Dear Vicki: I’m writing about my partner Lizzie. We’ve run a small auction business for several years and have done really well. I love seeing what comes in and the challenge of researching its history. I run our office, but Lizzie literally runs the auctions. She is engaging, outgoing, funny, and makes running the events look easy. Or at least she used to. Our auction house burned down several months ago and while I took it philosophically—that’s what insurance is for—Lizzie was devastated. I’ve done everything I can think of to get her to see things the way I do, but nothing I’ve said or done has perked her up. Not even breaking ground for our new building. It’s like she’s really burned out or something and the more I try to help her, the worse she gets. I’m fine doing this alone, but I miss Lizzie’s sunshine. How can I help her get enthusiastic again? Signed, Gloomy in Glendale
Dear Gloomy: I’m so sorry about the fire. It’s surely a traumatic event for both of you, but based on your primary elemental personalities, it is probably something that will be easier for you to get over than for Lizzie. But there are ways for each of you to heal, so let’s look at your primary elemental personalities and see what we can do.
The fact that you manage the details of the business, love to research the history of the pieces that come in, and have approached the fire in a philosophic fashion makes me suspect that you are a primary Metal personality with a secondary Water personality. The Metal part of your personality will absolutely love the history of the pieces you sell because Metal people tend to appreciate the past. And no elemental personality does details like the Metal personality. However, your philosophic approach to the fire and loss is something we often see in the Water personality. Water people care less about things and more about ideas and meaning. You don’t mention it, but it wouldn’t be out of character for the Water part of your personality to wonder what the meaning was behind the fire or why the fire happened at all.
Lizzie, on the other hand, is likely a Fire personality. “Engaging, outgoing, and funny” perfectly describe the Fire personality. The ability to think and act fast enough to keep a live auction going also speaks of the Fire personality. So, what happens when a fire affects a Fire person? Introducing aspects of our primary element into our environment is usually considered to be a good thing – it can feed us and help keep us balanced. However, too much of the energy of our primary element all at once will absolutely unbalance us and create a dysfunctional, and sometimes exact opposite, version of our usual self.
In Lizzie’s case, I think the fire burned out her Fire personality. The way you describe her since the fire really does sound like a burned-out version of her former self. No joy, no fun, no humor, none of the characteristics that are always associated with the Fire personality. I suspect that the fire in your auction house burned out Lizzie’s personality Fire and she’s having a hard time getting over it. But there are several ways you can help her.
First, this may sound odd, but stop trying to encourage her to be philosophic about the whole thing. That’s a Water personality approach. And while it works great for Water people, in the Five Elements model, Water is what puts out Fire via the Controlling Cycle. So in spite of your good intentions, you are probably helping to keep Lizzie’s Fire personality dimmed. Lizzie doesn’t need anything suppressing her Fire. She needs something helping her build it back.
If we return to the Five Elements model, we will see that Fire is feed on the Nurturing Cycle by the Wood element. This means adding some Wood energy to Lizzie’s life right now will probably be a good way to stoke her Fire. One thing Wood energy is great at is planning because the Wood personality looks to the future. And while a Fire personality will never get overly excited about planning – they would rather be in the here and now than the future – they will get excited about celebrating something. Do you have any friends who are good planners and could help Lizzie get excited about a grand re-opening party once your new building is completed? That will be one way to help rebuild and re-engage Lizzie’s Fire.
Of course, another approach is to work directly with Lizzie’s own Fire energy. Don’t gather friends around a campfire – she doesn’t need to be reminded of burning – but there are many other natural ways to help build Fire energy. The fragrance of essential oils like rosemary and lavender can balance the energies of the Fire element. Have Lizzie rub a few drops of the oil on her skin so the scent is noticeable. Or place a few drops of the oil on a tissue and have her inhale it. Spicy food will build Fire, too. And my favorite is the simple act of surrounding her in red, the color that builds Fire energy. Red clothes, red flowers, red walls, whatever appeals to her. Even a red shawl or scarf will help build Lizzie’s Fire.
Most importantly, don’t rehash the fire, be philosophic about it, or in any way keep bringing up the lessons learned from the fire, even though your Metal and Water personalities will probably want to do this. For now, share those insights with friends other than Lizzie. Instead, if you can do some or all of what I’ve suggested above, I suspect Lizzie will come around quickly (Fire people act and move quickly) to hook into the excitement of celebrating the rebuilding and re-opening of your business. Fires love and need connections, plus they excel at celebrations, so giving her a reason to be excited will really help. Just stay upbeat, not philosophic, and I believe there will naturally be plenty of opportunity for Lizzie’s enthusiasm to rebuild. Blessings to you!