Hate Crimes and Personality Types

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

Dear Toria 4 – He Complains About The Way She Does Laundry

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

Dear Toria 3 – email sent by a reader

My blog post today is an answer to similar emails sent by several readers. They wrote:

Dear Toria, I can’t my grandkids won’t be with me for Christmas. Why would their parents take them on a vacation now?

Dear Toria, I want to skip my company’s holiday party. How can I get out of it?

Dear Toria, My wife is obsessed with buying the perfect gift for her best friend. How do I convince her that gifts aren’t the point?

Dear Toria, I’d like to host my family’s holiday gathering this year. I know that I throw the best parties, but my brother thinks they’re too loud. Who’s right?

Dear Toria, My husband and I have always had a quiet, intimate New Year’s Eve celebration. But now he wants us to go to his friend’s house instead. Wait, what?

I hope that they, and you, find my answer helpful:

relationships healthy and happy throughout the holidays

Dear Readers: Each year, I receive an abundance of letters asking how they can best address issues related to the holidays. The holidays are replete with meaning and tradition, guaranteeing that fun and ceremony will co-mingle with dashed expectations and pushed buttons.

To help keep relationships healthy and happy throughout the holidays, following is my brief summary of things that matter the most to each of the Five Element personalities, and things that don’t. There are also some suggestions about how to keep the holiday season joyful for everybody.

  • Water Personalities: In the Five Elements Philosophy, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season falls within Water time, at least in the northern hemisphere. Winter is generally a time for contemplation and quiet, setting the tone for Water personalities’ lives.

Water personalities appreciate the true meaning of the holiday season. They may participate in events that they think are important, but you might still have to coax them to join. When they show up, help them feel comfortable and welcome by finding a smaller group of similar people with whom they can engage in meaningful conversation. Be gentle with Water personalities and keep in mind that if the event gets too intense, they may float off to a quieter location for a bit. Time alone is still of paramount importance to Water personalities.

  • Wood Personalities: Wood people approach planning for the holidays with zeal and zest. There make lists for gifts, set deadlines for shipping and mailing, schedule events, and so on. Woods are driven to do this to help keep the holidays from feeling too chaotic to them. In the Five Elements Philosophy, Wood is the channel between Water and Fire, or mystery and celebration. More than at most other times, Wood personalities need influence from both Water and Fire during the holidays. Business shouldn’t be an issue for them, but they’ll still need down time.

Whatever they do, if a Wood spins out, remind them that gifts and events mean less to people than the true spirit of the season. And if you want a Wood person to enjoy a holiday event that they didn’t plan, give them a role to make them comfortable and to ensure that they have a good time.

  • Fire Personalities: Having a Fire personality around guarantees liveliness and happiness. In the Five Elements Philosophy, Fire relates to summer, which is a season of abundance, merriment, and action. Winter can be a dreary time for Fires, to the chance to get together with other people and celebrate for any reason during the holidays is generally quite welcome. Parties are fun, spontaneity abounds, and everything is awesome during the holiday season for the majority of Fire personalities. If they have the opportunity to connect with other people and to be at the center of attention, they’ll usually be happy.

With that said, Fire personalities may need help setting boundaries when it comes to how many events they can participate in and keep their sanity. If you offer this help, your Fire family and friends will be able to light up the holiday season without literally burning themselves out. Fire is about transformation and inspiration, so don’t be too surprised if Fire personalities are particularly drawn to events that inspire action or have a cause.

  • Earth Personalities: Most holiday events involve gatherings with friends and family, which is important to Earth personalities. Almost every gathering includes food—especially sweets—which is akin to Earth heaven! Long-term connections are deeply important to Earth people, so their activities during the holiday season will focus on spending time with their loved ones.

Earth personalities love to give hand-made gifts, so be patient and let them express their love. But help them avoid becoming overwhelmed by reminding them that bigger does not necessarily equal better. In the Five Element Philosophy, Earth represents balance. But even Earths can overdo things.

  • Metal Personalities: During the holiday season, Metal personalities may need help to get into the holiday spirit. They may see frivolity as a waste of time. But they’re kind people who bring much wisdom to gatherings, so coax them into joining and everyone—even the Metals—will be glad that they did.

