Trouble Finding the Right Words?

Dear Readers: Welcome to an intermittent feature of the Ask Vicki blog: Five Element Fixes. Over the years, in addition to questions regarding relationships, as a naturopathic physician I’ve been asked about a variety of issues. Questions regarding physical concerns, certainly, but also emotional, mental, and even spiritual issues, as well. And in truth, they are all relationships questions because they address how we relate to ourselves and our environment. The answers to these questions are usually short and sweet, but also rational and logical. And of course, they are grounded in the Five Elements model! The information seems more important now than ever before, so I’d like to share some of these with you here. 

Question: With all that’s been going on in the U.S. I often find myself at a loss for words when talking with people. Part of me would just like to float away to an island and be by myself, yet when friends express ideas that I don’t agree with, I want to share my thoughts but just can’t seem to find the right words. Any suggestions?

Answer: There certainly is a lot going on in our country right now. And much of it involves topics that can be quite controversial. That said, I applaud your desire to want to speak up and be heard. 

Frequently, not being able to find the right words can indicate an imbalance in the Water part of our personality. Your desire to “float away to an island” by yourself also speaks to a possible issue with Water energy. 

Whether you are a primary Water personality or are just having trouble with the Water part of your personality (remember, we have all five of the elemental personalities in our energetic make-up), a great way to help balance Water energy is to wear an aquamarine stone against your skin 24/7 for at least one month. Pendants on chains or bracelets are usually the easiest way to do this. The important part is for the stone to make direct contact with your skin.

Why: The Water element governs imagination and creativity, especially in writing and speaking. While a passion for working with words is often attributed to the Metal elemental personality, creativity using words sits with the Water elemental personality. And that can mean both written words and spoken words. So, when people have problems expressing themselves in words (finding the right words or being at a loss for words), it usually indicates an issue with the Water part of their personality. And aquamarine is excellent at building and/or balancing Water energy. 

Fortunately, aquamarine isn’t an expensive stone, especially if you can find it in the raw, unfaceted state. It’s actually an exceptionally beautiful stone in that form, too. But if you can’t find an aquamarine, wearing blue clothing daily or spending time near water will do the same thing. Basically, more Water energy will mean more creativity, including finding and using the words you want. Blessings to you!

Stay safe and well,


Her Husband Never Finishes Anything

Dear Vicki: My husband of two years is a sensitive, creative, artistic man. Bart makes pottery, hand-builds furniture, and paints a lot. When not involved in a creative endeavor, he can usually be found at a coffee shop with friends discussing some profound topic. The problem I’m having with Bart is his inability to stay focused long enough to finish projects and promote them. He’s had many offers to paint murals for people or make furniture, but he never does because he’s still working on his other projects. I do freelance marketing for small businesses and not-for-profit groups and really love helping people. I have tried to help Bart get his act together, but as you can imagine, my trying to structure him doesn’t go over well. Frankly, I’m getting a little frustrated that he can’t seem to finish anything and it’s beginning to affect our marriage. Can you help? Signed, Frustrated in Franklin

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Dear Frustrated: You are at a key point in your marriage. The honeymoon is over and now you’re dealing with the nitty gritty of who you are at your core and how compatible you two really are. The good news for you and Bart is that you probably have very compatible elemental personalities. Bart clearly sounds like a primary Water personality. Water people are creative, artistic, and usually ready to discuss anything that seems big picture or philosophic. You, on the other hand, sound like a primary Wood personality. Your occupation in marketing – which is the ability to plan how to position and promote someone or something – is right up Wood’s alley. The fact that you are frustrated also speaks to Wood, because anger and frustration are where stressed Wood people usually go.

In the Five Elements model, Water and Wood relate to each other the Nurturing Cycle, with Water feeding Wood, which means you should have a happy, nurturing relationship. And you probably do; there are probably many times you feel loved and supported by your Water husband, and he feels the exactly the same about you. That is all well and good, but what you’re describing is a big issue that quite often creates tension in Water/Wood relationships and that’s the issue of structure.

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Work Sucks: It’s Like Herding Cats!

