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.
Dear Vicki: My husband and I have been married 15 years and worked in academia for much of that time. Simon taught at a large medical school and was always the most popular lecturer there. I managed the medical school’s library and dearly loved helping the students. Several years ago, Simon pursued his dream of going to med school (he wanted to be the doctor rather than just teach about it) and I kept working to support both of us. After completing his degree, he opened a successful practice. I no longer want to deal with the politics of academia, so this feels like the perfect time for me to change careers and do something more artistic, which I have wanted for years. The problem is that I expected Simon to be as encouraging regarding my potential change as I was of his, but he’s not. Whenever I bring up the subject, he’s completely unsupportive. He suggests that I probably won’t be successful, that there are more talented people around, and at his worst, that I should consider becoming his receptionist (how artistic is that?). Why is he so resistant to me changing careers? And what can I do? Signed: Ready for a Change
Dear Ready for a Change: I can understand why this makes no sense to you. It does seem only fair that he supports your career change as you supported his. And in truth, it is only fair. But I think a closer look at your elemental personalities and how they interact will shed some light on why he isn’t jumping for joy over the idea but instead, is actually trying to squash it. We will also cover ways to help you both move through this process.
First, being a popular lecturer suggests that Simon has a good deal of Fire in his elemental personality. However, Fire people usually don’t have the structure necessary to get through med school. That suggests that Simon’s secondary elemental personality is either Wood (more of a doer) or Metal (more of a thinker), as these are the two most structured personalities. And given his desire to “be” the doctor rather than “just teach” about it, I believe his secondary personality is Wood.
You, on the other hand, are clearly a primary Water personality given your life-long desire for creative expression. Water people also usually have a passion for books, which is where working in a library would come in. But the Water personality alone doesn’t have the structure to manage a library. And given your joy at helping the students, I suspect that your secondary elemental personality is Earth, which is exactly the element that helps provide structure to Water (think river channels, ocean floors, etc.). Also, since we all have all five of the elemental personalities in our wiring, you have probably drawn on the Metal personality in you a time or two for added structured when needed.
Dear Vicki: Max and I have been close friends since childhood. We met at a child’s reading event at the local library when we were 9 years old and bonded over the books. Growing up, Max was a quiet, go with the flow kind of guy and I was a quiet, go with the flow kind of girl. We hung out a lot. But during college, Max really started to change. The first Christmas vacation back home we went to a poetry reading together (Max loved to write poetry), but he seemed cold and withdrawn. I wondered what was going on, but he never mentioned any problems at school, so I never asked. But by the time we graduated from college last year, Max was a different person. These days, his easy-going nature is completely gone and he’s become very precise and rigid. What happened to my old Max? I don’t know if it will help, but I’m a children’s librarian and Max is a computer programmer. Signed: Missing Max
Dear Missing Max: Childhood is a wonderful time of imagination, play, and discovery. As we’ve said here many times, regardless of our primary elemental personality, we all use a great deal of Water energy during childhood. If we are also a primary Water personality, our love of books, going with the flow, creativity, and the other aspects of the Water personality will stay with us as we grow.
However, if the Water personality aspects we manifest during childhood change as we grow, it is possible that our primary elemental personality really wasn’t Water, we were just in the Water phase of life. It’s also possible that the changes we manifest as we grow are because we have learned to lead with a different elemental personality for any number of reasons, even though our primary personality was, and still is, Water. And I think that might be what has happened for your friend, Max.
Dear Vicki: I love New Year’s resolutions! Committing to what I want to accomplish next year makes me happy. Unfortunately, my husband hates the idea. Every year it’s impossible to get him excited about sharing thoughts for the coming year. And when he does finally agree, it’s like the Grinch has moved in. I’m dreading January because I know it will just be one more fight about resolutions. Of course, I could make them alone, but we’ve been together a long time and so much of what happens in my life involves him. How do I get him excited about New Year’s resolutions? Signed: Resolutions for Me
Dear Resolutions: This is an issue many of us have faced and I believe it can be addressed rather easily with assistance from the Five Elements. Knowing your primary elemental personality and that of your husband will help you approach the subject in a way that might make the idea of resolutions more palatable to him.
The fact that you enjoy coming up with resolutions for the New Year suggests that you are probably a primary Wood personality. The arena of focus for Wood people is the future, and nothing is more future-oriented than creating resolutions for the coming year. In truth, resolutions are really just glorified plans for change and Wood people excel at planning.
Because your husband hates resolutions (rather than just finding them boring, pointless, or silly), I suspect he is probably a primary Metal personality. The arena of focus for Metal people is the past; they excel at synthesizing events that occur over the course of a cycle, be that a month, a season, a lifetime, or longer. Metals are brilliant at looking backward and bringing wisdom forward. But it’s often difficult for them to project themselves into the future; they just don’t think that way, which is probably one reason your husband hates making resolutions.
The idea of making New Year’s resolutions is popular in our culture not because we’re a world of primary Wood personalities. Instead, I think the popularity of resolutions suggests that each elemental personality can and does connect with the idea of a fresh start. So, let’s take a closer look at how each elemental personality responds to the idea of New Year’s resolutions and then we’ll explore a way for you to approach the topic with your husband.
Dear Readers: I am so grateful for your enthusiastic support of this blog! Thank you for your letters and comments (and shares), as well as the opportunity to explore the wisdom embodied in the Five Elements model with you. This deceptively simple model not only provides a window into the workings of the universe, it also helps us better understand ourselves and our relationships.
As we say goodbye to 2019, once again I’d like to offer you The Five Elements New Year Blessing. As I have mentioned in this blog many times, while our personalities will reflect a specific elemental flavor, we do have all five of the elemental personalities in our makeup. That means that the gifts of each element are ours to access as we need them. May we honor these gifts equally in ourselves and others during 2020.
The Five Elements New Year Blessing
I wish you the hope and optimism of the Water Personality:
May you always embody trust.
I wish you the success and productivity of the Wood Personality:
May your accomplishments foster peace.
I wish you the joy and celebration of the Fire Personality:
May you be a source of inspiration to others.
I wish you the caring and connection of the Earth Personality:
May you offer compassion to those in need.
I wish you the knowledge and understanding of the Metal Personality:
May you provide wisdom to us all.
Happy New Year! Let’s make 2020 a year of joyful relationships, sweet love, and everlasting kindness!