One of my Wood patients told me, rather aggressively, that they found my presence challenging, and, being also an acupuncturist, they attributed this to my being, they thought erroneously, of the Wood element. Although I have learnt over the years never to show that I am taken aback by personal comments from patients, I found that I reacted inside myself with quite a vehement desire to answer back sharply, and had to hold myself back from doing so. Afterwards I found that the episode had disturbed my inner equilibrium, and I tried to work out why this was.
By dint of some careful self-examination, I realised that this patient had projected on to me her own dislike of being challenged and had in effect made me angry, often the effect Wood can have when out of balance. I then analysed my feelings to see what they told me about anger in myself and how far my reaction had been unbalanced, before finally using what I learned from this as a way of understanding not only the Wood element better, but other elements within me, such as Water (my fear of the anger) and Fire (my own element’s reaction to stress). An interaction of just a few minutes therefore became, through this, a valuable lesson about the part of me which reacted to the Wood element, as well as about Wood and other elements in general.