Jealousy: Can the Five Elements Help?

Dear Vicki: My high school daughter Sammie, who I think is an Earth, has a close friend who’s started comparing herself to several of their classmates. Sammie says Tracy is jealous of their friends who have better grades, cuter boyfriends, nicer cars, etc. She even told Sammie that she wished her mother was as nice as I am. Tracy has become more and more angry about the perceived inequities in her life and it’s threatening their friendship. Sammie feels like there’s a “boogeyman” affecting her previously nice friend. I’d like to offer Sammie suggestions on how to handle Tracy and wonder if the Five Elements might help. I’m assuming jealousy is a Wood thing, right? What can Sammie do to help Tracy out of this Wood place? Thank you. Signed, Wants to Help

Dear Wants to Help: It’s easy to assume that jealousy sits in Wood because success matters to Woods. However, cute boyfriends and nice cars can be a status thing, and status matters to Metals. And nicer parents would matter to an Earth because family connections sit in Earth. So, no, jealousy isn’t automatically a Wood thing. Jealousy can visits any element, but what creates jealousy will differ by element. We can all appreciate what someone else possesses, has accomplished, or the lifestyle they have created, but the strong emotion that’s behind jealousy is usually fueled by the priorities of our main element. For example:

Waters value time for study and discussion and the freedom to go with the flow. A Water who is over-committed or too busy might be jealous of someone who has more free time and less structure than they have.

Woods do value success and personal accomplishment. A Wood who finds themself unable to make things happen no matter how hard they try might be jealous of someone else’s phenomenal success or good luck.

Fires value attention and excitement in their lives. A Fire who is unable to maintain an active social schedule due to work commitments might be jealous of someone who does have the time to mix and mingle.

Earths value deep and lasting connections with people and the ability to spend time with them. An Earth who lives far away from close family and friends might be jealous of someone who lives near their loved ones.

Metals value being right and acknowledged for their wisdom. A Metal who did not win an appointment to a prestigious committee or council might be jealous of the colleague who was appointed.

Because Tracy is predominantly coveting externalized accomplishments (good grades, cute boyfriends, nice cars), it seems likely that your original assessment is correct: She is probably an out of balance Wood. And if she is expressing her jealousy in an angry fashion, you can assume she probably has too much Wood. Sammie can help by building Metal energy around Tracy because it’s Metal that helps prune back Wood. As her best friend, Sammie can encourage Tracy to wear white or give her a hematite crystal to wear, all of which will build her own Metal to address her abundance of Wood.

Sammie can also bring her own Metal by being logical in the face of Tracy’s complaints. Logic really is a good counter to out of balance Wood as long as it offers suggestions and counterpoints, not flat denials of whatever is bothering the Wood.

If Sammie and Tracy are able to balance Tracy’s Wood, she might well be able to take the necessary steps to help herself obtain better grades and cuter boyfriends; that level of accomplishment is not impossible for motivated and balanced Woods. Obviously, Tracy won’t be able to change her parents, but if she is more pleasant to be around, she might find that her family will be nicer toward her. She will certainly be back to being someone that Sammie enjoys again.

One last point: I’m sure you will monitor how all of this affects your daughter. There could be more contributing to Tracy’s problems than Sammie knows, so professional help might be needed for Tracy. Also, Tracy and Sammie relate on the Controlling Cycle, and it is Tracy’s Wood that controls Sammie’s Earth. If Sammie becomes less of her sweet Earth self, an indication that she is becoming deficient in Earth, she may need to step away from Tracy until things are better. This is a complicated issue, bit one thing is for sure: Sammie is lucky to have a wise mother who can help her dispel the “boogeyman.” Blessings to you!

boogeyman

Siblings at Odds: Metal vs. Wood

Dear Vicki: My younger brother and I had a shaky relationship growing up. We never seemed to agree on anything and often took the opposite side of an issue just to antagonize each other. We’ve grown out of that to some degree, but as adults we still don’t see eye to eye on much of anything. What he thinks is important seems stupid to me. And when I make something a priority, it feels like he always questions me. We both have children now and the cousins love to get together, but it’s hard when Greg and I are so tense around each other. Is there any way the Five Elements can help us get along better? I’m just beginning to study the elements, but suspect I’m a Metal and Greg is a Wood. Signed: Always at Odds

Dear Always At Odds: In relationships, the shadowy area of priority and tendency seems to trip us up again and again. It’s not uncommon to expect our friends and family to see the reasoning behind whatever we do, but it rarely happens that way. For example, if you question your brother’s priorities and offer what are to you vastly superior alternatives, he will likely resent the interference. Or when you make decisions that fly in the face of what he thinks is smart, he’ll likely assume you’re making a mistake and challenge you, which you won’t like. This is normal and to be expected because each element has its own way of approaching everything in life.

