Dear Readers,

Scenarios like this happen far too often: a gunman injures and murders multiple people just for being different from him. If the gunman survives, he’s often charged with a federal hate crime, defined by the FBI as a crime based on biases against something about the targeted victim, such as their race, religion, sexual orientation, and so on. Essentially, they have so much hate towards something about the victims that they take violent and deadly action.

Why? Who could do something like that?

Finding answers is a complex task. You could spend an entire lifetime attempting to come to an understanding of human personality. But for those who asked if some understanding might be gained from the Five Elements Philosophy, I’d like to offer these thoughts.

The Five Elements Philosophy categorizes people into five general personality types based on factors such as their life focus, their priorities and needs, their vulnerabilities, and so on. This philosophy also takes key relationship dynamics among the five elemental personality types into consideration. It’s these relationship dynamics that relate to hate crimes, which are rooted in how people relate to other people.

Hate Crimes and Personality TypesThe Five Elements personality types are defined by their similarities and differences across an array of traits. For those of you not familiar with them, I’ll summarize the basics.

  • Water personalities are focused on exploring philosophy and inner wisdom. When out of balance, they tend to become solitary and reclusive.
  • Wood personalities are focused on accomplishment and success in the physical world. When out of balance, they tend to become abusive and angry.
  • Fire personalities are focused on celebrating and enjoying. When out of balance, they tend to become hysterical and panicked.
  • Earth personalities are focused on relationships with friends, family, and home. When out of balance, they tend to become timid and codependent.
  • Metal personalities are focused on acquiring and sharing knowledge. When out of balance, they tend to become dismissive and erudite.

If something they highly value was threatened, each of these personality types is capable of committing a crime. But the horrific act of murdering another person would be difficult for somebody with Earth as their personality type, because Earth personalities are usually gentle, caring people. Fire personalities would also not be likely to commit a hate crime because their gregarious, upbeat personalities tend to make them friends to everyone. And a Water personality would not be likely to become violent because they tend to live most of their lives inside of their heads. The remaining two elemental personality types, Metal and Wood, would be most likely to take violent action against another person, but for significantly different reasons.

Metal personalities firmly respect the concept of right and wrong, so deeply felt righteous indignation may compel them to descend from their ivory tower to take on an offender. The type most likely to elicit such a response from a Metal personality is a Wood personality. Metal and Wood personalities relate to each other based on control—it’s Metals’ role to make sure Woods stay in line. And based on their compulsion to be right, a Metal could turn to violence if motivated strongly enough by a need to maintain control.

Wood personalities can be driven by their desire to acquire things or accomplish goals, so they may choose to take action against somebody who they perceive is standing in their way. The type most likely to elicit such a response from a Wood personality is a Metal personality. Once again, this relates to the control aspect of Metal’s role to keep Woods in line. Woods could turn to violence or commit a crime if sufficiently enraged over being stopped or held back.

There’s also another dynamic at play between Metals and Woods. Their energy flows are diametrically opposed. Wood represents energy that’s gearing up towards a maximum expression, while Metal represents energy that’s slowing down towards a minimum expression. The tension created can cause a definite disparity between Metals and Woods that could veer in an unhealthy direction. It’s not a surprise that Woods can perceive Metals as aloof and snobby, while Metals can view Woods as pushy and bombastic.

I’m certainly not suggesting that all of the world’s criminals are either Wood or Metal personalities But based on our current culture’s influence forcing possessions, acclaim, and success to have a profound effect on our sense of self, these the two elemental personalities are the ones I believe to be the most likely to veer towards the behavior we describe as hate crimes.

It’s also important to note that everyone has energies of all five elements in our personalities. Yes, that means everyone has Wood and Metal energies inside them. Even if they’re not our main elemental component, they are present and could be triggered in stressful times. Working to keep our energies balanced will ensure that we don’t unintentionally trip others up.

This simple daily exercise will help keep your personality energies balanced within yourself. First, place the tips of your thumbs on the outer corners of your eyes and rest your fingertips on your forehead. Breathe normally and stay in this position for one to two minutes. Then rest your left palm on top of your head and your right palm across your forehead. Breathe normally and stay in this position for one to two minutes more.

These times are difficult for many people. I hope everyone is able to find ways to participate in the solution, instead of adding to the problems. Blessings and peace to all.

