Dear Vicki: I enjoy your blog and know it’s supposed to be about relationships with other people, but I’m wondering if we can use knowledge of the five elements to help get along better with ourselves. At times I actually feel like two different people. I work in a deadline-driven industry, so I’m usually focused on addressing the tasks at hand for the day. It matters to me to be seen as someone who can make things happen and succeed. But every now and then when I notice someone who needs help, I want to reach out and connect with them, but the voice in my head tells me I have too much to do and should mind my own business. The end result is that I pass by the opportunity to express the compassion I feel, and it makes me sad. Is there something I can do to change this? Signed, Too Efficient
Dear Too Efficient: Your question is a beautiful illustration of the fact that our personal elements can and do become out of balance in relationship to each other. As I’ve said before, we each have all five elements in our personality make-up, it’s just that one or two are the most prominent, so create the personality we manifest to the world. And even thought our primary element determines how we see things, it shouldn’t interfere with our ability to express the totality of who we are. When that happens, it can indicate that something is out of balance in the way our personal five elements are relating and interacting with each other.
In your case, it sounds like you have a primary Wood personality; Wood people do want to be seen as someone who can make things happen and succeed. This is very important to them. Earth people, on the other hand, love to connect with and help people, so it’s likely you have Earth as your secondary element. And the fact that you are unable to express your Earth energies the way you’d like to suggests that you are manifesting too little Earth. That is often referred to as deficient Earth.
There could be many reasons for this, but given that you have a primary Wood personality which relates to your secondary Earth via the Controlling Cycle in the model, I think it’s safe to say that your Wood is over-controlling your Earth at an emotional level. Your letter didn’t mention if you’ve been more angry or impatient than usual lately, but these would be additional clues that you have too much Wood energy at the moment and it’s affecting your ability to express your Earth.
Dear Vicki: I have a question about getting along better with myself. I know I’m a primary Fire. I have a great deal of passion for what I do and can tell that it rubs off on other people. On my good days, I have loads of interests, buckets of energy, and am a fun outgoing person. But on bad days, I have a hard time moving forward, I procrastinate until the whole day is gone, and my passion turns into frustration or indifference. It’s like my Fire has been snuffed out. I do enjoy reading, meditating, and coming up with ideas for my business, so wonder if I might have a secondary Water. This would take down my Fire and make me crazy, right? But maybe I’m not really a secondary Water. How would I know? Signed: Crazy Fire
Dear Crazy Fire: It does sound like you are a primary Fire with a secondary Water. The relationship between the two is that of opposing forces: pure yang and pure yin. You might think that could make you crazy, but in the Five Elements model opposing forces aren’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, they can be a very, very good thing.
Remember that the goal in the Five Elements model is to maintain balance. Too much or too little of any one element is a threat to the whole, so the system is designed with balancing mechanisms built right in. If there’s too little of an element, there’s another element that can be counted on to increase energy for it via the Nurturing Cycle. If there’s too much of an element, there’s another element that can be counted on to decrease its energy via the Controlling Cycle. Your Fire and Water relate to each other via the Controlling Cycle, which means Water stands at the ready to make sure your Fire doesn’t go too wild for too long. That’s important for you because Fires really can burn themselves out. Fires have the least amount of structure or boundaries of any of the Five Elements which means it’s hardest for them to pull back and chill. Without Water, Fires risk depletion, which is a very important point for you.
Dear Vicki: I have a lot of anger surfacing these days. I am over-the-top angry with the political campaigns and the way people are being treated, but recently realized it parallels how certain family members treated me in the past. I let them get away with it, had compassion for their bad behavior, and didn’t really acknowledge how I felt about being disrespected and judged. Finally, two years ago I stepped away from these relationships. At first I felt fantastic, but now my anger at the campaigning has made me realize that I am angry at myself for being a doormat all those years. I even have conversations with myself about this sometimes and deeply regret my lack of action. I am a Metal/Fire, but am turning into a roaring Wood. I read your blog and notice that you often suggest environmental ways to help balance an element. Can you help me? Signed: Angry in Atlanta
Dear Angry: Let me say that it’s truly amazing how many people, especially women, have approached me via this blog and my private practice to express anger at the way groups of people are being treated by specific candidates this year. Individual rights matter in America, and when those aren’t respected it can bring up issues for all of us. I think that’s happening now as part of the presidential campaign in a way we didn’t expect as a country. So, you are not alone in feeling angry, but let’s look at how this is affecting you and what we can do to shift the pattern.
Remember that we all have all five elements in our make up and can draw on them at will when we need what they have to offer. If we are not a primary Fire but need to be more outgoing in a particular situation, we can tap our Fire. If we need compassion, we can tap our Earth, etc. And sometimes, a specific element can step to the front of the line to help us process something we need to process. I think that’s what is happening for you.
While you might normally be a Metal/Fire, right now it sounds like your Wood is ready to process the anger it feels at the Earth part of you that stood in compassion for people and allowed them to treat you poorly. Your Wood also sounds upset that your Earth took so long to step away from these people. The good news is that your Earth did finally step away! Earth has a very hard time ending relationships, especially family relationships. And since Wood controls Earth, your Wood might also be upset at itself for not stepping in sooner and balancing the over-compassionate Earth. The conversations you’re having in your head about what you should have said or wished you’d said also indicate an out of balance Earth.