Dear Vicki: I’m writing about my husband. He’s a great guy and a good provider, but he’s always been a workaholic. He wanted to get ahead in his job and he did. He’s been the CEO of a small accounting firm for years, but now it’s in the midst of being taken over by a larger firm. Dan fought it, but the Board thought it was a good move, and it probably is for everyone except him; he’ll be out. Dan has always been a fighter, and his anger was a force to be reckoned with, but a few months ago that changed. Instead of an angry bull, now he’s sullen and withdrawn. I could manage his anger, but I’m not sure what to do with this. I’ve studied the Five Elements some and always thought Dan was a Wood personality, but now I’m not so sure. How can I help him? Signed: Worried Wife
Dear Worried: Dan is blessed to have such a caring wife. And while there is much you can do to help him, it goes without saying that he may also need the help of a professional counselor, so please do keep that in mind. Dan does sound like he has a Wood personality. The need for personal accomplishment accompanied with some form of recognition (title, financial rewards, visibility, etc.) does matter a great deal to Woods. They are most happy when they can keep moving toward that goal. But if something gets in their way, an out of balance Wood will succumb to anger. For them, the outward expression of anger still feels like movement, although it’s rarely very productive. In fact, the prolonged expression of anger usually ends up being counter-productive for the situation and harmful for Woods and the people closest to them. Few Woods actually want to be angry all the time and I think this is what’s driving Dan’s behavior right now. Let me explain.
When a Wood expresses anger, it’s usually because something they want to do or see happen isn’t unfolding as they would like. Woods in positions of authority often learn that the occasional angry outburst will motivate employees (and family members) to get things going to avoid additional outbursts of anger. Not a great management technique, but sadly successful in many cases. Fortunately, most Woods eventually come to the understanding that their anger isn’t doing anyone any good. When that happens, and the Wood realizes that nothing they do will get the desired results, if they are energetically balanced they will assess the situation and change tactics. But if they are unable to do this because they are either unbalanced or unable to find an alternative tactic, to avoid the continued expression of anger, a Wood can shut themselves down. And yes, this can look a lot like depression.
In Dan’s case, it sounds like he has been unable to control the events in his firm that are leading to this merger, a merger that will force him out of the management position that provides him with the accomplishments his Wood desires. Since being out of control is another major button-pusher for Woods, it’s pretty likely that Dan is an energetically out of balance Wood these days and has shut himself down to prevent ongoing explosions of anger. To help him, in addition to suggesting the potential of counseling, you will need to know what kind of energetic support his Wood needs. The good news is that the Five Elements model will give us the answer.
Remember that in the Five Elements model every element affects every other element to help keep the whole in balance. In Dan’s case, if he has too much Wood energy (a likely suspect given his angry outbursts), it is Metal energy that needs to move across the Controlling Cycle to prune some of his Wood. However, if he has too little Wood (also possible given he has shut himself down lately), it is Water that needs to move around the Nurturing Cycle to feed his Wood. Because Dan is currently shut down, I believe it is Water energy that will help him the most at this time. For future reference, when Dan is back to his more normal self and experiences anger, it will be Metal energy that will help him the most, and we have discussed ways to bring in Metal energy many times in this blog.
To bring more Water energy to Dan now, you can certainly suggest a vacation near water, encourage him to drink ginseng tea, or insist he wear blue clothing, all of which will help nudge his Water in the right direction. But this will probably fall on deaf ears. Instead, what will help Dan the most right now is to offer him what Water really feeds to Wood, and that is ideas. Water is the seat of imagination and it is newly-imagined ideas that Water gives Wood to bring into manifestation.
It sounds to me like Dan has no idea of what he will do next. You don’t mention his age, but if he is near retirement, you might engage him in discussions of what the future can be when you are retired. He is likely to receive some kind of financial package when he leaves the firm, and while that is usually small compensation to a Wood for the loss of a prestigious position, it will certainly facilitate a discussion of “next steps.” And if Dan isn’t near retirement age, it will provide a necessary cushion as he explores the myriad possibilities for next steps.
The good news for you is that Woods are planners. Their natural area of focus is the future, which is one reason they make such good managers. Right now Dan needs help imagining his future and because you know his past so well you are the perfect person to help him envision it. Once a Wood sees the future they want to create, they are usually off and running. If you can help Dan see that vision, help him imagine the world after he leaves the firm, his Wood energy will do the rest. Blessings to you, and Dan!