Time Has Changed Metal Co-Worker, Not For The Better

Dear Vicki: I’m writing about a co-worker of mine who I’m pretty sure is a Metal. Jim always follows the rules, arrives exactly at 8am and leaves exactly at 5pm, and is fastidious in his work. We’ve been at the same small structural design firm for several years and usually get along just fine. But for the past few months, Jim’s acting like a completely different guy. He used to be pleasant and a hard worker, but now he is often what my grandmother used to call “prickly.” He’s argumentative, disagreeable, and makes rude or insulting comments under his breath (but still loud enough to be heard). We’ve ignored this at work – our office manager says Jim is going through his second divorce – but it’s really becoming uncomfortable. I dread going to work for fear that a loud argument will break out between Jim and Frank, our sales manager, who can be overbearing himself. Is there something I can do to help Jim, and other people in our office, stay happy with each other? Signed Worried in Wisconsin

Dear Worried: Jim is lucky to have such a caring and considerate co-worker. He does sound like a Metal, and while you don’t mention your element, I suspect you are a combination of Metal and Earth. To enjoy structural design work suggests that you have the meticulousness and precision of a Metal. But it’s your Earth that’s upset about Jim’s rudeness and the potential for conflict at your small office. Your sincere desire to help Jim also speaks of Earth. And Frank, your sales manager, may well be a Wood because the outgoingness of Woods usually makes them great at sales. The fact that he’s a Wood will also make Frank more sensitive to out of balance energy coming from Jim. Let’s take a look at how you might help Jim and your office “stay happy with each other.”

First, it’s important to remember that you, as an Earth, relate to Jim on the Nurturing Cycle, with your Earth feeding Jim’s Metal. This will make you feel somewhat “motherly” toward Jim and is probably a factor in your desire to help him. Frank, on the other hand, relates to Jim on the Controlling Cycle, with Jim’s Metal controlling Frank’s Wood. This dynamic alone can create an undercurrent of tension in your office; Woods usually don’t like to be controlled. And as an aside, you probably do find Frank somewhat overbearing because he relates to you on the Controlling Cycle, with his Wood controlling your Earth. The fact that your Metal controls Frank’s Wood probably allows you to hold your own with him, but it’s your Earth that wants peace in the kingdom.

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Water Wants to Change the World

Dear Vicki: I am a primary Water, secondary Wood having relationship troubles the world. Everything feels so harsh out there and getting worse. Everywhere I go I encounter people who are aggressive, bullying, and/or controlling. It must be me attracting them, right? But why? The world is meant to be easy going, peaceful, loving, and full of people pulling together. That’s what all the elements want, isn’t it? But that sure isn’t happening. My Water would like to hide under the covers and never come out, but my Wood says that won’t get me anywhere. What is out of balance?  Can I change the world around me? Signed: Mrs. Worn Down and Exhausted 

Dear Mrs. Worn Down: I love your statement that the Five Elements model wants everyone to pull together and get along. That is wonderful, and true! But pulling together and getting along might not always look easy going, peaceful, and loving to everyone. It depends on the elemental filters through which we view the actions of others. In fact, what looks to you like aggression or bullying might be seen as an act of “tough love” to someone else. And what seems easy going and peaceful to you might seem controlling to someone else. It all depends on our elemental wiring and the wiring of the people with whom we relate. Remember that within the Five Elements model there are three possible kinds of relationships. We can relate via the Nurturing Cycle, via the Controlling Cycle, or with someone who is the same element as we are.

Nurturing Cycle relationships often do feel nurturing, as well as easy going, peaceful, and loving. On the other hand, Controlling Cycle relationships usually won’t feel that way, even thought there’s just as much love in these relationships. Controlling Cycle love often looks and feels more like tough love. As the name implies, these relationships can feel controlling, with some aggression and even bullying thrown in. What it feels like relating to someone who is the same primary element will depend on what element both people have as their primary. Relationships between two Earths will be very different from relationships between two Woods or two Fires. The kind of relationship we are in will affect how we perceive everything.

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