Dear Vicki: I feel terrible admitting this, but my brother and I fight about everything. I spent most of this year arguing with Ted about whether to sell our parent’s house (Mom passed two years ago and we just relocated my father to a retirement home) or keep it for rental income. We disagreed about which facility to place him in (my brother won), what to do with all the furnishings when we moved Dad (my brother won), who should host the holidays (I won only because I pointed out that his house is under renovation), etc. I’m a nurse and Ted’s a doctor, so he often points out that he knows more about everything than I, so I should just do what he says. I’m weary of the fighting and his angry, aggressive attitude toward me. I’d really like peace in the family, so I am seriously considering breaking off ties with him completely. The desire to do this has been especially strong this fall. I hate to tear the family a part, really the idea hurts my heart, but is there ever going to be a way to fix our relationship? Signed: Weary in Wisconsin
Dear Weary: Family dynamics can be especially difficult. As the old saying goes, we pick our friends but are stuck with our family. Your family has been through some difficult times lately, too, with the loss of your mother, the relocation of your father, and the possible sale of your family home. This level of stress tends to bring out the very best, or the very worst, in us all. And while you and your brother may never be best friends, a little understanding might help you get along when you need to. And that is where the Five Elements model can help.
Ted sounds very much like a Wood personality. Wood people appreciate prestige, and our culture certainly holds doctors in high esteem. Ted would have needed a great deal of perseverance to make it though medical school, and Wood people usually have the stamina to push through barriers and succeed at manifesting almost anything. In fact, in the Five Elements model, Wood is represented by the power of spring, an energy that brings forth life from the darkness of winter. You, on the other hand, sound more like an Earth personality. Earth people are usually very caring and compassionate. They want everyone to be happy and are miserable when there is fighting. Few people on the planet are more caring and compassionate than nurses, so your choice of professions also supports the strong likelihood that you are an Earth personality.
If we look at the primary relationship dynamic between Wood people and Earth people as outlined in the Five Elements model, we see that they relate via the Controlling cycle, with Wood controlling Earth. This means that it could feel to you like Ted is trying to get the upper hand when you argue because, in the Five Elements model, it is Wood’s job to make sure that Earth holds strong in the face of too much neediness from others. Left to their own devices, Earths can give so much to others that they deplete themselves physically or emotionally. When faced with an Earth that is giving too much, a Wood personality will often step in and try to control the situation to protect the Earth.
That said, if the Earth personality doesn’t want or need the protection, the sheer presence of the Wood energy will feel very aggressive. And if the Wood person is stressed (what doctor isn’t these days?), their energy could well come across as aggressive. At the very least, disagreements with Ted might definitely feel angry because Woods like to get their own way. Anyone who tries to stop a Wood from getting what they want will absolutely feel the Wood rage. I’m not saying you should send Ted a thank you note for trying to control things, or that his attitude was altruistic (although it might have been). What I am saying is that you need to expect that any interaction you have with Ted could easily take on a sense of feeling controlled because that is the default energy dynamic between the two of you.
However, that doesn’t mean you are doomed to disagree and argue the rest of your lives. Interestingly, in some ways you are already sensing what to do, we just need to put words to it. You mention that you won the argument regarding who should host the holidays by factually pointing out that his house was under renovation. Instead of fighting with him, you used cold, hard logic and he caved. The reason that worked so well for you is that the elemental personality meant to control Wood is Metal, and Metal people are nothing if not logical and rational. Said another way, the logic and rationality of Metal energy is meant to keep the aggressiveness of Wood energy in check.
Another important aspect of the Metal personality is that they can detach from almost anything and walk away. The act of letting go sits in Metal and the very fact that you are seriously considering breaking off ties with Ted says that you are coming from a Metal place. Interestingly, Metal’s season is fall, so that may be why you are feeling the Metal desire to detach more strongly now. But fall is almost over (at least here in the northern hemisphere). Soon it will be winter and therein lies what I think is your greatest opportunity for creating change in your relationship with Ted. Winter is the time for Water energy and Water is all about imagining the new. This could be the perfect time for you to take steps to change how you interact with Ted.
I encourage you to begin by staying as logical and rational as possible when you are around Ted. This will bring a Metal edge to your personality, an edge that will control Ted’s Wood instead of his Wood controlling your Earth. The good news is that we all have all five of the elemental personalities in our being. We are born with a primary elemental personality which becomes the filter through which we interact with the world, but we do have all five in there and can draw on a specific personality’s energy whenever we want. This is your time to draw on your Metal so that you stay as logical and rational as you can around Ted. And there are many ways to help you do this.
The color white builds Metal energy, so wearing white and/or surrounding yourself with it when you are around Ted will help. In fact, any time you can surround Ted with white will help to control his Wood. Wearing a hematite stone around Ted will help you, too. Even better would be if you could convince Ted to wear a hematite, but I realize that might be a long shot. During family gatherings, you might also consider using a room diffuser to spread either lavender or peppermint essential oil throughout the house. These oils are known to balance Wood energy and will likely help keep Ted less aggressive or angry.
The bottom line is that Ted’s Wood personality will probably always feel somewhat controlling to you. But if you can remember this and act accordingly – specifically by staying as logical and rational around him as possible – I believe you will find it much easier to get along with him. He might calm down a bit, too, when he senses less Earth and doesn’t feel the subtle need to control you. And who knows? The newness of the incoming winter energy might actually help you grow to appreciate each other more. Many blessings to you!