Of course each of us will react to the presence of others in our unique way, which is essentially a function of our own element and also of how we have learnt to accommodate ourselves to the people we meet. What happens to us and the nature of our encounters with other people who have made lasting impressions upon us, whether good or bad, will also strongly affect the way we as practitioners respond to the energies of our patients. Our response to others is dictated by our own life experiences. As five element acupuncturists working all the time with the elements we may like to think that our response to the action upon us of our patients’ elements will be a balanced one, but this may not be so. We delude ourselves if we think that we can remain neutral observers at any point in our life. We are all products of our past life experiences. If, for example, we have been bullied at home, and this has given us a deep fear of anger, we may well shy away from diagnosing the anger in our patients for fear of provoking a situation which reminds us of painful times when we were young. Or if we have suffered some previous great loss, such as the death of a parent, we may find a patient’s expressions of grief too raw for us to deal with, and then do what we all do when confronted with the pain of some past experience, which is to attempt to deal with it by suppressing it and denying its existence in some situation in the practice room. This is why all practitioners have a duty to continue to work hard on their own self-development at all stages of their career so as to prevent their personal histories distorting the stories our patients tell us.
We are all unique combinations of the elements, and since there are so many different permutations of the elements within each of us, it is not surprising that it requires hard work, and, in particular, much time, for us eventually to home in on the right element. There is no hurry, because nature is kind to us and will not punish us if at first we do not diagnose the core element, the guardian element, correctly.
Treatment directed at any element which is indicating that it would benefit from some attention will therefore help, even if the element we are directing this treatment at is a subsidiary element. I like to think that the family of the elements try to help each other, as all good family members should, and in spreading good energy round the circle of the elements treatment will also include in these benefits the guardian element, perhaps without our knowing it. Doing this gives us time to hone our diagnosis more carefully until we eventually point our treatment in the right direction.