Dear Vicki: In your blog posts you’ve discussed control and what it means relative to the Five Elements model. I understand the theory that control is important to maintain balance and that each element has an element that is meant to control it. But in reality, this control stuff can be a problem. I’m a Fire person and whenever I’m around a Metal person, (someone who seems uptight and rigid to me), I can’t help getting super fiery with them. Sometimes that means I panic, but usually it means I flirt or go overboard with sharing way too much, too soon. I know Fire is meant to control Metal, but can we sense that we’re “meant to control” someone and react without thinking? This has become a real problem lately because my new boss is a Metal guy and I’m having a hard time not coming off as inappropriate. Help! Signed: Fire in Frisco
Dear Fire: The quick answer to your great question is yes, we can sense when we are around someone on our Controlling Cycle. But we can also sense when we are around someone on our Nurturing Cycle. And we can oftentimes sense if either are manifesting a balanced version of their primary element, or are out of balance. This is usually very unconscious and is part of the apparent mystery behind instantly liking or disliking someone when we meet them. The state of their primary element, and how it relates to our primary element, are very subtle aspects of the like/dislike dynamic we have all experienced.
Our elemental wiring is a core part of our personalities. As we discussed in a post last February, our primary elements are just like tuning forks. Ting a tuning fork and other tuning forks will always respond. At an elemental level, we will resonate in harmony with an element on our Nurturing Cycle and can sense a slight disharmony around an element on our Controlling Cycle. And honestly, sometimes what we sense around someone on our Controlling Cycle can be more than a slight sense of discomfort, depending on whether they control us or we control them.
Dear Vicki: I’m having trouble with a new boss and wonder if you can help. Alex was brought in last month to manage the restaurant where I work as a waitress while I’m in college. It’s a well-respected chain and I make good money, but it’s no longer fun. Alex has a dreary personality; he’s a real downer. We all used to laugh and joke around a lot, but since he’s been there, it seems like the joy has gone out of everything. Alex doesn’t like any of us, either, especially me; he’s cut back my hours and told me to get some rest. Really? He’s such a control freak. I’d planned on staying in this job until I graduate next year, but now I’m not so sure. My mom knows a lot about the Five Elements – she’s the one who suggested I write you – and she says I’m a Fire and Alex seems like a Water or Metal to her. Can you help? I don’t want to quit my job. It’s so fun. Signed: Waitress in Wautoma
Dear Waitress: I agree, your job can be great fun. I worked as a waitress while in college and thoroughly enjoyed it. There is usually a fair amount of camaraderie between the staff in a restaurant, plus the customers are out for a good time. You probably do well there, too, because your Fire tendency to be outgoing and enjoy connecting with people is perfect for working as a waitress. But for a restaurant to run well, not everyone should be a Fire. Can you imagine what it would be like at work if everyone always said “Yes!” right away, if no one stopped and thought through the ramifications of a specific decision, or took time to submit the food and beverage orders weekly? It would be chaos and the restaurant would soon be out of business.
In fact, your restaurant is a perfect example of the Five Elements model in action: it needs all of the elements to be successful: Waters for creativity and envisioning potential, Woods for getting things done, Fires to keep people happy and engaged, Earths to handle the food, and Metals to manage the business end. As the Five Elements model says, if any part of this gets out of balance, the whole will suffer.
Dear Vicki: I know these are difficult times for many people, but the chaos became personal for me last month when the art gallery where I’ve worked for 20 years was sold. The previous owner was a kind, gentle soul who ran a gallery that allowed the joy of discovering art to steal over his patrons in a quiet way. But he retired and the new owner, Mr. Cardon, is a bombastic man who thinks he needs to hit people over the head with ads, promotions, and events to increase attendance at the gallery. And honestly, maybe he’s right; I have no idea if the gallery was making money before or not. But for me, it was a sweet place to work, and now it’s not. The chaos Mr. Cardon creates on a daily basis terrifies me and makes me want to quit. What can I do? Oh, if it helps, I’m pretty sure I’m a Water/Earth. Signed: Terrified in Tennessee
Dear Terrified: It’s always difficult where there’s a change in leadership, whether at a personal or national level. We tend to appreciate reliability and steadiness, and by definition, change will disrupt this. Your situation at work is an excellent example. The previous owner was someone you enjoyed working with, someone who created an environment that pleased you and made you happy. As a Water/Earth, quiet and comfortable will be very important to you. Water carries full yin energy, an energy of withdrawal, peace, and silence. Earth is about comfort and long-term connections. You clearly found a perfect job at the gallery and it sounds like you had 20 years of happiness there. But now that’s changed.
The new owner, Mr. Cardon, sounds like a Wood. Remember that Woods like personal accomplishment. Quietness and sameness usually aren’t appreciated by Woods; they enjoy shaking things up to make their mark. The good news is that Woods are usually excellent planners, so there should be some degree of reasoning behind what Mr. Cardon is doing. The best you can hope for is that he is a balanced Wood who has a reasonable plan for the gallery. This would mean that the chaos you’re experiencing will eventually subside into a more stable routine of events that he deems effective. The worst-case scenario is that he isn’t a balanced Wood and life at the gallery will be forever changed while he owns it. Either way, you have options for making this time of transition easier for you.