Dear Vicki: I work for a large advertising firm and have been very successful at making good things happen for my company. I was recently promoted, but now things aren’t going so well. My responsibilities include managing a department of what we call “creatives” (the people who actually develop and produce the ads) and it’s a nightmare. They are excellent at what they do (we have won many awards), but they miss deadlines, skip conference calls, dress in an extremely casual manner even around our corporate clients, show up late, you name it. And no amount of chastising from me seems to work. I like my work and up until now have done an extremely good job for my firm, but managing this group is like herding cats and Im clearly failing. What can I do to get them to tow the line? Signed: Hates Cats

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Dear Hates Cats: I had to chuckle at your sign off.  In truth, I suspect you don’t really hate cats. Rather, you hate situations that are “out of control,” and that gives us a good idea of your primary personality. Both Wood people and Metal people have a strong relationship with the concept of control, but their needs are quite different. Metals need to feel that they are in control and Woods need to avoid the chaotic feeling of being out of control. The fact that you are good at making things happen at work suggests that you are a Wood personality; Metals are usually better at understanding why things happen than making them happen. As a Wood, you bring a great deal of structure to everything you do. In fact, of all the Five Elements personalities, only Metal has more structure. And that structure will usually stand you in good stead in any corporate environment. Unfortunately, you have landed in one of the few places where that isn’t necessarily true. When managing overly creative people, artificially imposed structure often doesn’t work. Let’s see how we can help.

Highly creative people usually have a lot of Water energy in their personality make-up. The two reasons for this are that imagination sits in the Water element and the Water element has very little structure. Think of water in nature: it has no structure of its own but will conform to any structure offered, be that water glass or riverbed. This is both the bad and good news for you. Left to their own devises, Water people will usually go with the flow wherever that flow might take them, which allows them to follow their creative muses as need be. However, it does make managing them a bit like herding cats. But just like in nature, Water people will usually take any reasonable structure offered them, so you should be able to impose some managerial structure. The key point here is that the structure must be reasonable from the perspective of a Water, not a Wood. We’ll come back to this later.

Another issue you need to consider if you are going to successfully manage a department of Water people is how you and your “creatives” relate to each other because this will set the tone for your every interaction. In the Five Elements model, Water and Wood relate via the Nurturing Cycle with Water feeding Wood, so in theory, managing these Waters should be heaven for you. In nature, wood absolutely needs water to survive. An advertising agency is nothing without good ads, so in business, you do need your creatives. But going back to nature, too much water will rot wood every time and therein lies part of your problem. Rotting wood loses structure. Even though your creatives feed you with what you need to produce good ads, too much Water will weaken you (rot you, so to speak), overwhelm your structure, and create chaos. Because Woods need to avoid chaos, their response to this perceived lack of structure is usually to impose even more structure, which rarely goes over well with Waters. So what can you do?

First and foremost, I encourage you to build on the fact that you and your creatives absolutely can have a mutually beneficial relationship; it’s part of everyone’s wiring. So instead of coming on strong and demanding they “tow the line,” try approaching them as partners in a process that really does benefit everyone. It truly can be a win-win: you need their creativity and they need to be creative. Yes, the corporate world demands a certain degree of structure – deadlines must be met, budgets adhered to, etc. – but there is usually wiggle room in everything. Meet with your creatives and find out what they like about their jobs, and what they don’t. Create a team environment where they feel like they belong. Remember that Waters need outside structure, they can’t do it for themselves, but it needs to be reasonable to them. The Water personality is often compared to the innocence and wonder of a child, and children do well with reasonable structure. Find out what your group of Waters thinks is reasonable and try to make that happen for them. Just like children, Waters are usually appreciative of the people who create a structure that gives them space to play in the world of imagination. Plus, your Waters get paid for it!

Bottom line, if you insist on seeing yourself as their boss and implementing strict guidelines that must be followed, it will be like herding cats and you will fail. But if you can build an environment where they can work and create in a playful way, they will be happy and productive. Accomplish that and you will continue to be very successful at making good things happen for your company. Blessings to you!