Dear Vicki: I’m writing about my husband. He’s a great guy and a good provider, but he’s always been a workaholic. He wanted to get ahead in his job and he did. He’s been the CEO of a small accounting firm for years, but now it’s in the midst of being taken over by a larger firm. Dan fought it, but the Board thought it was a good move, and it probably is for everyone except him; he’ll be out. Dan has always been a fighter, and his anger was a force to be reckoned with, but a few months ago that changed. Instead of an angry bull, now he’s sullen and withdrawn. I could manage his anger, but I’m not sure what to do with this. I’ve studied the Five Elements some and always thought Dan was a Wood personality, but now I’m not so sure. How can I help him? Signed: Worried Wife
Dear Worried: Dan is blessed to have such a caring wife. And while there is much you can do to help him, it goes without saying that he may also need the help of a professional counselor, so please do keep that in mind. Dan does sound like he has a Wood personality. The need for personal accomplishment accompanied with some form of recognition (title, financial rewards, visibility, etc.) does matter a great deal to Woods. They are most happy when they can keep moving toward that goal. But if something gets in their way, an out of balance Wood will succumb to anger. For them, the outward expression of anger still feels like movement, although it’s rarely very productive. In fact, the prolonged expression of anger usually ends up being counter-productive for the situation and harmful for Woods and the people closest to them. Few Woods actually want to be angry all the time and I think this is what’s driving Dan’s behavior right now. Let me explain.
When a Wood expresses anger, it’s usually because something they want to do or see happen isn’t unfolding as they would like. Woods in positions of authority often learn that the occasional angry outburst will motivate employees (and family members) to get things going to avoid additional outbursts of anger. Not a great management technique, but sadly successful in many cases. Fortunately, most Woods eventually come to the understanding that their anger isn’t doing anyone any good. When that happens, and the Wood realizes that nothing they do will get the desired results, if they are energetically balanced they will assess the situation and change tactics. But if they are unable to do this because they are either unbalanced or unable to find an alternative tactic, to avoid the continued expression of anger, a Wood can shut themselves down. And yes, this can look a lot like depression.
Dear Vicki: I grew up in a family of Woods. My father was an angry, controlling man who was never happy with anything and always wanted more of everything. My mother was primary Earth, but I think her secondary was Wood because she fought for control with my father all the time regarding his abusive ways. Because of this, my home life was out of control and I couldn’t wait to leave. But now that I’m an adult, not only do I avoid Woods, I appear not to have any Wood myself. I’m not competitive and I have trouble with the idea of fairness (I want to ask “Fair to who?” – there are always two sides). In my personal relationships, I’ve avoided trying to control anything, yet my husband tells me I have control issues. Can you help me understand what he means? He’s a Fire and I’m a Metal, if that helps. Signed: Confused About Control in Concord
Dear Concord: I’m sorry to say this, but I agree with your husband – I do think you have control issues. Or more accurately, you have issues with control. And that’s very understandable given your childhood. As a Metal child in a household of battling Woods, your Metal would have been depleted from trying to keep Wood in check in any way available to you (Metal controls Wood). When you add the fact that life unfolding in a proper and controlled way was important to your Metal, it means that your young life was pretty much about control.
What this left you with is a negative attitude toward control, but not just because trying to keep it in place was exhausting. Out of control Wood can be scary, and the fact that you witnessed so much fighting and discord growing up probably created a deep sense of insecurity. In your eyes, Wood became the enemy, so it’s not surprising that you’ve avoided Wood most of your adult life, even the Wood in yourself.
But let’s be clear, you do have Wood; we all do. I suspect that you’re just so uncomfortable with Wood energy, and in fact may deem it dangerous, that you refuse to acknowledge it in yourself. And if it does rear its ugly head, your Metal probably chops it down rather quickly. If this condition of missing Wood is severe enough, it’s called “Wood lacking.” I covered the topic of a “lacking” element in a previous blog (https://5faces.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/metal-mom-becoming-earth/) if you want to read more about it.
