balance Tag

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"Your blog post last week regarding the positive aspects of “control” was really interesting, but like you said, having the Earth personality as the personality you relate to on Controlling Cycle of the Five Elements model is like hitting the jackpot. The Earth people I know are usually gentle and kind. I’d love to have the, control me."...

“My mother passed away last year and the task of cleaning out her things has fallen to me. I am sorting through dozens of boxes and I have a question about my mother’s relationship with herself. I think she must have been a mix of the Water and Earth personalities. However, as she aged, she became much angrier and more frustrated, which I think is the Wood personality. Is it possible that someone can have a bad temper or other Wood traits when their primary nature isn’t Wood?”...

“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?”...

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....

“A few weeks ago, my husband James and I arranged childcare for our three children so we could enjoy a romantic dinner out. While we were holding hands in our romantic booth, my cell rang. Worried it might be the babysitter, I checked the number and saw that it was a coworker. Thinking something might be wrong, I picked up the call. This didn’t go over well with James. He said this was our personal time and I should have ignored the call once I knew it wasn’t the sitter. Who’s right?”...

Dear Vicki: Jim and I met at a holiday party last year and really hit it off. This may sound crazy, but time with him felt sort of healing to me, like he was an antidote to the craziness of the season. I’m the oldest of five kids and even though we’re all grown, since both of our parents died in an accident a few years ago I feel a responsibility to make sure that the holidays are great for everyone. Do I go overboard? Yes. Am I usually exhausted by the end of the season? Yes. But last year was different. Jim was such a calming presence. We had amazing talks about the meaning of the season and did lots of quiet things together. It felt quite nurturing. But lately, he’s driving me crazy. As the weather has warmed, I want to be busy again, but he doesn’t. And while time with him used to feel great, now it feels like he’s slowing me down, which angers and frustrates me. Was this just a holiday thing? I thought he might be “the one,” but now I’m not so sure. Signed: Confused in California Dear Confused: The holidays can be a magical time for many of us and it’s often hard to get back to the “normalness” of every day life once they are over. You are also facing the shift from the quiet yin time of winter into the building activity time of spring’s new yang. Spring make us all want to get going on projects in one way or another. How we react to these seasonal tendencies will vary depending on what our primary elements are, but we all feel these seasonal patterns. You don’t mention what elements you and Jim are, but it’s easy to make some assumptions. Your tendency to take charge of your siblings during the holidays and make sure that everyone has a wonderful time in spite of your parents being gone sounds like a Wood. They value fairness and have the energy to make things happen. They are also the elemental personality most likely to go overboard with almost anything. Jim, on the other hand, sounds like a Water. His desire to engage in quieter activities and discuss meaningful topics is absolutely Water. They are also the element most likely to feel nurturing to a Wood because Wood and Water relate on the Nurturing Cycle in the Five Elements model. Specifically, Water feeds Wood. If this is an accurate assumption, and you two do relate on the Nurturing Cycle, then what happened? Why are things so different for you now that winter has turned to spring? Actually, there’s a very simple answer. Jim’s Water energy absolutely did feed you when you first connected last winter. And it felt good to you because it’s traditionally a time you deplete yourself by going overboard for the holidays. Jim’s Water feeding you allowed you to do more and feel less wiped out. Also, his Water yin tendencies steered you...

Dear Vicki: Your last blog post about the positive aspects of control was really interesting, but like you said, having Earth as the controlling element is hitting the jackpot. Earths are gentle and kind. I’m not so lucky – I’m a primary Metal, which means Fire is my control. Too much time around Fire people is hard on me; they aren’t sweet and “guiding” like Earths. They are much harsher. How can control be a good thing when the element controlling you destroys you? Signed: Melted Metal Dear Melted Metal: You are one of several emails I received regarding last week’s blog. There is definitely a bit of control envy out there. Everyone wants Earth on their Controlling Cycle! And I do understand. As a Wood, interactions with Metals, my control element, can feel tough even when their “pruning” is well intentioned. But there is great wisdom in the Five Elements model! Think of it: A sweet Earth wouldn’t have a chance of controlling a rampaging Wood because Wood has way too much structure for an Earth to oppose. Instead, it’s Metal, the most structured of all elements, that controls the excessive Wood. But while Earth cannot control Wood, that Wood structure is perfect for helping stabilize the over-energized Earth. Landslides are impossible on a well-wooded slope. As a Metal, nothing stands up to your structure, but when you’re in a place of excessive Metal, more structure is the last thing you need. What you really need is to release some structure and the heat of Fire is the perfect way to bring flexibility to Metal. In truth, no element destroys another; they just bring balance. Fire decreases the too structured Metal and gives it flexibility. Metal prunes the over-expanded Wood to keep it from toppling. Wood anchors and prevents the Earth from sliding. And just to complete the cycle, Water prevents Fire from burning too hot and destroying itself. The brilliance of the Five Elements model is that the element controlling you is just what you need to address an over-energized state. But this is still fairly abstract, so let’s look at a few real life examples for the Controlling Cycle relationships not covered last week. We’ll start with your Controlling Cycle relationship first. Fire controlling Metal: A graduate student writing his dissertation loses himself in the process of researching and synthesizing material on his topic. He skips meals and works late every night, so risks damaging his health. But if his girlfriend is a Fire, she can cajole him into having some fun and relaxing now and then. This not only gives him a much-needed break and rest, but might even provide enough flexibility that he discovers new ways of looking at his material instead of the same old ways he has before. Metal controlling Wood: Here’s a perfect example from my life of Metal controlling Wood in a good way: Several years ago my husband and I decided to remodel our old house. I made a list of all the things that needed improving...

