Dear Vicki: My sister started a business a few years ago helping people de-clutter their homes. Shelley’s brilliant at it, too; nothing is out of place in her house and not a single drawer is jammed full of stuff. As a stay at home mom with older children and time on my hands, I started helping out by answering phones and filing. At first it was fun working together, but recently it seems that nothing I do is good enough for Shelley. She doesn’t like the notes I leave about phone calls (too rambling), the way I file (not consistent), or even the clothes I wear to her office (not professional). It’s really put pressure on our relationship. We’re about to re-open after the pandemic and I’m wondering if I should just quit. But her business has really grown and she needs the help. Plus, she’s my sister; I can’t just walk away. What should I do? Signed: Not Good Enough
Dear Not Good Enough: Ah, sisters! They’re family, but usually different. And you two are really different in some very important ways! I suspect that you are a primary Earth personality and your sister Shelley is a primary Metal personality. Earth people love helping others, especially family. And it was clearly a Metal personality who wrote the old proverb: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” (Actually, the proverb was written by Benjamin Franklin who I completely believe was a Metal personality!)
The good news is that you and your sister relate on the Nurturing Cycle of the Five Elements model, which is the big circle in the model below. This means, by definition, your connection should feel supporting. The challenge is that it is Earth that feeds Metal on the Nurturing Cycle, so Shelley will feel more supported by your relationship than you will. Also, because Shelley’s a Metal personality, she may well expect your support. Metal people often feel like it’s the most natural thing in the world for Earth people to cater to their every whim. And in some ways, it is. Earth personalities not only love helping and taking care of people, they love being needed. However, in the current situation, your sister’s Metal tendencies and how they contrast with your Earth tendencies seem to be creating some friction, so let’s see what can be done to bring harmony back to the family.