Her Close Friend Really Changed!

Dear Vicki: Max and I have been close friends since childhood. We met at a child’s reading event at the local library when we were 9 years old and bonded over the books. Growing up, Max was a quiet, go with the flow kind of guy and I was a quiet, go with the flow kind of girl. We hung out a lot. But during college, Max really started to change. The first Christmas vacation back home we went to a poetry reading together (Max loved to write poetry), but he seemed cold and withdrawn. I wondered what was going on, but he never mentioned any problems at school, so I never asked. But by the time we graduated from college last year, Max was a different person. These days, his easy-going nature is completely gone and he’s become very precise and rigid. What happened to my old Max? I don’t know if it will help, but I’m a children’s librarian and Max is a computer programmer. Signed: Missing Max

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Dear Missing Max: Childhood is a wonderful time of imagination, play, and discovery. As we’ve said here many times, regardless of our primary elemental personality, we all use a great deal of Water energy during childhood. If we are also a primary Water personality, our love of books, going with the flow, creativity, and the other aspects of the Water personality will stay with us as we grow.

However, if the Water personality aspects we manifest during childhood change as we grow, it is possible that our primary elemental personality really wasn’t Water, we were just in the Water phase of life. It’s also possible that the changes we manifest as we grow are because we have learned to lead with a different elemental personality for any number of reasons, even though our primary personality was, and still is, Water. And I think that might be what has happened for your friend, Max.

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Her Business Partner is Shirking Responsibilities

Dear Vicki: Abby, my close friend and business partner, has been acting very strange lately. We have a small public relations firm and she’s the organization and power behind it. I’m the enthusiasm and presentation side. It’s worked out really well and our little firm has grown steadily over the past five years. The problem is that our business is stalling right now because Abby hasn’t been very organized or powerful lately. She’s been low-key, distant, and sort of stuck in the past. When I ask her what’s going on, she denies that anything is wrong. I know her only daughter recently moved out of state, but Abby made it through a contentious divorce a few years ago, so I can’t imagine Shelley’s move would affect her this way. As her business partner, I feel it is my responsibility to let Abby know we need her to snap out of it. What can I do to help Abby get back in the saddle? Signed, Losing Steam 

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Dear Losing Steam: It appears that you and Abby have a great set-up in your business. As the organization and power behind your firm, I suspect that Abby’s normal elemental personality is Wood. As we have said here many times, Wood people are focused visionaries who are great at running things. You, on the other hand, sound like a primary Fire personality. Fire people are nothing if not enthusiastic. They also are comfortable in front of others, which makes them excellent actors, salespeople, and presenters. Finally, you and Abby relate to each other on the Nurturing Cycle of the Five Elements model, with Abby’s Wood feeding your Fire, which as long as you both stay balanced, works great for everyone.

I believe that the key to your current problem rests in the fact that, at the moment, Abby is not a balanced Wood personality. In fact, I think it’s possible that she isn’t acting from her Wood personality at all these days and that’s what’s hurting your business. It sounds like what’s happening for Abby is that she’s experiencing a temporary stint as an out of balance Metal personality. When you describe Abby’s behavior as low-key, reserved, and stuck in the past, you are definitely describing characteristics of an out of balance Metal person.

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Can Fire Friend Be Structured Like a Metal?

Dear Vicki: I read your blog pretty regularly and think I understand the Five Elements, but one area confuses me. You describe Metals as being logical and process oriented, which I understand because I am a Metal. However, my good friend Sherry is a Fire and I swear I see her behave in ways that seem to me to be serious and infinitely reasonable. Am I rubbing off on her? She does seem to rub off on me at times; I certainly have more fun when she’s around. But there are so many times that she drives me crazy, I’d like to see her be more Metal more often. How can she be Metal-like some days and not others? Signed: Wants More Metal

Dear Wants More Metal: This is a great question. While no one would ever confuse a pure Fire personality with a pure Metal, the reality is that we are never purely any one element. As you know from reading this blog, we have all five elements in our makeup. And while our primary element frames how we live life, our secondary element definitely “flavors” how our primary expresses itself. Your primary and Sherry’s primary relate on the Controlling Cycle (Fire melts Metal), so there will definitely be times that her Fire drives you crazy and feels controlling (perhaps even threatening) to your Metal. But as you admit in your letter, there are times that Sherry’s Fire loosens you up and you have fun. That’s the way the Controlling Cycle is supposed to work! It helps bring balance.

