For years, this blog has used the Five Elements model from Chinese medicine to discuss the five basic elemental personalities: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. We’ve covered issues like the strengths and weaknesses of each elemental personality, as well as the important understanding of how they relate to each other. At times, we’ve even dipped into how they relate to themselves. However, one issue we have never covered is what happens to an elemental personality when some form of mental illness is present. Recent events suggest this might be a reasonable time to cover this topic, especially as it relates to the primary Wood personality.
Wood people focus on the future and are excellent planners. Their greatest strength is that they can envision their goals and plot exactly what it takes to accomplish them. They firmly believe that if they try hard enough, they can manifest anything. Powerful and decisive, the primary Wood personality counts on their ability to get things done in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds and will use their abundant energy to remove obstacles that block the way. It is the nature of their personality to be strong, direct, and assertive (hopefully in a kind way).
If action and accomplishment are the greatest strengths of Wood people, their greatest weakness is a potentially dysfunctional – and often explosive – response to lack of movement toward accomplishing what they want. When things aren’t happening fast enough, or at all, Wood personalities have nowhere to focus their formidable energy. They’ll push and exhaust themselves in the name of the goal and ultimately lose their ability to be flexible and adaptable. In the process they can become impatient, angry, and often quite mean. However, since self-preservation (and saving face) is very important for a Wood person, they are usually able to pull themselves back from the point of no return, dust themselves off, and try again (often with a different approach).
That said, a mentally unstable Wood personality will frequently become so obsessed with what matters to them (things like success, status, being important, and winning) that they lose the ability to self-moderate their behavior. Whatever their primary goal is at the moment takes on an almost mythic “life or death” urgency such that they will stop at very little to get what they want. The concept that the ends can justify the means is a Wood energy idea, and an unbalanced Wood will see nothing wrong in doing whatever they believe needs to be done to accomplish their goal.
It can be said that extremely unhinged Wood people not only lose perspective in their desperate need to accomplish their goal, they also lose their humanity. When that happens, nothing matters to them but their success, perceived greatness, and accomplishment. And if they look into the future and don’t like what they see, they will be extremely motivated to do anything it takes to change the future potential outcome.
So, what does one do with an unhinged Wood person? How can one help? The kindest thing you can do for a Wood personality in this state is to remove the pressure they have placed on themselves. Wood people can get so locked into their perception of what matters most that they really do lose touch with reality. If you can remove them from whatever situation has created the stress and help them focus on something else, most Wood personalities will use the opportunity to recalibrate themselves, find balance, and then get back up on their proverbial horse and start again. In the Five Elements model, the element that controls Wood is Metal. This is the realm of logic, rationality, protocol, and systems. One can help a modestly unbalanced Wood personality by encouraging them to stick to the rules and rely on norms. And since white is the color that builds Metal energy, surrounding them with white (and also metal objects) will also help.
But of course, it goes without saying that if the Wood person is too out of touch with reality, or a danger to themselves or others, intervention and professional help will likely be necessary. Very few extremely unbalanced Wood personalities will voluntarily agree to be sidelined or taken away from their urgent goals. At that point they see themselves as “destined” for whatever they are trying to achieve, almost as if on a magnificent quest. Because of this, professional assistance will likely be a necessity to help them regain their balance and a sense of appropriate actions that can be taken to achieve their goals.
Blessings to all of us!