The Metal/Wood dynamic can be particularly prickly because these two elements tend to be more opinionated than the other three elements. It’s a dynamic I know very well, too. I’m a primary Wood and my husband is a primary Metal. As a Wood, I place much more importance on accomplishment than Mark ever would. We used to argue about my workaholic ways, but he’s come to accept that it’s essential to my happiness (even though he still shakes his head many evenings as he passes my home office on his way to the TV room). Conversely, a life without order and rules would make my Metal husband miserable. We used to fight about his exacting need for detail, but I’ve come to accept it even though the tedious precision he applies toward putting together a 1500 piece puzzle sends me screaming from the room. But he’s happy with his puzzles and glad that I don’t give him grief about them anymore.

Continue reading

Ending a Relationship: Can the Five Elements Help?

Dear Vicki: This may seem like an odd relationship question, but I need help ending a relationship. Eight years ago, I divorced after five years of marriage. It was a difficult time for me so I didn’t date for several years. Two years ago I started dating a nice fellow named Chuck. It’s been fun – we certainly laugh and go out a lot – but lately he’s started hinting at marriage. I care about Chuck, but he isn’t really someone I want to be with the rest of my life. He shifts from fun Fire energy to dour Metal too often; it’s like he’s two different people, which makes me tired, so I need to end things. I’d rather find a Wood personality, someone more like myself, to settle with but I don’t want to hurt Chuck’s feelings. Is there a way the Five Elements can help make it easier to tell him we’re through? Signed: Sensitive in Seattle

Dear Sensitive: It is very kind of you to seek out a good way to tell Chuck you aren’t interested in a marriage relationship with him. And since you’ve already ended a more permanent relationship once, it is wise of you to be cautious regarding entering into another one. The short answer to your questions is that yes, you absolutely can use an understanding of the Five Elements to help you end your relationship with Chuck on a good note. But first, let’s take a quick look at why it’s not surprising that your relationship with Chuck isn’t something you want to make permanent.

Chuck’s Fire relates to your Wood on the Nurturing Cycle, which can be a good thing for a relationship. However, it’s your Wood that feeds his Fire, and that’s the reason the relationship can feel tiring for you. Too much Fire will drain your Wood energy. And if Chuck’s secondary is Metal, it relates to your Wood on the Controlling Cycle, so will feel stifling to you. Honestly, it’s surprising you lasted with Chuck for two years, but I suspect the reason you did was because you have a secondary Earth.

Continue reading

Charlottesville: Supremacy vs. Diversity

Dear Readers: Disagreement is an important reality of life for humans. Since developing the ability for advanced cognitive processing, we’ve rarely completely agreed on anything. Possibly the directions of up and down, and maybe that gravity exists, but beyond that, a difference of opinion is the norm. And that’s fine, good, and necessary as long as disagreement doesn’t degenerate into violence. The ability to think abstractly sets humans apart from other animals, but sadly, so does our tendency for violence in the name of an idea, desire, or belief.

The deadly events in Charlottesville last weekend highlighted this unfortunate aspect of human behavior. What happened there was an attempt to defy the most American of premises: That all people are created equal and are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Class and economic distinctions may come and go, but the supremacy of one race over another flies in the face of our country’s founding documents. It also ignores the value of diversity. As humans, we can be equal, but different, and it’s those differences that give us strength as a people. While the concept of diversity clearly hasn’t yet found universal acceptance, to those who say it’s impossible to embrace diversity, I would like to offer the perfect example of why diversity is not only possible, but is absolutely necessary.

Continue reading

An Interesting Twist: Earth Controlling Wood?

Dear Vicki: This may seem like a petty issue, but my sister is driving me crazy. We run a successful restaurant together – I’m the business manager and she’s the chef – but she just can’t get things done quickly. She’s a fantastic cook, and very creative in how she has decorated the place, but she takes forever planning menus, deciding on new china or wallpaper, or even leaving at night when we close the restaurant. We live near each other so travel together, and at night she must run back into the building at least three times to check if she started soaking this or turned off that. I love the restaurant and my sister, but she’s driving me nuts. It’s clear she’s an Earth, and I’m a Wood, which means that I’m on her Controlling Cycle, right? So why is she the one controlling me, and what can I do about it? Signed Not Really in Charge:

Dear Not Really: This is an interesting challenge for you. Yes, you and your sister do relate on the Controlling Cycle where it is your Wood that controls her Earth. But while you’re the manager of the restaurant, which is very important, people usually come to a restaurant to enjoy the food and ambiance, which is your sister’s bailiwick. Your normal Wood desire to charge forward on everything will, by necessity, be restrained by the fact that she is the guiding light for the important parts of the restaurant, at least the parts that matter to your patrons. In this way, she can, and probably does, control your behavior. And it’s no surprise you don’t like it. Woods really don’t like to be controlled.

The good news for you is that this joint venture with your sister is successful – clearly you’re doing a lot right. Even more good news is that you and your sister have found professions that suit each of you well. Earths usually love cooking and Woods are usually excellent managers. The bad news is that you are unhappy and frustrated. So let’s look at that in a way that will make sense to you.

Continue reading