Five Element Fixes: Sadness

Dear Readers: Welcome to a new feature of the Ask Vicki blog! Over the years, in addition to questions regarding relationships, as a naturopathic physician I’ve been asked about a variety of other 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. 


How do I manage the sadness I feel given all that’s going on in the world? 


Using small circles, gently massage the spot on the inside crease of your wrist directly up from your thumb. This is acupressure point Lung 9 and is an important point for moving energy in the Lung meridian. Massage this area for several minutes, then repeat on the other side. You can do this multiple times daily to help when you are feeling sad. 


In Chinese medicine, sadness and grief are carried by the Lung meridian which sits in the Metal element of the Five Elements model. Stagnant or low Lung energy can make grief hard to shake. Rubbing LU-9 gets Lung energy moving and helps to balance it. This makes it easier to move through difficult times and release sadness.

Stay safe and well,


Managing Grief and Control Issues During Difficult Times

Dear Vicki: My widowed mother passed away earlier this year. My older brother, Paul, was named the executor of her will and estate, which surprised me; I assumed we would be co-executors. But Paul is an attorney, so I guess that makes sense. He is very responsible and orderly and has approached this task like it’s the most important thing in the world. But even though I’m a book nerd librarian who coaches girls soccer, I think I have something to offer the process. Basically, the problem is that Paul has a woman who wants to buy Mom’s house straight out, but I think the price is too low and we should wait until the pandemic is over. I have tried discussing this with Paul, but he refuses to budge and just shuts me out. How can I approach Paul and this situation without inflaming it? I feel extremely frustrated and angry, like he has slammed the door in my face. These are such difficult times, and this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Can you help? Signed: Saddened Sister

celtic logo

Dear Saddened Sister: First, I send deep condolences to you and your brother on the loss of your mother. As you say, these are already difficult times, but the passing of your mother certainly makes things much more difficult for your whole family.

To help you address the issue with your brother in the midst of your loss, let’s start by looking at the Five Element personalities and dynamics involved. As a self-described book nerd and librarian coaching girls soccer, you sound like a mix of the Water and Wood elemental personalities. A passion for books and reading usually sits in the Water personality. But it takes a lot of focus, planning, and outward-expressing energy to coach soccer. These are attributes of the Wood personality. Your brother, on the other hand, sounds like a stereotypical primary Metal personality. As we have said here many times, it takes a great deal of detail and precision to practice law, and the Metal elemental personality excels at that.

Continue reading

High School Seniors: Grieving the Loss of “Normal”

Dear Vicki: I know this is a difficult time for everyone, but I am wondering how best to help my daughter Kim. She is a high school senior this year and with the pandemic, she clearly isn’t going to have the same experiences that her older sister did when she graduated from high school three years ago. No senior trip. No senior prom. No live graduation ceremony. Not even the girlfriend sleep-overs. There will be virtual events, but we all know that just isn’t going to be the same. The blessing is that we are all healthy and no one close to us has died from Covid-19. But still, missing so many of the events she has waited for is very hard for Kim. How can I help her process the loss and anger she is feeling? And is there any way to make it better for her? Signed: Mom

celtic logo

Dear Mom: My heart goes out to you and your daughter. Kim is one of an estimated 3.7 million high school seniors in our country who will not have many of the same senior year experiences that previous students have had. And while they may rationally understand the need for social distancing and sheltering at home, it is still difficult to accept that doing these things likely will “ruin” their senior year, at least as far as many of the activities they have looked forward to are concerned. Understanding the elemental personalities contained in the Five Elements model will help us determine how best to help Kim and her fellow seniors cope with the loss of a “normal” senior year.

Because you read this blog, I assume you’re familiar with the Five Elements model and the elemental personalities. But for those who are not familiar with the model or the elemental personalities, I gave a brief overview of both in a post last month which you can read here:

Kim and her fellow high school seniors are facing the reality that the end of their high school careers will not be celebrated with many of the traditional events that have, for decades, marked this symbolic transition to adulthood. And like most of us, they can probably get to a place where they rationally understand that not coming together in large social events will probably save lives – possibly even their own lives or the lives of people they love – but missing the events they have looked forward to for years is still very hard. In truth, I think most of them are grieving a loss of expectations.

Continue reading

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 

celtic logo

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.

Continue reading

She Needs Help for Her Grieving Mother

Dear Vicki: For 48 years, my parents had a happy marriage. They seemed the perfect couple to me: she loved being a stay at home mother and he loved being the proverbial breadwinner for the family (he ran his own consulting firm). They raised three happy children, loved their grandchildren, but always took time for themselves, too. Sadly, my father passed away a year ago and not unexpectedly, my mother has taken it really hard. Since then, she hasn’t been able to find joy in life and seems to have pulled away completely. In many ways it feels like we lost both of them when Dad died. I’m wondering if there is any way to bring my mom back; we all miss her terribly. Thanks for any advice you can offer. Signed: Orphaned in Oregon

celtic logo

Dear Orphaned: When a couple has enjoyed a long and happy marriage, it isn’t uncommon for the surviving spouse to have a difficult time adjusting to life alone. It can be especially hard for people with primary Earth personalities because long-term connections give meaning to their lives. And I think that’s basically what’s going on for your mother; as a stay at home mother of three there is no doubt in my mind that she is a primary Earth personality. And while the loss of a 48-year relationship will be hard for any of us, it can be especially devastating for an Earth person.

However, the flip side of the situation is that sometimes it can be easiest to bring Earth people back from the despair of loss if there are other deep and meaningful relationships still in their lives. These relationships can help them create a new version of how things were before their loss. Fortunately for your mother, it sounds like this is the case for her. She has loving children and grandchildren who clearly want her back in their lives on a regular basis, and that will help you a great deal.

Continue reading