Can Water Find Love Without Drowning?

Dear Vicki: I appreciate the Five Elements model and regularly read your blog even though I’m not good at relationships. I long for a deep connection with another human being, but most of my relationships end up disasters. As a Water, I sometimes find that the person I am dating completely overwhelms me. I feel like I am drowning in them, which scares me, and I have to leave. Other times, I think I am in love, but then become fearful that they will leave me. You have said here that Water people are loners, and I do need alone time, but what if I don’t want to be alone all the time anymore? Can I find love without losing myself? Signed Lonely in Lancaster

Dear Lonely: It is absolutely possible for Waters to have deep and lasting relationships without losing themselves. But a relationship for a Water will look different than a relationship for an Earth, Fire, Wood, or Metal. What’s most important is that you understand your own needs when in relationship. Then, when you’re considering a relationship with someone, make a good guess regarding their element and be sure you understand what they’re going to need, too. You’ve done a great job articulating some of what Waters face when in relationship. You do want profound connections and you do need time alone. If you are out of balance, you will become fearful. Without boundaries, in nature water will flow everywhere, which can feel like being lost. But there is every reason to believe that you, as a Water, can find love and happiness in a relationship. Let’s consider how.

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How Metal is Reflected in Others

Dear Vicki: I really appreciated your response to Problem Fire, but it brought up a question for me. She asked if having trouble with an elemental expression in someone else means that we need to work on our own expression of that element. Her example was Fire in her brother-in-law, but I’m having trouble with a Metal co-worker (Grant). I’m a Metal, too, so I should understand him, right? Yet everything he does seems to rub me the wrong way. I find him controlling, haughty, and arrogant, but I don’t think I’m any of those things. At least I didn’t used to be. Lately, my family has suggested that Grant might be rubbing off on me. He was hired a year ago to help me with the books in a small construction firm, so we are around each other all day every week. We’re both Metals, so shouldn’t we get along? Or does the fact that I’m having trouble with Grant’s Metal energy mean I need to work on my own? Signed: Problem with Metal

Dear Problem with Metal: The short answer is yes, if your Metal energy is out of balance, you need to work on it. But the longer answer is to address why a fellow Metal can throw off your energies. We have spent a lot of time in this blog discussing how the elements affect each other via the Nurturing and Controlling Cycles. If you are a regular reader, you probably have a good understanding that, as a Metal, your relationships with Water and Earth people will carry a nurturing or building tone (Earth feeds Metal, Metal feeds Water). Conversely, your relationships with Wood and Fire people will carry a controlling or balancing tone (Fire controls Metal, Metal controls Wood). These are the basic patterns that sit at the core of the Five Elements model.

However, we also have relationships with people who have the same primary element as we do. These relationships are usually less dynamic than Nurturing or Controlling Cycle relationships because there isn’t the movement of energy through the cycles to keep things fresh. But, as we have said, no one will understand you better than someone with the same primary element as you. What we haven’t discussed as much is how people with the same element can affect us. And just like with the other elemental relationships, it comes down to whether the people we’re interacting with, in your case another Metal, have balanced or out of balance energies themselves. Metals with balanced energies will help you stay balanced. Metals with out of balanced energies will bring you down. Let’s look at why.

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Does Unbalanced Fire Bring Out Fire?

Dear Five Faces: I’m having trouble with my new brother-in-law Tom, who is a primary Fire element, and I wonder if the Five Elements can help me understand why. He’s a loud, jokester, frustrating kind of guy who is always “on.” Honestly, I don’t know how my sister stands it. Tom’s never quiet and it’s absolutely exhausting to be around him. I know it’s said we respond to others based on the parts of ourselves that need work, but does this translate to the element types? If we see Fire in another person and don’t like it, does that mean we’re having trouble with our own Fire? Signed: Problem Fire

Dear Problem Fire: This is a great question and there are multiple answers. First, being around someone with an abundance of Fire will affect our own expression of Fire, even if it isn’t our primary element. That’s what often happens at parties: the fun the Fires are having is usually contagious. We all have all five elements, so wherever our own Fire is in our makeup, it usually wakes up a little and wants to have fun. And it usually does have a great deal of fun. However, for people who have trouble expressing their Fire, this can be uncomfortable. So yes, you could be having trouble expressing your own Fire and Tom’s Fire makes that worse. But based on your description of Tom’s behavior, and your reaction to it, I suspect that’s not the real problem here.

