “under control,” I suspect that your childhood experiences fight this because you’ve had such negative experiences around control. But deep in your Metal heart, you probably know that “control” isn’t really a bad thing. Control can be an act of responsibility to provide wellbeing for others. Control can be an act of caring to provide an important outcome for those in need. Control can be an act of support to provide structure for those lacking strength. Control can even be an act of love to provide safety for those close to us.

So once again, I would like to suggest that you have issues around control, rather than control issues, and it could be highly beneficial for you to ponder the beautiful, important, and necessary sides of control. It will also be beneficial if you allow your husband to lead you toward more fun. A little more Fire will help your serious Metal relax. And when it does, try focusing your Metal in the directions you deem beneficial rather than spending energy controlling your own Wood. This will really help.

Oh, and the “fairness to who?” issue you mentioned is a bit of a Water thing. The philosophic discussion of multiple sides of an issue sits in Water, and it was probably an act of desperation on the part of your exhausted Metal to turn the issue over to your Water. That’s actually good, because Water will feed your Wood once you’re comfortable enough with the idea of control to let it grow. Blessings to you!


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