Ask Vicki: Relationship Advice Using the Five Elements

She’s Having Trouble with the World Right Now

Dear Vicki: Since things started opening back up after the pandemic, I don’t really like the world out there. I’m an artist who is on one of the lucky ones – I’ve been able to manifest a successful career by hustling to sell my work. I’m proud of my accomplishments and honestly, it wasn’t too hard to stay home the past year. But now that I’m out and about, things feel so harsh. Everywhere I go, I encounter controlling, pushy people telling me what I have to do or even how I should think or act. The world is meant to be easy going, peaceful, and maybe even full of people pulling together. That’s what all the elements want, isn’t it? But that sure isn’t happening. I’m exhausted, and there are days I either want to hide under the covers or scream at people out of frustration. What’s wrong with me? And can I please change the world around me? Signed: Angry in Arlington


Dear Angry in Arlington: I love your statement that the Five Elements model wants everyone to pull together and get along. That is wonderful, and true! But remember, pulling together and getting along might not always look easy going, peaceful, and loving to everyone. It depends on the elemental filters through which we view the actions of others. In fact, what looks to you like controlling or pushy might be seen as an act of “tough love” or “making things happen” to someone else. And what seems easy going and peaceful to you might seem directionless to someone else. It all depends on our elemental personality, the elemental personality of the people with whom we relate, and how these two personalities relate via the Five Elements model.

Within the Five Elements model there are three possible kinds of relationships: We can relate via the Nurturing Cycle (the big circle in the model below), via the Controlling Cycle (the big start in the model), or with someone who is the same element as we are. The model uses both the Nurturing Cycle and the Controlling Cycle to keep the whole balanced and healthy.

Nurturing Cycle relationships often do feel nurturing, as well as easy going, peaceful, and loving. On the other hand, Controlling Cycle relationships likely won’t feel very nurturing much of the time, even though there can be just as much love in these relationships. Controlling Cycle love often looks and feels more like tough love, and as the name implies, these relationships can feel controlling at times. Finally, what it feels like relating to someone who has the same primary elemental personality as you do will depend on what elemental personality you both have. Relationships between two Earth personalities will be very different from relationships between two Wood or two Fire personalities. All that said, let’s take a look at what might be going on for you and your best friend, the world.

First, as a successful artist, it seems likely that you are a primary Water personality. Water people like things to be easy going. They also like to be left alone to create, so won’t mind lockdowns or quarantines too much. What they aren’t that great at is hustling and selling; this is usually the domain of the primary Wood personality. The fact that you are successfully selling your work, are proud of your accomplishments, and are frustrated at the world (rather than sad, sympathetic, disgusted, etc.) suggest that you have a secondary Wood personality.

As far as the world is concerned, actions that seem aggressive, controlling, or bullying are usually ascribed to out of balance Wood or Metal people. These are the two most structured personalities, and also quite frequently the most opinionated. Especially the Metal personality which, sitting at the end of the Five Elements cycle, almost always has an opinion regarding what works and what does not. Metal personalities also love rules and regulations. And while each of the other four elemental personalities has their own response to too much of this, the elemental personality most affected by too much Metal energy is the Wood personality. Metal and Wood relate via the Controlling Cycle, which means that the Metal personality quite literally feels it is their job to keep Wood people in check. And there isn’t a Wood personality on the planet who likes being controlled.

Because of this, Wood people are the ones most likely to see too much Metal energy as aggressive, controlling, and bullying. They are also likely to respond to this sense of being controlled by increasing their Wood energy to stand “against” what they feel is controlling them, be that regulations, a demand for propriety, or even just a suggestion of the “right” way to do something. Given that you feel resentful of the controls and perceive them as “bullying,” I suspect that it’s the Wood part of your personality that’s reacting here. The Water personality usually just flows around structure that gets in their way, or retreats to their alone place and does what they do best. In your case, that would be paint. Bottom line: I believe you are reacting the way you are because of the structure and rules you are bumping up against, this suggests you have an excess of Wood energy in your personality right now.

To answer your last two questions, I think what is “wrong” with you is that because you have too much Wood energy right now, you have depleted your Earth energy (Wood relates to Earth via the Controlling Cycle in the Five Elements model). Wanting a world that is “peaceful, loving, and full of people pulling together” is a very Earth desire. Usually, Earth energy sees the best in everyone and would not easily label people as “controlling” or “pushy.” But in your case, I suspect your excess Wood energy has over-controlled your Earth energy to the point that it’s not only unable to see the good in people, it’s also unable to feel compassion and charity for others. This is the perspective that I believe you are missing these days, and to regain it, you will need to rebuild your Earth energy.

There are many easy ways to build Earth energy. The weather is nicer now, so get out in nature (but avoid cool dampness; this isn’t good for Earth energy). Time spent in a garden, on a nature walk, or even just sitting in the grass will help build Earth energy. Other ways to build Earth energy is to wear tiger’s eye or citrine jewelry (making sure that the stone touches your skin), drinking lemon balm tea, or surrounding yourself with the Earth element colors of yellow, orange, and/or brown. Finally, several times a day, gently place your thumbs on your cheekbones directly below your eyes and rest your fingers across your forehead. Relax and hold this position for 2 to 3 minutes. This will help bring Earth energy back to balance in no time.

In closing, you asked if you can you change the world around you. Yes, you absolutely can! We all can. And the best way to start is by changing and balancing ourselves. Bless you for your desire to make this world a better place. May we all follow your lead.