Metal holds the last elemental position, so Metals can usually manage transitioning to a new year fairly easily. But sometimes, being reminded of somebody who’s no longer with them, or ending a year, can make a Metal person sad. The best way to help Metals avoid this is to include them in holiday activities where Earths can nurture and feed them, and Fires can enchant and delight them. The Metal may protest, but holiday gatherings are generally good for them.

The bottom line is that inherent in each Five Element personality are both positives and negatives. With this knowledge, we can enjoyably interact with everybody, and deepen our relationships as we do. And that’s certainly something we can be thankful for. Happy Holidays, everybody!

Dear Toria 2 – email sent by a reader

Dear Toria,

I feel bad about admitting this, but I argue with my brother about everything. We spent most of this past year fighting about whether we should sell our parents’ house or keep it for rental income. Our mother died a couple years ago, and we recently relocated our father to an assisted living facility.

My brother and I argued about where to place our father. My brother won. We fought about what to do with the furnishings when Dad moved. My brother won. We disagreed about who should host our holiday gathering. I won, but only because I reminded him that he’s currently remodeling his house. And so on, and so on.

I’m a nurse and my brother is a doctor, so he’s always pointing out that he’s smarter than I am and he should get to tell me what to do. I’m sick and tired of all of the fighting, and of his aggressive, angry attitude towards me. I want peace in our family, so I’m actually considering completely breaking off all ties with my brother. I don’t really want to tear our family apart. The idea breaks my heart. But I don’t see a way to heal our relationship. Can you help me?

Signed: Tired in Tennessee

Here’s my answer:

Dear Tired in Tennessee,

Family dynamics are often difficult. The old adage is right: we choose friends, but we’re stuck with family. Your family has definitely been through some tough times recently, with your mother’s death, your father’s relocation, and the uncertain status of your parents’ house. Stress at these levels brings out the best and the worst in us.

facing relationship issuesYou and your brother might not ever be friends, but some understanding could help you get along civilly when you have to. The Five Elements Philosophy can help you do this.

It sounds to me like your brother is a Wood personality. Wood personalities appreciate esteem, and our society definitely admires doctors. Your brother needed a lot of perseverance to get though med school, and Wood personalities generally have the energy to overcome barriers and are successful at manifesting what they want.

It sounds to me that you’re an Earth personality. Earth personalities are generally quite compassionate and caring. They want everybody to be content, and are distressed when people fight. Nurses are probably the most compassionate and caring people on the planet, so the fact that you’re a nurse supports my opinion that you’re an Earth personality.

According to the Five Elements Philosophy, Wood controls Earth, so it feels to you like your brother is trying to win when the two of you argue. In the Five Elements Philosophy, it’s Wood’s role to be sure that Earth stays strong when faced with excessive neediness in other people. If left on their own, an Earth person will give so much of themselves to others that they’ll deplete themselves emotionally or physically. When a Wood person faces an Earth who is giving too much, the Wood will often try to control the situation in an attempt to protect the Earth. If the Earth person rejects that protection, just the presence of the Wood will feel aggressive.

Disagreements with your brother probably feel aggressive to you because Woods want to get their own way. Anybody who tries to stop Woods from getting their way will certainly feel the Wood’s rage. Interactions between you and your brother probably make you feel like he’s controlling you because that’s the default dynamic of energy between your personality types.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the two of you’re doomed to argue and disagree for the remainder of your lives. You said he agreed with you about who should host the family’s holiday gathering after you reminded him that his home was being renovated. Instead of arguing, you used logic on him, and he agreed with you. That worked in your favor because the elemental personality that controls Wood is Metal, and Metal personalities are rational and logical. The rationality and logic of Metal personalities keeps the aggressive Wood personalities under control.

So when dealing with your brother, try to stay as rational and logical as you ca. This will add to your Earth personality a Metal edge that will control your brother’s Wood personality, instead of your Earth being controlled by his Wood. The bottom line is that you may always feel that your brother’s Wood personality is a bit controlling. But if you remember this and try to act rational and logical around him, I think you’ll find it easier for the two of you to get along. He may also mellow out a bit if he feels less Earth, because he won’t feel the urge to control you. Best wishes to you!