It sounds like Tom has too much Fire and that’s what’s impacting you. As the Five Elements model tells us, too much of any element is problematic not only for the whole; each of the other four elements will also be affected. To understand why, let’s use Tom as an example. Too much Fire will drain Water as it reaches across the Controlling Cycle to manage the Fire (Water puts out Fire). Too much Fire will increase Earth by dumping excess energy into it via the Nurturing Cycle (Fire feeds Earth). Too much Fire will deplete Metal by sending too much energy across the Controlling Cycle (Fire melts Metal). And too much Fire will deplete Wood by pulling too much from it via the Nurturing Cycle (Wood feeds Fire).

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Death, Guilt, and Healing: Helping a Wood Rebuild

Dear Vicki: I’m hoping you can help my brother, Brad, who was in a terrible car accident three years ago. It was winter and the road conditions weren’t great here in Maine, but he and his best friend were determined to go skiing. We tried to talk them out of it, but they laughed at us and went ahead. Brad was driving when another car, going way too fast, lost control and skidded into them. Brad survived, but his best friend was killed. Brad did rehab for months and healed pretty well, but he is a changed person. He used to be a loud, assertive, wheeler dealer who turned around a chain of failing sporting goods stores, but now his heart doesn’t seem to be in anything. He’s closed one of his stores and the other two aren’t doing so well. It’s not like he’s super depressed anymore, it’s just that he’s not his normal outgoing self. Is there some way the Five Elements can help him get back to who he was before the accident? I think he was a Wood, so should I make him wear green? Signed: Sad Sister in Maine 

Dear Sad Sister: My heart goes out to your brother. The loss of someone close to us is always difficult, but the idea that we had something to do with it can be especially hard to bear. I think you are correct – Brad does sound like a Wood. Woods are adventuresome and rarely back down from a challenge. Weather probably wouldn’t stop a Wood determined to push through. That’s the MO of Wood: Just do it! It’s true that Woods are risk takers, but they usually aren’t reckless enough to take more of a risk than they think they can handle. Brad correctly assumed that he could manage the road conditions. The problem was that someone else apparently couldn’t.

There are several factors at play when a Wood goes though what Brad has experienced. First, remember that Woods need to keep moving toward a goal; the worst thing that can happen to a Wood is for something to stop their forward movement. For Brad, the accident not only stopped the movement of his car, it ended the trajectory his life had been taking. No longer was life about being a successful businessman. Instead, he was faced with months of trying to reclaim his health and body functioning. And even more significantly, he had to come to terms with the loss of his best friend. This last aspect was certainly made harder for Brad given that he was driving when the accident occurred. The guilt he feels must be profound. I’m assuming you’ve encouraged Brad to seek professional help. Hopefully he is seeing a counselor on a regular basis, which will help. But there are ways the Five Elements can help, too, so let’s take a look.

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Earth Friend: Grounding or Suffocating?

Dear Vicki: Last fall I moved back to my hometown after a ten-year absence and reconnected with an old friend from my high school days. I remember Becca as very caring and considerate, someone who was willing to help out a lot, but she’s really overdoing things now. Under the pretense of helping me get settled, Becca calls or stops by way too often for my taste. I feel suffocated and want to know how I can tell her to back off. I actually look forward to going to work (I’m an attorney) since she doesn’t call me there. I’m pretty sure I’m a Metal, and I really just want to cut things off with Becca, but I don’t want to be unkind. How do I handle this? Signed, Suffocating

Dear Suffocating: It sounds like Becca is an Earth who is genuinely trying to help you get settled after your move. She is doing what comes naturally to her, too, because Earths are wired to help with change. Their energy actually grounds the chaotic energy of transitions. This means that Earths can help stabilize almost any shift, good or bad. Hopefully you moved back to your hometown for a good reason, but change, even positive change, can be challenging. Earth energy helps facilitate adaptation to change, so in that way, having Becca around after your move is a blessing.

Given your reaction to Becca and the fact that you’re an attorney, it’s likely that you are a Metal. As a Metal, you and Becca relate via the Nurturing Cycle, with her Earth feeding your Metal. In proper doses, this should feel good to you. Earths care about people being comfortable and most people appreciate help when relocating. However, in the name of caring about someone, it’s not hard for an Earth to slip into a place that looks and feels more like interfering than assisting. An out of balanced Earth can lose sight of the appropriate amount of support to offer someone and when this happens, their constant attempts to help can come across as smothering, especially to Metals who value their solitude. Given your reaction to Becca’s apparent desire to make you her new project, it seems that’s where you are now.

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