Dear Vicki: My younger sister Pam recently married a guy she’s madly in love with who she met at college. Brad’s controlling, opinionated, and frankly, totally boring, which is so the opposite of Pam. She’s funny and outgoing; we used to have such great times together. And now, I really don’t know what she sees in him. Brad’s in law school and for Pam’s sake, I hope he does well. Anyway, the problem I’m having is that at family gatherings, when Brad asks me how work is going (I’m a marketing specialist for a large outdoor gear firm), I feel a need to justify everything: why I have that job, how well the company is doing, when I might get promoted, etc. It’s ridiculous and I really think I’m growing to hate him. Whenever he asks me anything I feel like there’s such judgment behind his question. I’ve mentioned this to my mother and she says I’m over-reacting. I don’t think so because it feels so real. But maybe I am. Is the dynamic between us my fault? If so, what can I do? I don’t want to hurt Pam. Signed: Angry in Alaska
Dear Angry: When we have an immediate negative reaction to someone, it’s rarely anyone’s fault. That kind of thing usually occurs due to energy interactions because there hasn’t been time to get to know the person well enough to dislike them. In your case, you have had time to get to know Brad well enough to have an opinion about him, so there are several reasons you might be having problems with him. As Pam’s older sister, you might not think Brad is good enough for her. You might also be slightly jealous that he has become a priority in her life, leaving less time for you and Pam to share the “great times” you used to have. You might hate lawyers. The possibilities are endless. But I believe there is always an energetic component to our relationships, so let’s take a look at what might be going on between you and Brad.
You don’t mention what the primary elements might be of the people involved, but from what you’ve shared we can make a pretty good guess. Given your occupation and the fact that you are angry about Brad (rather than sad, depressed, etc.), I suspect you’re a Wood. Marketing, sales, promotional activities, etc. require an ability to plan and look toward the future, and the future is the realm of Wood. Also, when stressed or upset, Woods typically go to anger or frustration. So it’s a pretty safe bet that you are a Wood. Pam is probably a Fire. Funny and outgoing is the trademark of most Fires. Also, they can be a bit dramatic, so being “madly in love” would also fit a Fire. And Brad, well, my guess is that he’s a Metal. Law school, probing questions, opinionated, these all fit Metal. And given this mix of characters, it’s easy to see what’s happening.
You and Pam relate via the Nurturing Cycle, with your Wood feeding Pam’s Fire. Nurturing Cycle relationships usually feel comfortable and good, and as long as Pam didn’t get out of control, your Wood would appreciate her Fire’s ability to help “lighten you up.” This is something Brad probably appreciates about Pam, too. Even thought they relate on the Controlling Cycle, which will feel threatening to Brad if Pam gets too fiery (Fire melts Metal), most Metal guys appreciate Fire gals because they add much-needed fun to their otherwise very serious lives. And Pam will appreciate the sense of structure Brad brings to her life (Fires usually have poor boundaries and little structure). You and Brad also relate on the Controlling Cycle, but it’s the rare Wood that instantly appreciates the pruning Metal offers Wood. And I believe this is the crux of the situation for you.
It’s not uncommon for some Woods to feel threatened just being around Metal people. Metal energy is meant to control Wood and if a Wood senses Metal energy, they can react to this feeling of control by feeling judged and found unworthy. Please remember this happens at a very subtle level, but it can be perceptive enough to cause a reaction. And the reaction is usually exactly what happens to you. A Wood who feels judged will justify what matters most to them: their success and accomplishments. Of course you tell Brad exactly how great your job is, how well your company is doing, and how eminent a promotion might be. This is your way of neutralizing the energy you feel coming from him. So is the way you react to Brad your fault? Sort of. It’s your inherent reaction to Brad’s energy, especially if Brad has too much Metal energy going for him these days, which is very likely if he is in law school. Detail and minutiae are the name of the game in the study of law, so he is probably a super Metal these days. But worry not, there is much you can do.
First, when you know you are going to see Brad, make sure you are balanced. Nothing creates a cutting reaction in Metal like too much Wood energy. If you think you do have too much Wood (you are easily frustrated or angry and are consistently impatient), you might take steps to manage your own energy. This can include starting each day with a cup of hot lemon water, using peppermint or lavender essential oils, and frequently placing the middle finger of each hand at the outside corners of your eyes and resting them there lightly for two minutes. All of this will balance Wood.
Then, when you know you are going to be with Brad, you can take steps to keep his Metal energy in check around you. This can include wearing red (the color of Fire, which softens his Metal), keeping candles lit at the gathering (more Fire), playing flute music in the background (breathy music balances Metal), and serving spicy foods (the heat of the food decreases Metal). Also, Metals can be very finicky about temperatures, so keeping the environment warm (but not too hot or cold) will also help. And finally, since Pam is a Fire, you can try to arrange that she is present whenever you are conversing with Brad.
These are short term fixes to help you manage around your new brother-in-law. Long term, I suggest you challenge yourself to see Brad through Pam’s loving eyes, not your understandably reactionary responses. In truth, Brad could be an incredible ally for you. Often, the most gorgeous expressions of wood are created with the artist’s metal knife. Blessings to you.