Love, Toria

Dear Toria – email sent by a reader

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

Dear Toria,

I’ve had a difficult year in many ways. The idea of making Christmas happen in the way my family has come to expect is overwhelming. But the moment I choose to cut back on buying gifts or decorating, I feel guilty.

Besides that, even though my grown children all have children of their own, they were shocked when I told them I’m not going to bake Christmas goodies this year. Now I worry that they’re disappointed I’m not baking. I work full time and I’m caring for my own mother. So I just don’t have the joy or energy to do the holiday thing right now.

Is there a way to let my family know that I have to significantly scale back the way I do Christmas this year?

Signed: Exhausted in El Paso

Here’s my answer:

Dear El Paso:

I promise you aren’t alone in wanting to skip Christmas! I’ve heard from lots of people, mostly women, who’ve expressed a similar desire. And it’s totally understandable. Christmas has become a major commercial event that’s hyped by retailers that specialize in pressing our “it has to be perfect” buttons. For some reason, we’ve fallen for the idea that more and bigger is better, despite knowing deep down inside that isn’t true.

So why does all that hype exert such a stranglehold on us?

I think that most people who lose it around the holidays are doing it out of love. Gift giving is an expression of esteem and love, and there isn’t anything bad about that. It actually is part of our make-up according to the Five Elements Philosophy.

Sharing with others is a characteristic of Earth personalities. Earth is also the base of family, home, food, and profound,, long-term relationships. That all sounds like the holidays, right? Advertisers realized years ago that tying all those things together around the holidays creates a powerful message. Little else tugs at our hearts harder than the concept of sharing meals and gift with our loved ones during the Christmas season.

I think you, Exhausted in El Paso, are an Earth personality. You’re feeling guilt over not doing enough. You worry that your children are disappointed. You’re tired from taking care of other people. This is a classic behavior pattern for Earth personalities. Since most activities related to the holidays embody Earth-y components like family and food, Earth personalities are more likely to give in to extravagant expectations about the holidays than the other four elemental personalities are.

With that said, each of the elemental personalities has inherent vulnerabilities related to the holiday hype:

  • Wood personalities can use holiday socializing and gift giving as occasion to stand out, which is important to them. But they frequently wear themselves out in the process.
  • Fire personalities love holiday parties, because they love to have fun. But left unchecked, it’s possible for the Fires to actually burn themselves out.
  • Metal people join in the socializing and gift-giving because it’s the “right” thing to do, but these things aren’t really in their nature. Too much of those things brings controlling, dismissive aspects out of their usually kind selves.
  • Water personalities may be successful at retreating from all of the holiday hype into a quiet corner to think about the reasons for the season. If they can’t, they simply withdraw and get characterized as a Grinch or a Scrooge!
  • For people with Earth personalities like you, Exhausted in El Paso, the holidays are the biggest of all set-ups. Earth personalities tend to go overboard and often drive both themselves and their family members crazy by trying to do everything, because they think that bigger, better, and more is equal to greater love.

But there is a solution. Of course it’s related to the Five Elements. Wood energy governs extras Earth energy by stabilizing and anchoring Earth, supplying the boundaries and structure that Earth personalities frequently lack.

When Earth personalities try to do too much, they need more Wood energy. They’re aided by Woods’ visionary capacity to communicate clearly, to plan effectively, and to form and enforce boundaries no matter how soft their frazzled Earth heart becomes.

So, to answer your question: start out by assuring your family that you love them. Then, in a linear and practical Wood manner, outline for them what you feel is reasonable for you to do this holiday season, and what you need to let go of. If things on your “needs to go” list are important to your adult children, they’ll have to do those things. That is an option for you, too—Wood personalities are delegators, so you could describe what it takes to create the Christmas they love, and then divide the tasks among you all.

With help from the Five Elements Philosophy, your family should be able to focus the aspects of of the Christmas season that’s the most important: spending time together. After all, the greatest gifts we can give to anybody are our love and our time. Merry Christmas to you and to your family!

Love, Toria