Her Son’s Teacher Has Become Demanding!

Dear Vicki: I’m writing about my son, Kirk. He’s a quiet, loner kind of teen and a very talented artist. Last fall Kirk signed up for a drafting class with a teacher I’ll call Mr. Lane. Kirk loved the artistic aspects of the class and appreciated the structure Mr. Lane brought. All was well until Mr. Lane received our district’s Teacher of the Year award. According to Kirk, after that Mr. Lane began demanding greater accuracy and precision from this beginning drafting class. He also started bragging about the award and other accomplishments he’d had that the students would probably never obtain. Kirk is having a really hard time with this and wants to quit the class. Is there anything I can do to help him stay in a class he loved? Signed, Mom Who Cares

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Dear Mom: It’s very unfortunate that a class Kirk so enjoyed has taken such a turn for the worse. And of course, it’s a difficult situation because Kirk is in no position to challenge how his teacher acts. But I do think there is a very definite elemental personality interaction occurring between the two, so let’s see if we can offer some assistance to Kirk.

You describe your son as a “quiet, loner kind of teen and a very talented artist.” In the Five Elements model, this would equate to the Water personality. And based on your descriptions of Mr. Lane, it sounds like he is a primary Metal personality; precision and structure are hallmarks of the Metal element. It says a lot about Kirk’s flexibility that he was able to embrace the structure Mr. Lane brought to the drafting class. Water people usually don’t appreciate someone interfering with their “go with the flow” nature. Clearly,  your son is open enough to being guided (which can also be a Water energy trait in balanced Water people) that he embraced Mr. Lane’s direction. Good for him.

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Alone Time and Relationship

Dear Vicki: My husband of 15 years and I divorced two years ago. It was his choice and very difficult for me; I crawled into a hole for quite some time. Recently, I’ve started dating a nice fellow I’ll call Tom, but I’m having trouble figuring him out. Sometimes he’s sensitive and caring, and sometimes he’s aloof and distant. When he’s in his caring place, we get along great. But when he’s off on his own, I tend to drift away, too, which I don’t think speaks well for a future together. I do love time alone – I’m an art therapist so enjoy my painting – and Tom is an attorney who spends a great deal of time at work. Do you think we have a chance of making it work? Signed, Can This Work

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Dear Can This Work: First, let me say that I pretty much believe any relationship can “make it” if both parties understand the dynamics of their connection and are willing to work with them. There will be ups and downs, of course, but these can be predicted based on your elemental personalities. Knowing what your personal tendencies are in a relationship will always help build on the ups and smooth over the downs.

It sounds to me like you may have a primary Water personality given your love for art and an appreciation of time alone to paint. Creativity of all kinds sits in the Water element. But the fact that you use your talent to work as a therapist suggests that you also have a strong amount of Earth energy in your personality, too. Earth people love helping others, and they also value home and family. Your concern about being able to “make it work” with Tom speaks to a desire for a long-term relationship, which is also very important to Earth people.

As an attorney, it’s very likely that Tom has a primary Metal personality because it takes an appreciation of detail and hierarchy to practice law. Metal people also require time alone to work, which would explain his tendency to distance himself from you at times. And when Metal people become overworked or tired, they can come off as aloof, so I think it’s a pretty good guess that Tom is a primary Metal personality. However, his sensitivity and caring with you suggests a good amount of Earth energy in his personality, too.  Bottom line: In your relationship with Tom he brings Metal and Earth personality tendencies and you bring Water and Earth personality tendencies.

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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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Can Fire/Earth Husband be the Man in the Family?

Dear Vicki: I’m a Metal with a Wood secondary married to a Fire guy who has a lot of Earth. I sometimes wonder how we’ve made it seven years when we’re so different, but we have. In the good times, Rory’s Fire keeps my Metal from getting too stuck, and I’ve definitely learned to enjoy life, laugh, and play more thanks to him. And he says he appreciates how I help hold things together for him. But lately, I feel like I’m the more masculine person in this relationship. I’m the one who sets boundaries, makes plans, keeps us on track, etc. I’m tired of that and angry with him most of the time now. I really wish he could be the man in the family, especially now when we’re facing financial problems that require careful planning and holding to a budget. I think I need to bring out his inner Wood so he can help get things done. How do I do that? Signed: Needs More Wood

Dear Needs More Wood: The issue you’re having with Rory is one of structure, so it makes sense that you would want him to manifest more Wood, which is the second most structured of the elements. Metal is the most. From a structure perspective, that means that you have as a primary and secondary the two most structured elements possible. Rory, as you know, is much less structured. In fact, his primary Fire is the least structured of all of the elements. Fire is really just light; it is heat made visible. No structure there. But Earth does have structure, and that is important.

I think it’s this issue of structure that’s fueling your belief that you’re more “masculine” than Rory. In our patriarchal culture, the masculine principle (yang) is always seen as more structured and “no nonsense.” The feminine principle (yin) is more diffuse and go with the flow. But the Five Elements model teaches us that any whole needs equal amounts of yin and yang interacting in a dynamic fashion to maintain balance. That includes the “whole” that is your marriage. As you stated in your letter, during good times you and Rory do keep each other pretty balanced. But now that you’re in a tough spot, you aren’t feeling very balanced. Let’s see what we can do to move your marriage back to balance and also provide you with support.

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