Ask Vicki: Relationship Advice Using the Five Elements

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“So much catches me by surprise these days, I often wish that I had some sense of what was coming. Is there a way to become more intuitive?”...

Time and again people have taken sides against each other for any number of reasons. Disagreeing seems to be a natural – and therefore fairly common – aspect of human behavior. Thankfully, most disagreements can be settled with a little logic or reason, perhaps some legal intervention, and hopefully a healthy dose of kindness....

Recently, I’ve had several questions as to why people seem to disagree about almost everything under the sun these days. Whether we’re talking about something as simple as weather preferences or as serious as politics, there does seem to be a distinct inability to agree on things lately. As one woman put it: “It seems like everyone doesn’t agree with me on everything. Why can’t we all just get along?”...

It’s been almost a year since we were told it might be wise to avoid crowds. Last March, I posted a blog about how each of us (based on out elemental personalities) might handle isolation. Someone suggested re-posting it to remind us of ways we might help manage the continued isolation we are experiencing....

“With all that’s been going on in the U.S. I often find myself at a loss for words when talking with people. Part of me would just like to float away to an island and be by myself, yet when friends express ideas that I don’t agree with, I want to share my thoughts but just can’t seem to find the right words. Any suggestions?”...

Power has been a hot topic in our world lately. Who has it? Who abuses it? Can it transfer? Does it go away? Is it good? Is it bad? And really, what does it mean? A quick answer to that last question can be found in Webster’s dictionary....

Welcome to 2021! Here in the US, it’s certainly starting out with a bang (not necessarily in a good way). It’s been said that it’s hard to change what you don’t know needs changing, so I look at the start of 2021 as offering a pretty clear message that some change might be a good thing. But how does one go about ushering in change? Honestly, I think we begin with ourselves. When we do, that change will not only reflect out to the collective, it can also guide us in ways that allow us to support the collective if further changes are needed. ...

For years, this blog has used the Five Elements model from Chinese medicine to discuss the five basic elemental personalities. We've covered issues like strengths and weaknesses of each, as well as understanding how they relate to each other. At times, we’ve even dipped into how they relate to themselves. One issue we've never covered is what happens to an elemental personality when some form of mental illness is present. Recent events suggest this might be a good time to cover this topic, especially as it relates to the primary Wood personality....

Thank you so much for your enthusiastic support of this blog. I deeply appreciate your letters and comments, as well as the opportunity to explore with you the wisdom embodied in the Five Elements model. This deceptively simple model provides a window into the workings of the universe and helps us better understand ourselves, the people in our lives, and our relationships. As we say a ready goodbye to 2020, I once again offer you The Five Elements Blessing....

The Five Elements model depicts a whole made up of five distinctive parts: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. We usually focus on the unique attributes of each part and how they interact with each other. Water feeds Wood, Wood controls Earth, Earth feeds Metal, Fire melts Metal, etc. During this holiday season, I would like to remind us that at its core, the Five Elements model really illuminates how five unique parts contribute to the balance and survival of the whole. And that means any whole....

“The Winter Solstice is approaching and that means the start of winter. I hate it! The dark and cold always make me very unhappy. My sister loves December, the darker and colder, the better for her. How can we be so different when we’re just one year apart? Could this have something to do with our elemental personalities?”...

“This is supposed to be such a joyful time of year, but try as I might, I always end up sad and depressed around the holidays. And of course, with Covid this year, it’s even worse. ...

“With Covid-19 lately I’ve been a real Scrooge! I criticize everything my husband suggests (I know he’s just trying to help, but his ideas aren’t that great). What can I do to be less critical of him (and actually, less critical in general)?”...

“Thanksgiving is coming and because of Covid, I’ve decided it’s best if I don’t travel home to be with my elderly parents this year. It’s the right thing to do, but my heart literally aches over this. Is there anything that will help?”...

Four years ago, I posted a blog following what seemed to be a particularly contentious and divisive election in 2016 America. Sadly, it appears that little has changed in America over the past four years and the election held here earlier this week is on its way to becoming even more divisive than the previous one. In my 2016 post, I explored the role the Five Elements played in that election with the hope that a greater understanding of the dynamics at play would help heal the country. That remains the impetus and hope behind re-sharing that (annotated) 2016 post today....

“I don’t think of myself as a cowardly person, but I’ve felt afraid of a lot of things lately. Some of it could be justified, but mostly I feel like I’m just being silly. What can I do to manage my fear?”...

“I’ve always had a tendency to get headaches when stressed. Not surprisingly, I’m pretty stressed these days so am having more headaches. I’ve even found myself rather short-tempered when things take too long to happen or don’t turn out the way I want them to. Any tips on managing the headaches?”...

“As winter approaches, I’ve started worrying more. Will we be able to have the traditional holiday celebrations? How will we connect with people if socializing outside isn’t an option? Will the people I care about stay well? And will this ever end? Is there anything that can help me stop worrying so much?”...