Love, Toria

My blog post today is an answer to an email sent by a reader. She wrote:

Dear Toria,

An interaction I had with my husband yesterday left me feeling especially upset. Both of us work stressful jobs; I’m a project manager, and he’s an accountant. We’re involved in our grown children’s lives, and we’re active at our church. Basically, our weekdays are very full. Our weekends have one fun day and one chores day. For me, chores day includes doing the laundry. I even fold everything, and then leave it on our bed so each of us can put our own clothes away.

We both had a stressful week last week. So last night when my husband came to our room to put his clothes away, he condescendingly accused me that I don’t how he likes his jeans folded.

That got me really angry!

I washed and dried his damn clothes for him. Why does it matter how I fold his jeans? What’s his problem?

Signed: Washed Out in Illinois

Here’s my answer:

Dear Washed Out,

I must admit your email made me smile. Depending on our elemental personalities, doing household chores can bring out both the best and the worst in us.

Earth personalities usually like doing laundry because it lets them focus on improving something. Clean clothes definitely are an improvement! Water and Fire personalities usually only do laundry after they run out of clean clothes to wear either because they got lost in a creative project or a good book (Water personalities) or were busy with friends (Fire personalities). Wood personalities generally view chores as things that have to be done so they can get on to something else. And Metals usually do laundry on a specific day and at a certain time and take special care in how the laundry gets done, because they believe there’s a right way to do everything.

I think these traits are the cause of your laundry issues: You definitely are not a Metal personality. But you definitely married one!

The way Metal personalities approach the world matches with the mindset needed to be a successful accountant. There’s not only a right way and a wrong way to do things, there’s also a right place, a right time, a right procedure, and so on. And all of those aspects have to be honored.

In the Five Elements Philosophy, Metal personalities occupy the end position in the cycle. This allows them to gain a clear understanding of the things that work and the things that don’t. Based on this understanding, they construct the rules, the protocol, the hierarchy, and son on, regarding what they view as the optimal approach to things, whether it’s accounting, or laundry, or everything else in between. Frankly, they’re usually spot-on in their observations.

But you sound like a Wood person. It takes keen planning and organizational skills to be an effective project manager. This describes the Wood personality exactly. Details are far more important to Metals than they are to Woods. So it makes sense that while you care that the laundry gets washed, dried, and folded, you care less about just how it’s folded. But your husband, as a Metal, clearly does care how it’s folded.

How can you iron this wrinkle out?

It’s important to remember that in the Five Elements Philosophy, you and your husband relate to each other with his Metal controlling your Wood. At best, this dynamic between you feels like he’s got your back. At its worst, especially in stressful times, it feels more like he’s throwing up brick walls in your path at every turn.

Another important component of the energy dynamic between the two of you is the difference in how your personalities approach tasks. For example, Wood personalities generally won’t follow a recipe. They generally have an idea of the ingredients that go into a specific dish, and add things as their mood strikes them. However, Metals usually follow a recipes to the letter because in their view, the recipe is the utmost authority on how to achieve the optimal outcome. Metal personalities approach nearly everything in this manner, whether it’s cooking, or laundry, or accounting: There’s a right way to do the task and there’s a wrong way, and for a good reason. Who’d consider doing anything in a way any other than the “right” way? Busy Wood personalities think in that way. Wood personalities gladly would sacrifice a small amount of perfection to serve accomplishment and efficiency. But don’t worry—you can address this.

Kindly ask your husband why he cares so much how you fold his jeans. He might have a reason that’s important to him, so you may decide to honor it. If you choose not to honor it, mutually agree with him that you’ll leave his laundered jeans neatly laid out on the bed so he can fold them the way he wants to. Metals usually do have good reasons for the things they seem inflexible about. Understanding their reasons can help you find a good way to approach them.

And if you’re both under stress, you need to find effective ways to de-stress. If there’s something you enjoy doing together that reduces your stress levels, you should do that. But if not—if it means that you go jogging while he tinkers with the car—you each need to do what you know will work to lower your stress levels. The good news is that both Wood and Metal personalities appreciate structure. If you can incorporate regular stress reducers into your routines, you’ll bring your elemental personalities back into balance. The end result will be that the troubles you’re experiences will “come out in the wash” (sorry, I had to!). Best wishes to you!

Love, Toria