Dear Vicki: I understand that every element has a balanced and unbalanced way of acting. But I believe unbalanced Woods are more dangerous than the other elements. They are the "doers" of the world and can have a huge impact on the state of Peace or not Peace in any given century. This means that the consequences of their unbalanced choices regarding "means" and "ends" and what true success is can be bitter and long lasting. Because of this, I believe Woods should be more self-aware than the other elements because of their impact on the world and people around them. Am I wrong in feeling that the other elements are less harmful to themselves and the world if unaware of their imbalance? I admit that my perspective could be affected by my personal experience with unbalanced, unaware Woods, but I also observe too much of it in the world today. I would love your take on this. Thank you! Signed: Experienced with Woods Dear Experienced: These are excellent observations on your part. Of course we all want to be, and be with, people who are balanced. And that’s exactly what the brilliant Five Elements model promotes. The core of the model is the ability to maintain balance for the whole based on constant interaction among the Five Elements. If the model is allowed to “do its thing,” there would never be long-term imbalance in Wood, or in Water, Fire, Earth, or Metal. If Wood moves to a deficient state, more energy will flow to it from Water. And if Wood moves to an excess place, Metal energy will prune the Wood back to balance. That’s the way it’s supposed to work in any whole, be it person, organization, or culture. In a perfect world, we would all be familiar with this model and understand which specific “negative” behaviors indicate we are unbalanced. For Woods, cruelty in the name of success would indicate too much Wood energy, whereas an inability to get anything done would indicate too little. In either case, the path to balance would come from embracing more Metal or Water, depending on the nature of the imbalance. And in this perfect world, when we recognize these signs in ourselves (and others) we would take the appropriate action to bring ourselves (or someone else) back to balance. However, we are not living in that perfect world. Sadly, we are actually living in a time when the values of the developed world hamper the natural outworking of the Five Elements model. Let me explain. The majority of what we call the “developed” world embraces culture norms that are patriarchal. But by definition, patriarchies themselves are unbalanced. As Merriam-Webster points out, patriarchy is the control by men of a disproportionately large share of power. Men carry more yang energy that yin, which makes patriarchies more yang. Not surprisingly, patriarchies glorify the yang principles of linear logic, expansion, acquisition, and individual accomplishment. The balancing yin principles of intuitive knowing, inner retreat, sharing, and a focus...

Dear Vicki: My partner and I have quite a turbulent relationship. He is VERY Wood and can be loud, judgmental, and sure he’s always right. On the other hand, he can be the most generous, kind, and thoughtful person ever. Sometimes, even if he’s in a great mood, he gets quite loud and talks non-stop and can’t seem to calm down. He can be very overwhelming and interrupt a lot, too. I’m sure that as a Fire/Water, I have traits and habits that probably drive him crazy, but life with him can be so overwhelming. It’s especially hard when he’s in one of his judgmental moods because he doesn’t get all the facts before passing judgment. When my Fire is unbalanced, I overreact and this makes things even worse. I’ve learned that approaching him from my Water works much better. Even so, we’ve really been having a hard time lately and have talked about separating. Neither of us wants this, but after 7 years we are both feeling more than a little stressed that we just can’t get it together. Signed: A Frustrated Fire Dear Frustrated Fire: You have summarized your issues well. On the surface, it seems that the two of you should have a great relationship: His Wood relates to both your Water and Fire on the Nurturing Cycle. This means that your Water feeds his Wood, and his Wood feeds your Fire. It would be interesting to consider your partner’s secondary element to see if there is any Controlling Cycle influence in your relationship. Right now, the only controlling factor is your own Water to Fire. Is it possible that he has a secondary Metal? You don’t mention his occupation, but the fact that you find him very judgmental suggests that Metal might be strong in him. Metals are the final discerners in a cycle; they decide what matters and goes forward to the next cycle, and what is released and left behind. They are the ultimate authority on fact, too, so if your partner has a poor relationship with facts, his Metal (whether secondary or further back) is likely out of balance. His Wood will also bring an impatience for moving forward without full preparation. If he is a secondary Metal, he would have a Controlling Cycle relationship with himself just as you do – his Metal would control his Wood. His secondary Metal would also add a Controlling Cycle factor to your relationship because your Fire controls his Metal. This means that between the two of you, four of the five elements would be represented in your relationship. Significantly, the one missing is Earth, the element of relationships. And this isn’t as bad as it sounds. If neither of you have a strong Earth, you won’t miss it in the other. However, it does imply that the two of you must be pretty compatible to have stayed together for seven years without a lot of Earth, so let’s see if we can help smooth things out. You have wisely discerned that your relationship does best when you react to your partner from your...