“During the pandemic, many of my friends are socializing day and night on Zoom, and sometimes even in person, but I just don’t feel like it, even though I know it would be good for me. How can I convince myself to be more social?”...

“Cal and I met when we were in law school. He was smart, funny, and very outgoing. I was more serious but somehow, we clicked. We married right out of law school and life was fast-paced and passionate...

Sugar cravings sit in the Earth element of the Five Elements model. That’s where our grounding sits, too. With all that’s going on these days, it’s easy to feel stressed and ungrounded. For people with a lot of Earth energy, a little bit of sugar can sometimes help. But remember, too much sugar is never a good thing! It’s bad for us physically and can also heighten our panic response....

“I’m having an issue with my husband of three years. Jax is a wise and kind guy who’s really into things being done the ‘right’ way. When he’s stressed, he can get pretty dismissive, but other than that we usually get along really well. Recently, though, we had a significant argument about the upcoming elections. I can’t believe what’s happening in our country and am terribly concerned. Jax just shrugs and tells me not to worry. ...

“I’m having trouble with a neighbor who keeps using our outdoor pool without being invited. Other than the social distancing thing, her five children splash water all over, run around the pool when we’ve told them to walk, and generally don’t follow the rules. We are already stressed and having rude neighbors here ruins things for my family. I want to do the right thing, but also don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or create a difficult relationship with the people next door.”...

“My husband Roland is a truly kind person, but he has a deep appreciation for structure and doing things the “right” way. Since the pandemic hit, Roland has become judgmental, overly critical, and even somewhat sloppy. His art gallery has reopened, and sales are picking up, but Roland isn’t getting back to his usual self. I’ve tried to support him by bringing cookies and his favorite lunches to the gallery but nothing seems to work. Help!”...

“I’m the mom of two small children and having them home so much lately has given me an opportunity to observe more closely the ways they act with other family members. Are children’s elemental personalities already fixed in place when they are 4 years old and 7 years old?”...

“Family is very, very important to me, but I am having trouble with two cousins who appear to have an overwhelming need to control my life. They strongly suggest that I do things the way they do, according to what they think is right. I have friends that seem to act this way toward me, too. When I haven’t done what they suggest, it has caused family rifts and the breakup of friendships. The pushy people in my life also don’t seem to feel the need to apologize for their actions, so it’s often up to me to make the first move, which doesn’t feel right. What can I do?”...

“For the first time in almost 35 years of marriage, my husband and I are having trouble. If I look back at when things changed, it was probably five years ago when my brother died and I had hip replacement surgery. Instead of the fun-loving, happy homemaker I had been, I became a warrior determined to come back better than ever. Initially, Brad was very supportive and encouraging, but not anymore. Once I recovered, I found that I actually liked being more assertive, even if it meant I was often angry or frustrated. But apparently Brad doesn’t like it. He’s been uncharacteristically opinionated and cruel, is working longer hours, and generally seems to be pulling away.”...

“I hope you can help me understand my younger brother. Growing up, Gavin ran instead of walked, jumped around when excited, and always seemed busy. When we were little, I wanted to stay inside and color or read, but that bored him. In high school, he was on the pep squad and in theater. Just watching him made me tired and irritable. It still does. We’re in our early twenties now and have both moved back home temporarily to take care of our aging parents during the pandemic. I find myself wanting to be around him less and less, which is pretty hard in a small house with so much shut down these days.”...

“Our daughter divorced last year and when the pandemic started, she moved back home with her two-year-old son. Since they’ve been with us, Weston has really changed. I thought this would be a great time for our family with Stacy managing her IT team from here and Weston’s promotion. But my previously optimistic, go with the flow husband has become a gloomy cynic who ignores Stacy, picks on Jimmy, and eats potato chips like there’s no tomorrow.”...

I wish you all a happy Fourth of July in whatever way you do (or don’t) acknowledge the day! Here in the USA, July 4th is when we celebrate the signing of our Declaration of Independence in 1776, an act that formalized our move from a colony of Great Britain to an independent nation fashioned as a democracy. And while we have lasted over 200 years, these days it seems more appropriate than ever to honor and celebrate our bold creation....

“My sister started a business a few years ago helping people de-clutter their homes. As a stay at home mom with older children and time on my hands, I started helping out by answering phones and filing. At first it was fun working together, but recently it seems that nothing I do is good enough for Shelley. It’s really put pressure on our relationship. We’re about to re-open after the pandemic and I’m wondering if I should just quit. But her business has really grown and she needs the help. Plus, she’s my sister; I can’t just walk away. What should I do?”...

Four years and six days ago, a security guard killed 49 people and wounded 53 others during a mass shooting inside the Pulse nightclub. The brutality of the event shocked us all and left lingering questions regarding who would do such a thing, and why. At that time, I posted an attempt to answer those questions from a Five Elements perspective by highlighting the beauty/beast aspect of each elemental personality. Given all that is going on in the US and other parts of the world these days, it seems like this information might once again be helpful....

