Dear Vicki: Almost five years ago, my good friend Lanny and I started a business helping local restaurants get leftover food to homeless people. Lanny did most of the planning and was definitely the energy behind making it happen. I did the analysis and created the process necessary to get the food where it needed to go. I also managed our books. It was a small operation, just the two of us, but we felt good about it. Two years ago, my son became seriously ill. I had to leave our business, but Lanny kept it going. Several months ago, there was an article in our newspaper about the business with a quote from one of the people we had helped together thanking Lanny for all she’d done to make such a difference. She was quoted as thanking him, but she never mentioned me. I’m sure this seems petty, but I don’t understand why she didn’t acknowledge all I’d done to help start and run the business. How could a friend do that? Signed: Left Out
Dear Left Out: It’s difficult to feel ignored when praise is passed out, especially when you were half of the team that created the company. And since you’ve only been out of the company for two years, Lanny clearly can’t have forgotten all you contributed. Also, you don’t mention it in your letter, but you might be wondering if Lanny purposely left out any mention of your contributions. Let’s look at the likely dynamic between you and Lanny and see if we can’t bring some understanding to this situation.
It’s no surprise that you and Lanny were able to start and successfully run a company. If you contributed analysis and process to the founding of the company, it is likely you are a primary Metal personality. And the fact that Lanny contributed planning and motive energy makes me suspect that she is a primary Wood personality. Also, given the nature of the company you created, I suspect you both have strong secondary Earth personalities. Earth people are usually the ones who care about the less fortunate ones in society. It is a beautiful company you created, but with her Wood and your Metal, you probably could have done absolutely anything! But maybe not smoothly.
In the Five Elements model, Metal and Wood relate via the Controlling Cycle, with your Metal controlling her Wood. This means it’s possible that Lanny could have felt controlled or held back by you at times. Ask yourself if you ever felt that it was your “job” to keep Lanny in check. These are subtle dynamics, but the Metal personality likes to be in control, so you might have naturally stepped into a slightly controlling position in the business relationship. And since Metal people also have a tendency to run their lives by the “right” way to do things, it’s not surprising you are bothered by the fact that Lanny didn’t mention you in the article. You were a key part of the company and honestly, it is perfectly “right” that you should be acknowledged.
From Lanny’s perspective, as a primary Wood personality, her focus will be on success and accomplishment, especially as it relates to her. This is not to say that Wood people are egotistical monomaniacs; they usually aren’t. But individual accomplishment is very important to them. Also, Wood people hate feeling like things are out of control, which might be exactly how Lanny felt when you had to leave the business two years ago. In her mind, she may feel that since she’s the one who kept the boat afloat, so to speak, she deserves the kudos. With a sick son, it was completely understandable that you left, but Lanny could have felt hurt or even betrayed. And when that happens, the Wood personality can be rather good at pruning the offending person out of their life.
So, what should you do? I suggest you turn to your secondary elemental personality, which as I mentioned, I strongly suspect is Earth. To start and run the company you did suggests that both you and Lanny have a great deal of Earth energy in your personalities. In addition to helping others, Earth energy deeply embraces and honors longstanding connections, so will be the perfect energy for bringing clarity to the situation between you and Lanny.
But before you reach out to Lanny, you want to be sure that your Metal personality is able to let go of feeling hurt or judgmental toward her. You might need to work on this for a week or so by using eucalyptus or lemon essential oils daily, wearing a hematite stone against your skin 24/7, or even wearing red clothing regularly to give pliancy to your Metal energy. Once you feel free of judgement toward Lanny and can understand what it might have been like for her when you left, you are ready to reach out to her.
Step into the Earth part of your personality and set up a time to connect. When you see her, congratulate her on the great press (this will please her Wood personality) and ask how things are going. Compliment her on keeping things going or even on any positive changes she may have made since you left. I suspect that once you get past the hurt both of you may still feel, your Earth caring for each other and the great work you did together will help ease relations between you. And who knows? What felt like the sun setting on your relationship might actually turn into a new sunrise. Blessings to you!