Dear Vicki: I’m an Earth with a Metal secondary married to a Fire guy whose secondary is Earth. We have been married for 14 years, but have been struggling for the last few. Due to my husband’s head injuries, I’ve been the sole provider and caregiver for the last 10 years. My Earth tendencies for the caregiving and my Metal control and structure made this work for us in the beginning. But for several years now I’ve been burned out, which has led to health issues of my own. I’m struggling with anger and resentment towards my mate and frustration with my own health. I feel incredibility under appreciated because my husband fails to grasp the overwhelming stress I deal with and how this stress affects me. I’ve been working on making time for myself to regain my health, and it has worked; I am getting better. But I still have the anger and resentment. My husband tries, but he fails to understand all that is going on. How do I get over being so angry and resentful regarding my situation? Signed: Angry in Anaheim
Dear Angry: Bless you for all that you’re dealing with in your life. Caring for an incapacitated loved one is never easy. And the fact that it’s your partner, the person you would normally turn to for love and support, makes it doubly difficult. Our ability to do this kind of thing comes from our Earth. That’s where compassion and caring sit, and no doubt you have drawn on these feelings many times over the past several years. The fact that you are a primary Earth is very likely what has made the protracted caregiving possible for you.
From your letter it sounds like you’re currently in a place of excess Wood; anger and resentment are clear indications of too much Wood energy. And while you don’t mention what kind of health issues you have developed, a key aspect of our immune system sits in the Earth element. The fact that you have become ill yourself suggests that your Earth is probably depleted, which wouldn’t be surprising if you have an excess of Wood (Wood controls Earth). Therefore, as you have surmised, the first step is to address the excess Wood energy you have.
Dear Vicki: I have a lot of anger surfacing these days. I am over-the-top angry with the political campaigns and the way people are being treated, but recently realized it parallels how certain family members treated me in the past. I let them get away with it, had compassion for their bad behavior, and didn’t really acknowledge how I felt about being disrespected and judged. Finally, two years ago I stepped away from these relationships. At first I felt fantastic, but now my anger at the campaigning has made me realize that I am angry at myself for being a doormat all those years. I even have conversations with myself about this sometimes and deeply regret my lack of action. I am a Metal/Fire, but am turning into a roaring Wood. I read your blog and notice that you often suggest environmental ways to help balance an element. Can you help me? Signed: Angry in Atlanta
Dear Angry: Let me say that it’s truly amazing how many people, especially women, have approached me via this blog and my private practice to express anger at the way groups of people are being treated by specific candidates this year. Individual rights matter in America, and when those aren’t respected it can bring up issues for all of us. I think that’s happening now as part of the presidential campaign in a way we didn’t expect as a country. So, you are not alone in feeling angry, but let’s look at how this is affecting you and what we can do to shift the pattern.
Remember that we all have all five elements in our make up and can draw on them at will when we need what they have to offer. If we are not a primary Fire but need to be more outgoing in a particular situation, we can tap our Fire. If we need compassion, we can tap our Earth, etc. And sometimes, a specific element can step to the front of the line to help us process something we need to process. I think that’s what is happening for you.
While you might normally be a Metal/Fire, right now it sounds like your Wood is ready to process the anger it feels at the Earth part of you that stood in compassion for people and allowed them to treat you poorly. Your Wood also sounds upset that your Earth took so long to step away from these people. The good news is that your Earth did finally step away! Earth has a very hard time ending relationships, especially family relationships. And since Wood controls Earth, your Wood might also be upset at itself for not stepping in sooner and balancing the over-compassionate Earth. The conversations you’re having in your head about what you should have said or wished you’d said also indicate an out of balance Earth.
Dear Vicki: Last month you answered a letter from Angry in Annapolis, a Wood having trouble with a Water boyfriend. The issues spoke to me because I’m a Water in a relationship with a Wood. Can you say more about these two elements together? I’d especially love to hear what a Water can do to keep her sanity married to a fussy, opinionated Wood guy who is ranting continuously about politics, but who otherwise is a beautiful, kind, intelligent, hard working individual. Help! Signed, Water on the Edge
Dear Water on the Edge: That is the question, isn’t it? How do elements that are so different manage to get along? As I mentioned in the post you’re referring to (April 14: The Future with Wood and Water), Water and Wood relate on the Nurturing Cycle, so this connection can have a nurturing feel to it. Note that I say, “can.” How a Nurturing Cycle relationship feels will vary greatly depending on the elements involved, who is “feeding” who, and if the interactions are casual and fun or serious and stressed. This especially impacts Woods.
Your husband, as a Wood, will care about things like politics, will always have opinions, and will “rant” because frustration and anger are where Woods go when they’re stressed. And politics usually stress Woods; the concern that the “wrong” party or person will win and create chaos worries many Woods. I guarantee you’re not the only household where ranting abounds these days.