Nurture vs. Control: Nurturing is Best, Right?

Dear Vicki: Your recent posts about how the five elements can feel controlling to us in relationships were pretty good; I learned a lot. But they left me with a question: Should I just avoid close relationships with people who are on my Controlling Cycle? As a Wood, I’m guessing that I’ll always feel uncomfortable around Metals, even balanced ones, so maybe I should go for relationship with the elements that sit on my Nurturing Cycle. That has to create better relationships, doesn’t it? Signed: Catching On in Connecticut

Dear Catching On: Thank you for your kind words about my blog posts. I’m very glad you are learning a lot, and I’m even gladder that you have written in with your excellent question. There is so much that goes into creating relationships that I fear you will be in big trouble if you chose only to relate to Water or Fire people (the elements that sit on your Nurturing Cycle). First, you will probably be unable to accomplish this because some relationships are dictated by our occupations. Unless you work by yourself or own the place where you work, you will likely have little say regarding co-worker selection. Second, when love strikes, I suspect it can’t be relied on to honor your intention regarding Nurturing Cycle relationships. And that’s as it should be; love often provides our richest growth opportunities. Third, and most importantly, the whole point of understanding how the different elements interact with each other is to facilitate our ability to get along with anyone.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, please remember that when you understand what’s important to each of the elements, what motivates them, what they need to be happy, what upsets them and why, you have at your fingertips all that you need to get along with them. And while as a Wood you think you may never feel completely comfortable with Metals, I will respectfully disagree. I’m a primary Wood married to a Metal and it’s a fantastic relationship! Do I have to remind myself from time to time that his basic outlook on the world is different from mine? Absolutely! But so often that difference ends up helping me. I’ll give you an example.

As you have undoubtedly experienced, the realm of Wood is the future; we love to plan and make things happen. The realm of Metal is the past; they love to synthesize what’s happened and learn from it. So often, as I’m planning something for us to do, my husband will remind me what did or didn’t work out so well before. “You want to go there again? The food has been terrible the last two times we’ve been there.” Or, “Don’t forget there’s still road work on Interstate 90; you’d better take a different route.” What would I do without his help? (Eat bad food and get stuck in horrible traffic, among other things.)

The point is that the elements balance and support each other in different ways; we need the decreasing support of the elements that relate to us on the Controlling Cycle as much as we need the increasing support of the elements that relate to us on the Nurturing Cycle. And to answer your question, Nurturing Cycle connections do not automatically create better relationships. As was said in all of the posts about Controlling Cycle relationships, it honestly comes down to how balanced we are personally. It’s the same for Nurturing Cycle relationships. Too much or too little of a Nurturing element in a relationship is just as bad as too much or too little of a Controlling element. To help illustrate this, here are some examples of how Nurturing Cycle relationships can feel terrible for each of the elements.

Water: As one of the least structured elements, Water loves to flow wherever imagination takes it. Interestingly, its Nurturing Cycle mates are Metal and Wood, the two most structured elements. We can say that energetically, Metal feeds Water information to use for inspiration. Too much Metal energy will overwhelm Water and cause it to get completely wrapped up in its own ideas. We see this as a person who is narcissistic and intolerant. But too little Metal energy will starve Water of the material it needs to generate ideas, creating a person who is empty and hopeless. In order for Water to thrive, it needs a balanced amount of energy from Metal.

Wood: As one of the most structured elements, Wood has the ability to envision a future and the structure to hold the course to create it. Interestingly, its Nurturing Cycle mates are Water and Fire, the two least structured elements. We can say that energetically, Water feeds Wood concepts to use for planning. Too much Water energy will rot Wood and destroy its ability to stay the course. We see this as a person who is impatient and angry. But too little Water energy will starve Wood of the ideas it needs to envision the future, creating a person who is indecisive and frustrated. In order for Wood to thrive, it needs a balanced amount of energy from Water.

Fire: As the least structured element, Fire loves to jump wherever its heart and attention takes it. Its Nurturing Cycle mates are Wood, which provides a degree of structure, and Earth, which provides a safe place to land. We can say that energetically, Wood feeds Fire accomplishments to celebrate. Too much Wood energy will overwhelm Fire, causing it to burn too bright (and eventually deplete itself). We see this as a person who is anxious and panicky. But too little Wood energy will starve Fire of the fuel it needs to be its joyful self, creating a person who is scattered and overwhelmed. In order for Fire to thrive, it needs a balanced amount of energy from Wood.

Earth: The element of balance and home, Earth creates a sense of place for the other elements and facilitates their grounding. Interestingly, its Nurturing Cycle mates are Fire and Metal, the least structured and the most structured of the elements. Earth is the element that can hold these two in balance. We can say that energetically, Fire feeds Earth the energy of attraction it can use to create relationships. Too much Fire energy will overwhelm Earth with more connecting energy than it can use, but it will keep trying. We see this as a person who is meddling and worried. But too little Fire energy will starve Earth of the energy needed to trust relationships, creating a person who is needy and clingy. In order for Earth to thrive, it needs a balanced amount of energy from Fire.

Metal: As the most structured element, Metal lives to synthesize experience then create process and protocol from this synthesis. Its Nurturing Cycle mates are Earth and Water, which provide Metal with sense of place (Earth) and a degree of flexibility (Water). We can say that energetically, Earth provides Metal with grounding and a place to anchor its structures. Too much Earth energy will over stimulate Metal, creating too much structure. We see this as a person who is inflexible and controlling. But too little Earth energy will deprive Metal of the grounding its structures need, creating a person who is critical and confused. In order for Metal to thrive, it needs a balanced amount of energy from Earth.

The bottom line is that every relationship can either be awesome or the pits, regardless of whether you relate via the Nurturing or Controlling cycles. If we put balanced energy into a relationship, we can have a good relationship. If we are out of balance ourselves, the relationship will suffer. Then, what makes a relationship really great is the ability to understand each other enough to be caring and compassionate in the good times and the bad. That’s great relationships!

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