Dear Vicki: I read your blog regularly and have enjoyed learning about the elemental personalities. Based on what you’ve written, I think I may be a primary Fire personality because, before I had children, I loved going to parties, I was very spontaneous, and would often say yes to something before I thought it through. My problem is that my best friend in the world moved away six months ago for an exciting opportunity as a corporate planner with a large firm. Maisy loves the job, but I really miss her. For several months I’ve been telling her how much I miss her and she always asks when we’re going to get together. I have three young children, so can’t easily travel, and Maisy doesn’t have much vacation time yet, so we haven’t been together since she moved. Last night, while talking on the phone, I told her again how much I miss her and she exploded, asking me why I keep telling her that if I’m not going to do anything about it. What is going on? Signed, Missing Maisy
Dear Missing Maisy: This is an interesting problem, and one that really makes sense when you consider the elemental personalities involved. It does sound like you are a primary Fire personality for all the reasons you shared in your letter. As a Fire, you do want connections and will miss them when they are gone. The other elemental personality that really values connections, especially long-term ones, is the Earth personality. And since you have three small children and clearly must love being a mom, I suspect you probably have Earth as your secondary elemental personality.
Being a Fire/Earth personality combination will make connections all the more important to you. It will also make letting go of long-term relationships of any kind that much harder. With both Fire and Earth energy as the dominant force in your personality, it will be very natural – and truly a compliment from your soul – to tell Maisy how much you miss her whenever you can. But it’s clear that Maisy doesn’t get your meaning, which likely has to do with her elemental personality.
I suspect that Maisy is a primary Wood personality. Wood people usually do quite well in planning positions given their focus on the future. They also generally enjoy a structured corporate environment where the path for getting ahead is clear. For Maisy, as a Wood personality, telling her that you miss her is interpreted as telling her that you have a problem. She cares about you and will want to find ways to fix things for you. The fix for missing her is to go see her, and that’s where Maisy probably trips up. In her Wood personality mind, if missing her is a real problem, you should be willing to do what it takes to fix your problem.
However, your inability to go see her while you keep telling her you miss her, becomes an unfixable problem, something the Wood personality dislikes. Because Wood people pride themselves on their ability to fix things, being regularly faced with an unfixable problem will stress a Wood person to the point of frustration. It’s like having an itch you can’t scratch. And the more you tell her that you miss her – which to you is a form of compliment – the more frustrated she can get.
So, what can you do? Remind yourself that at her new job, Maisy is probably under a great deal of stress trying to fit in and perform well (very important to Wood personalities). That stress, plus whatever stress she has over your relationship, has likely created a situation where her Wood energy is out of balance. At work, she’s concerned about what people want and need from her and is probably pressuring herself to “deliver,” which would ramp up her Wood energy even more. And despite the distance between you, her relationship with you can also feel stressful.
That’s because the two of you relate on the Nurturing Cycle with her Wood feeding your Fire. And while this is usually nurturing for both, there are times when relationships with a Fire person can feel “demanding” to an out of balance Wood person and just one more expectation or responsibility they have to manage. This means that it’s possible when you tell her you miss her, Maisy feels that you expect her to fix the problem, which of course, you don’t.
Another aspect of dealing with an overwhelmed (and thus, out of balance) Wood person is that when you tell Maisy you miss her, it’s possible that you actually evoke a silent rebuttal from her that says you really don’t miss her that much because if you did, you would stop telling her you miss her and just go visit her. Remember that Wood is the “Just do it!” element and a balanced Wood person with a problem will almost always automatically take the necessary steps to fix the problem. Through an unbalanced Maisy’s eyes, you aren’t taking steps to fix missing her, therefore you aren’t being genuine when you say you miss her. It isn’t true, of course, but that is a place an unbalanced Wood personality can go.
I suggest that you have a long talk with Maisy over a weekend when, hopefully, her stress levels are lower. Explain that when you say you miss her, you aren’t expecting anyone to fix anything. It’s just a way to let her know how important she is to you, how much you treasured your past times together, and that you really look forward to more fun times in the future when getting together again becomes an option.
And until that time, try telling her you miss her a little less and instead, stay plugged into what she is doing now. Ask questions about her job, her new home, her new friends. Share with her what’s going on for you. Stay connected to her as best you can from a distance and you might even find that you miss her less because you’re relating to her more. I guarantee that will stop the fighting. Blessings to you and Maisy!