Dear Vicki: I like your blog but haven’t seen many questions from guys. Here’s one and I hope you can help me; I’m having a problem with my sister, Anita. I’m 24 and she’s 22 and we’ve been close most of our lives. We are both working our way up the corporate ladder, although in different companies, and months ago set up to go to a business seminar together in a nearby city. We planned to drive there and back with each other and make a whole day of it. I know I’d been looking forward to it, and I think Anita had, too. Well, last week she called and told me that while she will drive to the event with me, she’s going to go straight from it to a “girls only” party at a friend’s nearby cabin. Now, I’m a big boy and can certainly drive home alone, but it feels like she’s dumping me and part of our time together for something else, which sort of sucks. Signed, Dumped Dude
Dear Dumped Dude: It’s very interesting that both you and your sister would end up in business. And that you are both “working your way up the corporate ladder” implies that you must both be primary Wood personalities. Wood people do well in business and, given their emphasis on the future, are usually very focused on getting ahead. The big difference between you and Anita is in the secondary element of your personalities. Anita’s ability to quickly change plans, especially in the name of fun, suggests she has Fire as her secondary personality. Your hurt at her changing plans suggests you probably have Earth as your secondary personality.
It’s very understandable that you would feel dumped by your sister. Your Wood personality will have specific expectations for your time together with Anita and those expectations matter. Also, Wood is the planning element and honoring plans, once made, also matters a lot to Wood people. On the surface, it would seem that, as a fellow Wood, Anita should feel the same way. And at one level, she probably does. If you asked her, I’m sure she’d say that the time with you and your plans together are very important to her. So why did she change them slightly and why is it bothering you so much? The answer lies in the significant difference between your secondary elemental personalities.
Your secondary Earth personality will feel slighted by the loss of the time you had planned with your sister. Earth is the energy of connection and your Earth has probably been looking forward to the ride home with Anita to debrief about the event. And even though you would probably rather eat weeds than attend a “girl’s only” cabin party, at an energetic level, your Earth personality is also probably feeling a bit left out that you weren’t included. Being part of things matters a lot to Earth people, even when that Earth is only their secondary personality. Also, Wood decreases Earth on the Controlling Cycle, so her matter-of-fact Wood announcement that she was not going to do the return drive with you is likely hurting your Earth, as well.
For Anita, even though her Wood personality will tend to honor plans, her secondary Fire energy can burn that Wood structure when it wants to (Wood feeds Fire on the Nurturing Cycle) and leap to a new plan for any number of reasons. Fun with girlfriends is a Fiery reason, but the efficiency of going directly from the event to the nearby cabin is a Wood reason. Wood people love efficiency. Also, Wood personalities are logical and rational (not as much as Metal personalities, but they are a close second), so it probably makes great sense to Anita to go from the event to the party. It may not even have crossed her mind that doing so might upset you. That level of consideration usually sits in Earth, which as you have stated, is neither Anita’s primary nor secondary personality style.
In truth, what is really going on here is a clash between your Wood/Earth issues of honoring plans and wanting connection and her Wood/Fire appreciation of efficiency and the opportunity for additional fun. So, what can you do?
Sadly, I suspect your Earth probably isn’t going to allow you to do much. If we were dealing with just the primary reality of two Woods, you would see the efficiency of her going straight to the cabin from the event and it would be a non-issue. And honestly, you could tell Anita that you are disappointed that your time with her is going to be cut short. She would understand and might even change her new plans because, as a Wood personality, she would see the fairness of holding to your original plans. But I suspect your secondary Earth energy won’t want to ruin anything for her, especially when you know she’s looking forward to it, so won’t be comfortable raising the issue.
But here’s a possibility for a small win-win: Instead of saying something that might cause Anita to miss her party, why don’t you set up a time for lunch together as soon as possible after the event and debrief then? Sharing time over food will literally and figuratively feed your Earth energy. It won’t be as immediate as driving home together, but it will give the Earth part of your personality a follow-up connection and the opportunity to discuss your shared experience. This way, your Earth energy will feel good that you didn’t interfere with her Fire fun, and both of your Wood energies can appreciate the plans you’ve made and the efficiency of a slight alteration. Of the three elemental personalities involved here, it is your Earth energy that cares the most that everyone is happy, so letting it lead will take you to the best possible outcome on this issue. Wish Anita well and follow up with her later. Blessings to you (and Anita)!