An Interesting Twist: Earth Controlling Wood?

Dear Vicki: This may seem like a petty issue, but my sister is driving me crazy. We run a successful restaurant together – I’m the business manager and she’s the chef – but she just can’t get things done quickly. She’s a fantastic cook, and very creative in how she has decorated the place, but she takes forever planning menus, deciding on new china or wallpaper, or even leaving at night when we close the restaurant. We live near each other so travel together, and at night she must run back into the building at least three times to check if she started soaking this or turned off that. I love the restaurant and my sister, but she’s driving me nuts. It’s clear she’s an Earth, and I’m a Wood, which means that I’m on her Controlling Cycle, right? So why is she the one controlling me, and what can I do about it? Signed Not Really in Charge:

Dear Not Really: This is an interesting challenge for you. Yes, you and your sister do relate on the Controlling Cycle where it is your Wood that controls her Earth. But while you’re the manager of the restaurant, which is very important, people usually come to a restaurant to enjoy the food and ambiance, which is your sister’s bailiwick. Your normal Wood desire to charge forward on everything will, by necessity, be restrained by the fact that she is the guiding light for the important parts of the restaurant, at least the parts that matter to your patrons. In this way, she can, and probably does, control your behavior. And it’s no surprise you don’t like it. Woods really don’t like to be controlled.

The good news for you is that this joint venture with your sister is successful – clearly you’re doing a lot right. Even more good news is that you and your sister have found professions that suit each of you well. Earths usually love cooking and Woods are usually excellent managers. The bad news is that you are unhappy and frustrated. So let’s look at that in a way that will make sense to you.

Woods are logical, forward-thinking people who establish a goal and then run toward it full steam ahead. Stopping isn’t an option and detours are tolerated only when necessary. Moving forward becomes its own goal for a Wood. So when your sister suggests you paint the interior of the restaurant a lovely shade of yellow (a good Earth color that stimulates the energy of the spleen and can improve digestion and metabolism) and you agree, you want to get it done. However, before acting she will want to ponder the possible shades of yellow and determine not only what will go best with the rest of the décor, but also what décor will need to change to support the new wall color. For you that means, BAM! You’ve hit a brick wall and aren’t moving forward. Never a pleasant feeling for a Wood.

You mention that when you are ready to leave for home, your sister often runs back into the restaurant to check that everything is as it should be. This is a typically Earth trait. Home is everything to Earths. It sounds like your sister has put her heart and soul into the restaurant, which makes it a lot like a home for her. This means she will be as protective and attached to your restaurant as she is to her home. And because her actions and skills are the reasons people come to the restaurant, you’re very lucky she feels this way about the restaurant. The more she loves it, the better she will make it. I realize that knowing this doesn’t necessarily help the fact that you feel controlled by her. But I’d like to suggest that perhaps you really aren’t feeling controlled as much as you’re feeling stymied or frustrated that your expectations aren’t being met.

Because they are quintessential planners, Woods easily develop expectations. If you’re going to change the menu, great! Let’s do it now before our busy season starts. But if your sister needs time to ponder the ramifications of the changes, her timing isn’t going to meet your expectations. She isn’t doing it to upset you, she’s just being true to herself. It would be a little like you telling her you think you should change accountants and her suggesting you do it immediately. You will wisely want time to consider the options before making such an important decision and won’t want to act right away.

In truth, you both have your areas of expertise and need to honor that. And to make this easier on your Wood, I’d like to offer a few suggestions. 1) Try resetting your expectations around your sister. She isn’t a Wood, will never be a Wood, so don’t expect her to act like a Wood. But you can be the Wood for her. When you are ready to walk out of the restaurant at night, pause and ask her if she needs to take anything with her or do anything before leaving. This might prompt her to address issues before she gets in the car. It will also help if she’s in too much of an Earthy place because your Wood will control her Earth. 2) Try practicing patience (never a strong point for Woods) with her whenever necessary. Patience is always the growing edge for a Wood. 3) It’s possible you might have too much Wood energy at times, and if you think this could be the case, you can wear white, drink dandelion tea, or ask your sister to place more green plants in the restaurant. All of this will help balance your Wood.

The bottom line is that you and your sister represent a key duality of the human condition: You are the brains, she is the heart. Both are crucial to the whole, both have wisdom to offer, but in very different ways. And like any duality, neither controls the other. It is the balance between the two that keeps the whole alive and vibrant. The success of your restaurant shows that you can managed this duality when focused solely on work, so with a little bit of focus and attention you should be able to manage it with each other. This will make your Wood happy. Good luck!


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