Ask Vicki: Relationship Advice Using the Five Elements

Her Brother-in-Law Drives Her Crazy!

Dear Vicki: I’m having trouble with my brother-in-law, Tom, and I hope you can help me understand why. He’s a loud, joking, frustrating kind of guy who is always “on,” no matter what is happening. Honestly, I don’t know how my sister stands it. Tom is never quiet and it’s absolutely exhausting to be around him. I actually enjoyed it when things were locked down due to Covid because I had limited connection with Tom. But now that things are opening up, he’s back in my life and I hate it. But my sister loves him, so I need to do something. I’ve heard it said that we respond to others based on the parts of ourselves that need work, but does this translate to our elemental personalities? I suspect Tom is a primary Fire personality, so does that mean I’m having trouble with my own Fire (although I really don’t think I’m a primary Fire personality myself)? Can you help me? Signed: Problem with Fire

Dear Problem with Fire: This is a great question and there are multiple answers. First, being around someone with an abundance of Fire in their personality will absolutely affect our own expression of Fire, even if it isn’t our primary element. That’s what often happens at parties: the fun the Fire people are having is usually contagious. Because we all have all five elements in our personality, wherever our own Fire is in our energetic makeup, it usually wakes up a little more around people with a lot of Fire. And when that happens, we can have a great deal of fun. However, for people who have trouble expressing their Fire, this can be uncomfortable. So yes, you could be having trouble expressing your own Fire energy and Tom’s outgoing Fire antics could be making that worse. But based on your description of Tom’s behavior, and your reaction to it, I suspect that’s not the real problem here.

It sounds like Tom has an excess of Fire energy and that’s what’s impacting you. As the Five Elements model tells us, too much of any element is problematic not just for the whole; each of the other four elements will also be affected. To understand why, take a look at the diagram of the Five Elements model below and let’s use Tom as an example. Too much Fire will deplete Water as it reaches across the Controlling Cycle (the big star) to manage the Fire because it is Water that puts out Fire. Too much Fire will increase Earth by dumping excess energy into it via the Nurturing Cycle (the big circle) because it is Fire that feeds Earth. Too much Fire will deplete Metal by sending too much energy across the Controlling Cycle because it is Fire that melts Metal. And too much Fire will deplete Wood by pulling too much from it via the Nurturing Cycle because it is Wood that feeds Fire.

You don’t mention what you think your elemental personality is, but your responses to Tom’s out of balance Fire energy give us several clues. That you feel exhausted around your fiery brother-in-law suggests that you are either a primary Wood or a primary Metal. This is because, as mentioned above, an out of control Fire person depletes both Wood (by burning it up) and Metal (by melting it). However, your comment that you find Tom frustrating is more of a Wood personality response than a Metal one. Upset Wood people usually get frustrated and upset Metal people usually become dismissive. You sound more frustrated and angry than dismissive. Also, Tom’s excessive Fire energy will seem to demand more and more from you, which absolutely will feel exhausting. This reaction to excessive energy on our Nurturing Cycle is probably one of the biggest problems we have in getting along with people. If we aren’t able to recognize it for what it is – a problem with energy dynamics – we end up writing someone off as unlikeable when there is always a way to improve the dynamics.

To help you with your brother-in-law, I suggest you bring up your own Water energy whenever you are around him since Water energy is what helps keep Fire energy in check. This will not only make you more comfortable around him by protecting you from his excessive Fire, it will likely actually affect his Fire energy and calm it down. To increase the expression of your Water energy, when you are going to be around Tom, wear lots of blue, use frankincense and myrrh essential oils, and wear jewelry made of lapis lazuli or aquamarine. These things all build and balance Water energy. Even better would be to have your family events near water, if you can. And if not, at least have an indoor fountain nearby. Anything you can do to add the energy of Water to gatherings with Tom will help a great deal.

And as odd as it might sound, your brother-in-law might actually enjoy you manifesting more Water energy around him – Fire people rarely get to experience the depth and inspiration of the Water element. Your ability to share some of this with him might actually create a more positive relationship between the two of you. Increasing your Water energy at family events will help your whole family, too. It can keep your brother-in-law’s Fire burning at a level that will bring comfort, connection, and fun to everyone.

Blessings to you!