Dear Vicki: Abby, my close friend and business partner, has been acting very strange lately. We have a small public relations firm and she’s the organization and power behind it. I’m the enthusiasm and presentation side. It’s worked out really well and our little firm has grown steadily over the past five years. The problem is that our business is stalling right now because Abby hasn’t been very organized or powerful lately. She’s been low-key, distant, and sort of stuck in the past. When I ask her what’s going on, she denies that anything is wrong. I know her only daughter recently moved out of state, but Abby made it through a contentious divorce a few years ago, so I can’t imagine Shelley’s move would affect her this way. As her business partner, I feel it is my responsibility to let Abby know we need her to snap out of it. What can I do to help Abby get back in the saddle? Signed, Losing Steam
Dear Losing Steam: It appears that you and Abby have a great set-up in your business. As the organization and power behind your firm, I suspect that Abby’s normal elemental personality is Wood. As we have said here many times, Wood people are focused visionaries who are great at running things. You, on the other hand, sound like a primary Fire personality. Fire people are nothing if not enthusiastic. They also are comfortable in front of others, which makes them excellent actors, salespeople, and presenters. Finally, you and Abby relate to each other on the Nurturing Cycle of the Five Elements model, with Abby’s Wood feeding your Fire, which as long as you both stay balanced, works great for everyone.
I believe that the key to your current problem rests in the fact that, at the moment, Abby is not a balanced Wood personality. In fact, I think it’s possible that she isn’t acting from her Wood personality at all these days and that’s what’s hurting your business. It sounds like what’s happening for Abby is that she’s experiencing a temporary stint as an out of balance Metal personality. When you describe Abby’s behavior as low-key, reserved, and stuck in the past, you are definitely describing characteristics of an out of balance Metal person.
Remember that we all have all five of the elemental personalities in our make-up, we just lead with our primary personality the bulk of the time. However, there are times when difficult life experiences thrust us into a different aspect of our personality range as a way to cope. I think that is what’s going on for Abby. It’s completely possible that the grief she is feeling at losing her daughter’s presence on a day-to-day basis has put her in a Metal place. A divorce, especially if contentious, would bring out her Wood if she felt the need to fight for what was fair. But losing a daughter, even just to an out-of-state move, could well bring on grief, which is definitely an aspect of the out or balance Metal personality.
The good news is that this is probably only a temporary situation for Abby as she processes her daughter’s recent relocation. And there are several ways you can help Abby move through this time more quickly. First, try being available to her as her friend rather than her business partner. You can ask how she feels about Shelley’s move and how soon she’s planning to go visit. Wood people look to the future, while Metal people look to the past. You can help Abby move out of this Metal place and back into her Wood energy by encouraging her to plan a future trip to see her daughter, which will emphasize what Abby can look forward to, not what she has lost.
Another way to help Abby get back into her Wood is to bring on your Fire. Abby could be stuck in a self-limiting loop where her temporary Metal personality is controlling her primary Wood personality. In the Five Elements model, Metal and Wood relate via the Controlling Cycle, with Metal controlling Wood. If this is the case, until her Metal energy eases up, it will be hard for her to find her Wood energy to get back in that saddle. But in the model, Fire and Metal also relate on the Controlling Cycle, with Fire controlling Metal. So as a Fire personality, you can melt Abby’s Metal personality a bit and help loosen its grip on her Wood personality. Try things like inviting her out for activities you know she finds fun. Help her laugh. Encourage her on projects where you know she’s passionate. All of this will help tone down the Metal place she’s in and rev up her Wood personality. But take it easy on the Fire – remember Fire burns Wood for fuel!
Finally, if it’s possible for you to offer Abby a philosophic perspective on her daughter’s move without sounding dismissive, that will help, as well. Water is very philosophic, and in the Five Elements model it also feeds Wood. Art and creativity, as well as inspiration, also sit in Water, so anything you can do that’s Watery will help encourage Abby’s Wood personality to grow back into itself. But again, be careful not to overdo it. Too much Water rots Wood.
Bottom line, if you approach Abby as a fun, caring friend, it’s very likely that you will be able to help ease her over-expressed Metal grief and bring back the focus and drive of her primary Wood personality. Blessings to you and Abby!