I am still surprised at how easily I can allow myself to be controlled by a patient even after all these years of practice. This may come from my desire to please others (my Fire wanting everybody around them to be happy), which which can lead me too quickly to do something which I don’t really want to do and which I eventually realise is not right for me to do. My Small Intestine is also always only too ready to think that the other person may be right in what they are demanding of me, and it is only after some thought that I may decide that this is not so, by which time I may well have agreed to something I eventually come to regret.
In the practice situation this may reveal itself as not being quick enough to realise that in some way I am being manipulated by a patient, something as practitioners we all know can happen when patients, who may feel uneasy about coming for treatment, try to wrench control back into their own hands. This may appear as something apparently insignificant as a patient making an extreme fuss about the heat of a tiny moxa cone or being determined not to accept a practitioner's time constraints.
This is what happened today. A new patient, very uneasy indeed from the moment he walked in the door, managed to get me to make the next appointment on a day which I had crossed out in my diary with the words, “Keep day free” written in big letters across it. It was only after he had gone that I realised what had happened, as I tried to analyse the great feeling of disempowerment which his treatment had left me with. Though I was cross at myself for allowing myself to be outmanoeuvred in this way, I had to laugh because, feeling as I did that his element was Water, it had, as usual, managed to get its own way, and I, as Fire, had, as usual, allowed myself temporarily to be extinguished by its force.
Obviously each element will offer different challenges to different practitioners, and practitioners who are not Fire may not recognise this particular challenge, but everybody should look carefully at which situations cause them the greatest stress and then try to trace this back to the element or elements in their patients which are causing this. It is also an excellent way of helping ourselves track down an element, as I found in this instance. My careful unravelling of why this patient had made me uneasy helped to strengthen my belief that I was dealing here with Water.
Now my task is to try to regain control at the next treatment, and to make sure that my Fire blazes sufficiently strongly to turn the powerful force of his Water into less threatening steam. A good lesson for me, and I hope for anybody else reading this who has found themselves struggling to remain in control in the practice room. And the moment we lose control, we also lose our ability to help.