Dear Vicki: Family is very, very important to me, but I am having trouble with two cousins who appear to have an overwhelming need to control my life. They strongly suggest (almost demand) that I do things the way they do, according to what they think is right. I have friends that seem to act this way toward me, too. All I want is for everyone to get alone, especially in these difficult times, but they just keep suggesting and pushing for what they think I should do next. When I haven’t done what they suggest, it has caused family rifts and the breakup of friendships. The pushy people in my life also don’t seem to feel the need to apologize for their actions, either, so it’s often up to me to make the first move, which doesn’t feel right. What can I do? Signed: Worried About My Relationships
Dear Worried About Relationships: There will always be people who, coming from an honest desire to help, strongly suggest that they know what is right for another person. And at an elemental personality level, these people are usually primary Wood personalities. Wood people focus on the future, are great at assessing what might not be going well in the present, and are even better at coming up with plans to address the issue going forward.
You, on the other hand, just want people to get along to the degree that you are willing to make the first move even when you aren’t the problem. That strongly suggests that you are a primary Earth personality. Earth people value family and friendships, and they are often the ones willing to go the extra mile to keep the peace.
The problem you are having is that, in the Five Elements model, Wood relates to Earth on the Controlling Cycle (the big star in the model below). This means that too much Wood energy (or too many Wood people in your life at once) can definitely feel uncomfortable, and yes, controlling.
It’s an inherent part of the model that every element has a corresponding element whose job it is to prevent them from reaching a state of excess energy. So at a personality level, when we come in contact with someone whose primary elemental personality relates to our primary elemental personality on the Controlling Cycle, aspects of the relationship can feel controlling. This means that it’s automatic for Wood people to try to keep Earth people from getting too “Earthy,” so to speak. It’s also a fact that the Wood personality can be opinionated, and they usually have strong opinions about is what is best for the Earth personality. But when you’re on the receiving end of these opinions, as you have found out, it can feel uncomfortable and controlling.
Left to their own devices, Wood people focus on success and accomplishment. They will be visionaries, planners, and organizers. Unfortunately, they will also assume that everyone wants to live life the way they do. Abraham Maslow said it best: “If your only tool is a hammer, you treat everything like a nail.” Wood people really believe that getting ahead, making a difference in the world, and doing things in an efficient manner are important. They just forget that while it’s important to them, it might not be as important to someone else, especially the Earth personality. Getting along well, deep lasting connections with people, peace and harmony are much more important to Earth people than success and acclaim.
Consider your Woody cousins and friends. They might look at you, a sweet and happy Earth person, as lacking the ability to go after accomplishment and success as they define it. This will confuse them and lead them to believe that you must need help. So, they try to guide you in the direction they think you need to go. To you, this will feel like they are trying to control your life. But to them, they are only trying to help you achieve what they think you should want to achieve.
For the sake of relationship harmony, I strongly encourage you to speak to them about your concerns and how you feel. Understandably, this will probably feel daunting to you. Earth people abhor confrontation and conflict. And by their very nature, Wood people are tough to engage with in that way. Their stress response is anger, which is often really unpleasant. Very few Earth personalities would voluntarily decide to confront a Wood personality. But there are ways to do this that can have a happy ending, and for that we are going to turn to your secondary elemental personality.
Your letter implies unhappiness with the fact that the Wood people in your life don’t even apologize to you when you’ve made the first move (which your Earth energy would naturally do). This respect for protocol and the “right” thing to do sits squarely in the Metal personality and makes me suspect that your secondary elemental personality could be Metal. The reason this is important is that while the Earth personality won’t voluntarily take on a Wood person, a Metal personality certainly will. In the model, Metal controls Wood, and this might be the key for getting along better with your cousins and any other Wood people in your life.
It is a cosmic truth that we all have all five of the elemental personalities in our energetic make-up. It might be a good idea for you to learn to step into your secondary Metal personality when you are with the over-zealous Wood people in your life. To do this you will want to be more logical, rational, and calculating when you interact with them. Don’t worry about hurting their feelings (which an Earth person will be prone to do). Instead, have logical reasons for what you are doing, point out the prudence of your actions, and just generally be able to offer valid reasons for doing what you want to do. The sharp blade of rationality will prune excessive Wood every time.
And if you it difficult to maintain this level of rationality and logic around your Wood family and friends, you can also wear lots of white around them. White is Metal’s color and will also serve to decrease Wood energy. However you do it, if you can bring your Metal energy to the front when around the Wood people in your life, I suspect you will experience them as less pushy, will actually get on much better with them, and will definitely feel less controlled.
One final thought to consider: If you’re attracting Wood people to you beyond your cousins (for example, having many Wood personality friends), it might suggest that your Earth energy is out of balance. Has the pandemic caused you to be a bit more needy, or even weepy? Have you been craving sugar? Have you felt a need to be needed, or even felt guilty or worried about something? These are places Earth people naturally go when they have too much Earth energy. And as the model teaches, the antidote for too much Earth energy is Wood energy (Wood controls Earth in the model). So rather than hanging out with pushy Wood people, try wearing green to build your own Wood energy. I promise it will be a much gentler process than having the Wood personalities in your life overwhelm you. Blessings to you! Stay safe and well.