Ask Vicki: Relationship Advice Using the Five Elements

New Boss Really Shaking Things Up

Dear Vicki: I know these are difficult times for many people, but the chaos became personal for me last month when the art gallery where I’ve worked for 20 years was sold. As an artist and homemaker, I so appreciated that the previous owner was a kind, gentle soul who ran a gallery that allowed for the joy of discovering art to steal over his patrons in a quiet way. But he retired and the new owner, Mr. Miller, is a bombastic man who thinks he needs to hit people over the head with ads, promotions, and events to increase attendance. And honestly, maybe he’s right; I have no idea if the gallery was making money before or not. But for me, it was a sweet place to work and now it’s not. The chaos Mr. Miller creates on a daily basis terrifies me and makes me want to quit. What can I do? Signed: Terrified in Tennessee

Dear Terrified: It’s always difficult where there’s a change in leadership at any level. We tend to appreciate reliability and steadiness, but by definition, change will disrupt this. Your situation at work is an excellent example. The previous owner was someone you enjoyed working with who created an environment that pleased you. Given this, and your apt description of yourself as an “artist and homemaker,” I suspect that you are a primary Water elemental personality with a strong secondary Earth. This means that quiet and comfortable will be very important to you. The Water element carries full yin energy, the energy of withdrawal, peace, and silence. The Earth element is about comfort and long-term connections. You clearly found a perfect job at the gallery and it sounds like you had 20 years of happiness there. But sadly, that’s now changed.

The new owner, Mr. Miller, sounds like a primary Wood personality. Remember that Wood people thrive on personal accomplishment. Quietness and sameness aren’t necessarily appreciated by the Wood personality, either; they are happy to shake things up to make their mark. The good news is that Wood people are also excellent planners, so there should be some degree of reasoning behind what Mr. Miller is doing. The best you can hope for is that he is a balanced Wood personality who has a reasonable plan for the gallery. This would mean that the chaos you are experiencing will subside into a more stable routine of those events he deems effective. The worst-case scenario is that he isn’t a balanced Wood person and life at the gallery will be forever changed while he owns it. Either way, you have options for making this time of transition easier for yourself, and these have to do with how you and Mr. Miller relate within the Five Elements model (see below).

First, remember that as a Water/Earth person, you relate to Mr. Miller’s primary Wood personality on both the Control Cycle (the big circle where Wood controls Earth) and the Nurturing Cycle (the big star where Water feeds Wood). Unfortunately, neither of these will be particularly pleasant for you right now. For the Earth part of your personality, the disruptions to long-standing connections and stability that his new policies are creating have literally caused an earthquake in your world. The balance you prized is gone. However, your Earth energy absolutely can rise to the occasion and eventually settle into new patterns (once you’re clear what those are). Earth people are good that way – they like to help people and be of value.

The bigger problem for you is going to be the Water part of your personality. As you mentioned, Mr. Miller’s barrage of activities has disrupted the peacefulness you cherished at the gallery. These activities also demanded more of you, and I think that’s where your primary Water energy is having the most trouble. On the Nurturing Cycle, it is your Water that feds his Wood, so this past month of “ads, promotions, and events” has likely depleted your Water. Think of what happens when a puddle of water is spread too thin. It evaporates. When a Water person is spread too thin, they can easily go into a state of deficient Water energy. And a clear indication that this has happened for you is that you say you are terrified. The Water element is where hope and optimism sit. But when Water energy is depleted, less hope allows fear to creep in.

But there is hope, and that’s the first thing you need to embrace. The best way to do that is to build back your own Water energy. Surround yourself with the color blue, wear lapis or aquamarine jewelry, put a portable fountain on your desk, drink ginseng tea, up your intake of salt a little (this can strengthen deficient Water), and increase the amount of water you drink. I promise that once your Water energy is revitalized, things won’t look as hopeless as they do now.

Next, remember that Mr. Miller’s Wood energy needs Water. He needs you! Try offering your Water ideas in ways that work for you. Not by jumping when he says jump, but by making creative suggestions or offering imaginative ideas. Imagination sits in the Water element, so you have it in spades. And while Wood people thrive on manifesting things, this is often based on manifesting the ideas of others. See if you can create more of a team approach with him so that you have input into the direction the gallery takes. Technically, as a Wood personality, your new boss should welcome your Watery creative input because as we’ve said, Wood needs Water to survive.

And if for some reason he doesn’t welcome your input, remember that the power of your full yin Water energy is in numbers. One drop of water isn’t much of a force, but a tidal wave certainly is. If there are other employees at the gallery, you might see if they feel the same way you do. If so, perhaps you can all speak to Mr. Miller together. He should be receptive – one can’t run a gallery without employees. And if he isn’t receptive, if he really is that out of balance, then you might need to face the reality that it’s time for you to take your creativity and flow on to a new job. However, I truly believe that, as a businessman, Mr. Miller will see the wisdom you and your suggestions bring.

Blessings to you!