“My widowed mother passed away earlier this year. My older brother, Paul, was named executor. He is very responsible and orderly and has approached this task like it’s the most important thing in the world. But I think I have something to offer the process. Paul has a woman who wants to buy Mom’s house, but I think the price is too low and we should wait until the pandemic is over. I have tried discussing this, but he refuses to budge. How can I approach Paul and this situation without inflaming it?”...

Over the past week, as peaceful and not-so-peaceful citizens have assembled in the streets of America, I’ve received several calls and emails asking which of the Five Elemental personality types would be most inclined to do this. It might surprise you that each of the elemental personalities could find themselves participating in those activities as well, depending on how balanced they are and the nature of their secondary elemental personality. So, what might make each of the elemental personalities engage in peaceful assembly? And who might sink to property destruction and theft? Let’s take a look....

Over the past week I’ve received several calls and emails asking which of Five Elemental personality types would be most inclined to protest, peacefully or not. Looting and destroying property is a different matter, but it might surprise you that each of the elemental personalities might participate in those activities as well, depending on how balanced they are and their secondary elemental personality. What might make each of the elemental personalities engage in protest, or worse, property destruction and looting?...

I regularly hear from people asking how best to determine their elemental personality. Four years ago, I wrote a blog about just that and thought it might be a good time to share it again....

“A dear friend of the family passed away almost three months ago. She was like an elderly aunt to me and my older sister Ruthie, and it has been hard for me to lose her. I’ve reached out to Ruthie to talk about it, but she apparently doesn’t want to. In hindsight, I can see that Ruthie never really wanted to talk about her feelings. We had a difficult relationship growing up and as we grew, I learned to hide it when I had strong opinions about something or really wanted to do something Ruthie didn’t. Now, I want to talk about Fran, but Ruthie will have none of it.”...

“I know these are difficult times for all of us, but I’m having trouble with my husband. We both work outside of the home so used to spend time together just on weekends. Now we’re together almost 24/7. Lately my kind, intelligent, hardworking guy has turned into a fussy, opinionated jerk who rants continuously about everything. I’m actually enjoying the quiet time at home to catch up on reading, but he’s like a caged animal. How do we get along?”...

“Sami has been my best friend for over a decade. She said she never wanted to be tied down, but that changed last year when she met Hans. Sami really fell for him, and he seemed to feel the same about her. After about six months of what looked to me like crazy, happy, almost all the time togetherness – including sheltering together at Sami’s during this pandemic – Hans left Sami last week for a meditation instructor. Sami’s totally depressed and not herself. What can I do to help her get Hans back?”...

“I have 14-year-old twins who are as different as night and day. With sheltering in place, the four of us are spending almost every waking moment together in our small house. It’s not going well. Tammy thinks Ted is a downer and Ted thinks Tammy lacks substance. My husband thinks they’re both spoiled brats that I clearly failed to raise well as a stay-at-home mom. Do you have any advice for a mom trying desperately to hold her family together during a pandemic?”...

Lately, many of you have inquired if the Five Elements can help manage the fear we’re all feeling regarding the global coronavirus pandemic. All of this is very understandable and yet I do think there are ways we can approach our lives now that will help mitigate some of this fear. And of course, I think the Five Elements can help....

“My daughter Kim 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. There will be virtual events, but we all know that just isn’t going to be the same. 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?"...

“Having everyone at home all of the time is driving me crazy. I’m impatient, cranky, and overwhelmed. I’d love some help, but my husband’s job is more intense than mine, so I haven’t asked him. This means homeschooling our 10-year-old falls to me. I wish we could all go to our separate rooms and get work done, but Sammy wants to help me with all the meals, but she just makes it harder to get things done the right way. My normal perfection is out the window! What can I do to get better?”...

“During these Covid-19 times, as a working wife and mother of 2 children, I do think I’ve handled things pretty well on most fronts. My husband and I are getting along fine and we take turns managing the home-schooling efforts. I still manage the shopping and meals, but I like to cook. What I don’t seem to be doing well is the work from home piece; I can’t seem to get into a rhythm and wrap my mind around my job. I feel completely uninspired working on the couch at home. Plus, I miss laughing and kidding around with my co-workers.”...

There is no doubt that the concerns associated with COVID-19 have thrust most of us into a state of prolonged stress. When added to whatever stress we were experiencing in our individual lives prior to the pandemic, we are likely experiencing significant imbalance in our energies. But we have choices in how we address this stress, and the Five Elements model offers us informed options....

I’ve had several questions this week regarding challenges people are facing while isolating and/or practicing social distancing given the rapid spread of the coronavirus around the globe. Many of the places we usually socialize, like workplaces, schools, or restaurants, are also temporarily closed. That leaves us working at home, often surrounded by the children who aren’t going to the closed schools. How do we manage to stay productive, upbeat, and sane?...

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