Dear Vicki: Jim and I met at a holiday party last year and really hit it off. This may sound crazy, but time with him felt sort of healing to me, like he was an antidote to the craziness of the season. I’m the oldest of five kids and even though we’re all grown, since both of our parents died in an accident a few years ago I feel a responsibility to make sure that the holidays are great for everyone. Do I go overboard? Yes. Am I usually exhausted by the end of the season? Yes. But last year was different. Jim was such a calming presence. We had amazing talks about the meaning of the season and did lots of quiet things together. It felt quite nurturing. But lately, he’s driving me crazy. As the weather has warmed, I want to be busy again, but he doesn’t. And while time with him used to feel great, now it feels like he’s slowing me down, which angers and frustrates me. Was this just a holiday thing? I thought he might be “the one,” but now I’m not so sure. Signed: Confused in California
Dear Confused: The holidays can be a magical time for many of us and it’s often hard to get back to the “normalness” of every day life once they are over. You are also facing the shift from the quiet yin time of winter into the building activity time of spring’s new yang. Spring make us all want to get going on projects in one way or another. How we react to these seasonal tendencies will vary depending on what our primary elements are, but we all feel these seasonal patterns.
You don’t mention what elements you and Jim are, but it’s easy to make some assumptions. Your tendency to take charge of your siblings during the holidays and make sure that everyone has a wonderful time in spite of your parents being gone sounds like a Wood. They value fairness and have the energy to make things happen. They are also the elemental personality most likely to go overboard with almost anything. Jim, on the other hand, sounds like a Water. His desire to engage in quieter activities and discuss meaningful topics is absolutely Water. They are also the element most likely to feel nurturing to a Wood because Wood and Water relate on the Nurturing Cycle in the Five Elements model. Specifically, Water feeds Wood. If this is an accurate assumption, and you two do relate on the Nurturing Cycle, then what happened? Why are things so different for you now that winter has turned to spring? Actually, there’s a very simple answer.
Jim’s Water energy absolutely did feed you when you first connected last winter. And it felt good to you because it’s traditionally a time you deplete yourself by going overboard for the holidays. Jim’s Water feeding you allowed you to do more and feel less wiped out. Also, his Water yin tendencies steered you toward quieter activities, which kept you from overdoing. I’m not saying there wasn’t a wonderful chemistry between you and Jim, but there was also an important energy exchange between you that allowed Jim’s Water energy to feed your Wood. But then spring arrived and the game changed.
Spring is Wood time, a time when all of us feel more energetic (think spring housecleaning, spring fever, etc.). Your whole life, this spring energy has fed your Wood in a positive way. But this spring, it sounds like the combination of this natural incoming Wood energy and Jim’s Water energy feeding you is creating an instability in you. Anger and frustration are signs of imbalance in a Wood personality. However, anger is usually too much Wood energy and frustration can indicate too little. So what’s going on?
The universal energy that comes in during a season is the pure energy of that season. Spring energy is Wood energy. It’s the energy of acceleration and power. It is custom designed for you, as a Wood, and will fit you like a glove. It doesn’t necessarily feed you as much as it adds to you. In spring, all of us are a bit more Wood because our Wood energy, wherever it sits in our energetic make-up, is enhanced.
On the other hand, Water energy feeds Wood to keep it nurtured and alive. This increase to Wood is more organic and definitely not a seasonal thing. There are lots of ways to build an element’s energy – we’ve discussed many of them over the years in this blog – and they are there to help maintain balance, which is the goal of the whole Five Elements model. Hanging out with a Water person is a wonderful way to build energy for a Wood as long as they don’t go overboard. As odd as it may sound, too much Water energy can lead to a state of deficient Wood. That’s because excess Water rots Wood and decreases it. You can think of this as a built-in protection feature of the Nurturing Cycle that prevents a prolonged state of excess energy in case the Controlling Cycle intervention isn’t readily available for some reason.
So this is all very theoretically fascinating, I’m sure, but what does it mean for you and Jim? Do you need to avoid him every spring? No, you don’t. But what you do need to do is balance yourself. Swings in energy like this usually occur when we don’t have stability in our own basic energies. I think your Wood is vulnerable to these swings between excess and deficiency because it basically isn’t stable. There are many ways to bring more stability to your Wood energy and they involve getting in touch with your own expression of the two elements that act directly on your Wood: Water nurtures it and Metal controls it.
First, like most Woods, you are probably trying to do too much. Pare back on your activity level even though spring is calling you to be more active right now. The wisdom of the Five Elements model says that to prevent Wood deficiency, you do need Water energy, but it should come from you, not Jim or anyone else. Become a Water for a while. Take time to rest and be introspective. Are there aspects of your life you avoid by being busy? If so, ponder them. Pondering is a Water activity, and so is reading. Find a good book and dive in.
The other element you will need to embrace to bring balance to your core Wood is Metal. Deficient Wood energy can occur when we have too much Metal (Metal controls Wood), so you need to be sure that your Metal energy is in balance. If your parents both passed away recently, have you processed all you need to around their loss? Grief sits in Metal and unprocessed grief can create a Metal imbalance. Examine your Metal (and possibly your relationship with grief) to make sure everything is good. Endings also sit in Metal. Have you settled your parent’s estate? Is there anything left hanging that bothers you? Use some of your Water time to ponder this, then use your Metal to finalize anything that needs to be finalized.
The bottom line here is that I suspect Jim, your Water honey, will be exactly who you need to get started with a new phase of your life because beginnings sit in Water. But you need to be sure your own Metal and Water are ready to let go and begin again. Otherwise, prolonged time with Jim will probably always end up seeming like too much Water drowning your Wood. Blessings to you!