As to why Sherry might sometimes appear to be more like a Metal, it’s possible that Sherry has Metal as her secondary. The times it expresses itself might be when you find her “serious and infinitely reasonable.” Most Metals find other Metals to be reasonable. In fact, as you may have noticed, if someone wants to change a Metal’s mind, the best approach is to use logic and reason. Sherry might have figured this out about you and seems more Metal when she’s trying to get her way. It’s also possible that Sherry isn’t really as structured as you think, you just interpret some of her behaviors through your own Metal filter of structure. The famous Maslow quote comes to mind here: “To a man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.” There is no doubt that our primary element colors how we look at the world and her people.

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Earth Friend Overwhelms Her

Dear Vicki: We have friends who visit us once a year. She is an out of balance Earth whose conversations center around her grown children that we do not know well. Any attempt to move the conversation to something interesting always fails. And did I mention that she is a talker? I am an introverted primary Water, secondary Metal. Our husbands are happy Woods. While they were here I recognized the Elemental dynamics​ that were occurring but I could not figure out any survival techniques for myself. The men could easily shut her out, but my attempts were countered by her need to stay near me so that I “wouldn’t be alone.” Fortunately, I was able to escape on a couple of extended errands and one visit to my friend, a male Fire element, whose laughter always balances my energy. But for the most part, I felt suffocated all weekend. Help! I need to learn how to cope without blowing up. Where do I start? Signed: Frustrated in Florida

Dear Frustrated: This does sound like a very unpleasant weekend. I’m so sorry. You have done an excellent job of summarizing what the likely dynamics were between the weekend cast of players, and it’s understandable that events unfold as they do. Two Wood guys can easily shut out an unbalanced Earth, but it’s less easy for you as a Water/Metal to do so. Let’s look at why that might be the case and from there we can develop survival techniques for you to use next year.

First, it’s not surprising that your friend is happy to hang with you instead of two Wood guys. Woods control her Earth, so she probably doesn’t like how she feels around two of them. At home, her Wood husband probably balances her, but when he’s not around to do so, she probably does go into full-blown Earth mode. Family is of utmost important to Earths, so her tendency to talk about her children – grown or not – is also not surprising. Your reaction to her abundance of Earth is predictable, too. An abundance of Earth will likely feel suffocating to your Metal (Earth feeds Metal) and restrictive to your Water (Earth controls Water). But for her, because you are what she feeds and controls, being with you will feel almost compelling. Your energies are the focus of her every outward energetic expression.

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Earth Friend: Grounding or Suffocating?

Dear Vicki: Last fall I moved back to my hometown after a ten-year absence and reconnected with an old friend from my high school days. I remember Becca as very caring and considerate, someone who was willing to help out a lot, but she’s really overdoing things now. Under the pretense of helping me get settled, Becca calls or stops by way too often for my taste. I feel suffocated and want to know how I can tell her to back off. I actually look forward to going to work (I’m an attorney) since she doesn’t call me there. I’m pretty sure I’m a Metal, and I really just want to cut things off with Becca, but I don’t want to be unkind. How do I handle this? Signed, Suffocating

Dear Suffocating: It sounds like Becca is an Earth who is genuinely trying to help you get settled after your move. She is doing what comes naturally to her, too, because Earths are wired to help with change. Their energy actually grounds the chaotic energy of transitions. This means that Earths can help stabilize almost any shift, good or bad. Hopefully you moved back to your hometown for a good reason, but change, even positive change, can be challenging. Earth energy helps facilitate adaptation to change, so in that way, having Becca around after your move is a blessing.

Given your reaction to Becca and the fact that you’re an attorney, it’s likely that you are a Metal. As a Metal, you and Becca relate via the Nurturing Cycle, with her Earth feeding your Metal. In proper doses, this should feel good to you. Earths care about people being comfortable and most people appreciate help when relocating. However, in the name of caring about someone, it’s not hard for an Earth to slip into a place that looks and feels more like interfering than assisting. An out of balanced Earth can lose sight of the appropriate amount of support to offer someone and when this happens, their constant attempts to help can come across as smothering, especially to Metals who value their solitude. Given your reaction to Becca’s apparent desire to make you her new project, it seems that’s where you are now.

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