How Metal is Reflected in Others

Dear Vicki: I really appreciated your response to Problem Fire, but it brought up a question for me. She asked if having trouble with an elemental expression in someone else means that we need to work on our own expression of that element. Her example was Fire in her brother-in-law, but I’m having trouble with a Metal co-worker (Grant). I’m a Metal, too, so I should understand him, right? Yet everything he does seems to rub me the wrong way. I find him controlling, haughty, and arrogant, but I don’t think I’m any of those things. At least I didn’t used to be. Lately, my family has suggested that Grant might be rubbing off on me. He was hired a year ago to help me with the books in a small construction firm, so we are around each other all day every week. We’re both Metals, so shouldn’t we get along? Or does the fact that I’m having trouble with Grant’s Metal energy mean I need to work on my own? Signed: Problem with Metal

Dear Problem with Metal: The short answer is yes, if your Metal energy is out of balance, you need to work on it. But the longer answer is to address why a fellow Metal can throw off your energies. We have spent a lot of time in this blog discussing how the elements affect each other via the Nurturing and Controlling Cycles. If you are a regular reader, you probably have a good understanding that, as a Metal, your relationships with Water and Earth people will carry a nurturing or building tone (Earth feeds Metal, Metal feeds Water). Conversely, your relationships with Wood and Fire people will carry a controlling or balancing tone (Fire controls Metal, Metal controls Wood). These are the basic patterns that sit at the core of the Five Elements model.

However, we also have relationships with people who have the same primary element as we do. These relationships are usually less dynamic than Nurturing or Controlling Cycle relationships because there isn’t the movement of energy through the cycles to keep things fresh. But, as we have said, no one will understand you better than someone with the same primary element as you. What we haven’t discussed as much is how people with the same element can affect us. And just like with the other elemental relationships, it comes down to whether the people we’re interacting with, in your case another Metal, have balanced or out of balance energies themselves. Metals with balanced energies will help you stay balanced. Metals with out of balanced energies will bring you down. Let’s look at why.

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Softening Metal Husband’s Structure Around Schedules

Dear Vicki: I need help with my marriage. Sam and I have been married for 22 years and have two daughters in college. Five years ago we started our own business and it has been very stressful trying to grow it to profitability. There’s been lots of fighting, arguing, and aloneness these last few years, but never much making up. Starting this business seems to have highlighted our problems and I’m not sure what to do. I’m just learning about the Five Elements, but I think I’m primarily Earth. I also see a fair amount of Wood in me, and some Water. Sam is Metal; very, very Metal. He works all the time and never wants to focus on us. I don’t have enough Fire to lure him away from work or his obsession with structure and schedules, but I think he had some Fire once. When we met, we had so much fun and used to laugh a lot; it was something I loved about him. What do I need to focus on to help my marriage? Build my Wood?  I’m so tired of not being supported. I know I need to reconnect with the female relationships I let slide once we started our business, but I’d like to help my marriage, too. What can I do? Signed: Feeling Alone

Dear Feeling Alone: Running a family business is a lot like having another child; it can take everything you have to make it successful. My husband and I ran a business together for several years, so I totally understand what you are going through. As you have found, the business can become the primary focus of everything you do, leaving little time to keep up with other relationships. Sadly, this also means there is less time to do what is necessary to help keep a marriage strong.

At a very intuitive level, you have grasped what needs to be done: you need to help yourself first, then you can help your marriage. As an Earth, strong and lasting connections are of utmost importance to you. Family is everything, certainly more important than business success. Your Wood will want the personal accomplishment, of course, but your primary Earth will care much more about the connections you have with family and close friends. But for Sam as a Metal, business success will matter as much as, if not more than, marriage and family. Unlike Woods, who see success as a reflection of their value as a person, Metals see success as an indication that they are wise and understand the ways of the world. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one. Also, Woods see the future and believe they have all the time in the world. With that comes the belief that if this business isn’t successful, perhaps the next one will be. Metals, who sit at the end of the Five Elements cycle, see the past and know that they are quite literally running out of time. Structuring that time is a Metal’s way of assuring the time is used wisely. Sam may perceive this business as his only chance to prove himself, so will put his all into it. And remember, unlike Earth, Metals are just fine alone. In fact, many Metals prefer being alone. But if they are going to be with anyone, they will usually partner with an Earth. And that is the silver lining in your situation.

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The Sparks of Fire and Metal: Structure and Control

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.

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