Patterns of behaviour of Wood Constitutional Factors

10. Patterns of behaviour of Wood Constitutional Factors

Chapter contents


Patterns of behaviour of a Wood CF67

The main issues for a Wood CF68

Responses to the issues68


This chapter endeavours to answer the question ‘What is a Wood CF’s behaviour like?’ or ‘How would I recognise a Wood CF?’ It describes some of the most important behavioural characteristics that are typical of Wood CFs. Behaviour can be an indicator of a patient’s diagnosis but in the end it can only be used to confirm the CF. It should always be used in conjunction with colour, sound, emotion and odour, which are the four primary methods of diagnosis. Once the CF is confirmed the patterns of behaviour may, however, support the practitioner’s diagnosis.

The origin of the behaviours was described earlier in Chapter 7. The imbalance of the Element of the CF creates instability or impairment of the associated emotion. Thus specific emotional experiences are more likely to occur to one CF as opposed to another. The behavioural traits described in this chapter are often the responses to these negative experiences. In the case of Wood the person experiences feelings of frustration and she or he is responding to this.

Patterns of behaviour of a Wood CF

The balanced Element

The healthy Wood Element enables people to have a clear vision of their own unique path in life as well as the patience to allow it to unfold. This is a natural process which allows people to realise their potential. All growth has periods of activity followed by rest periods. People with a healthy Wood Element can judge when not to move forward as well as when the time is right for change to occur. They know that there is no need to push or force change or to try impatiently to speed things up.

In order to grow and develop, a person both consciously and unconsciously makes plans and decisions. The Wood Element allows people to consider their various options as well as to ‘think through’ the outcomes that are likely to occur from instigating plans. They will then fine-tune the plan so that it suits their own needs and the needs of other people who are involved. Some plans, especially short-term plans, can take only seconds to think through. More long-term plans may take longer.

In the event of a plan not coming to fruition, a person with a healthy Wood Element can reflect on what has gone wrong and if necessary initiate an alternative plan. How people assert themselves and make plans and decisions is ‘patterned in’ at an early age.

Formative events for a Wood CF

In the same way as the first shoots sprout from an acorn, babies start to change and develop as soon as they are born. They reach out and they explore. They recognise their mother and father and they cling to their favourite objects. Young children are renowned for stating what they want but inevitably it is not possible for them to have everything. Families deal with this by having rules and structures. These include who owns toys, where to sit, who gets second helpings, when to go to bed, how siblings are treated and almost everything of importance to a child. Some behaviours are rewarded and some are punished. There may be fights and negotiation over the rules, but no one ever doubts that we operate in contexts where rules exist.

When parents enforce these rules it ensures that children learn where their boundaries are. In consequence children discover both how to assert and move forward to get what they want and how and when to yield to a situation when this is not possible. Wood CFs frequently have difficulty dealing with the frustrations that occur when they are obstructed in getting what they want. This affects their growth and development as human beings. On the other hand in a world of few rules and boundaries they may find it hard to learn to be effective and to carry their plans through to fruition.

Although it is likely that people are born with their CF, many of their experiences, especially childhood emotional ones, tend to reinforce the imbalance. Wood CFs have less ability than others to make healthy plans and decisions. They may also be unable to recognise their inner goals. As a result many Wood CFs experience that their attempts to get what they want are thwarted.

People with other CFs often have fewer difficulties dealing with these issues. Their relatively healthy Livers and Gall Bladders allow them to make good plans and decisions. This enables them to adjust well to the frustrations of life. Their anger is less dysfunctional and they experience less of a struggle when they are obstructed.

The main issues for a Wood CF

For the Wood CF certain needs remain unmet. This situation creates issues that centre on these areas:

• boundaries

• power

• being correct

• personal growth

• development.

The extent to which someone is affected in these areas varies according to the person’s physical, mental and spiritual health. Relatively healthy Wood CFs have less disturbance with these aspects of life, whilst those with greater problems end up with their personalities being more strongly influenced. Because of these issues they may consciously or unconsciously ask themselves various questions such as:

• Why can’t I have what I want?

• Why do I not have the power?

• Why can I organise some things and not others?

• Why have I been blocked or stopped in this way?

• What do I really want?

Responses to the issues

So far we have described how a weakness in the Wood Element may lead to a lesser capacity to be assertive and yield appropriately. This hinders growth and development. The issues that subsequently arise lead to a spectrum of typical ways of responding to the world. These issues affect all Wood CFs, but are not exclusive to them. If other CFs have similar patterns of behaviour it may indicate that there is a different set of issues underlying them or that their Wood Element is imbalanced but is not the CF. Noticing these responses is therefore useful but does not replace colour, sound, emotion and odour as the principal way of diagnosing the Constitutional Factor.

The behavioural patterns of a Wood CF are along a spectrum and can go between various extremes:

1 assertive and direct ––––––––––––– passive and indirect
2 seeking justice ––––––––––––– apathetic
3 rigid ––––––––––––– over-flexible
4 excessively organised ––––––––––––– disorganised
5 frustrated and defiant ––––––––––––– over-obedient and compliant

Assertive and direct – passive and indirect

When the Wood Element is imbalanced a person’s ability to grow and develop is affected. Wood CFs may either be continually asserting themselves and generating change or at the other extreme be passive and failing to create change. Sometimes a Wood CF may be overly assertive but fundamentally ineffective because of an inability to maintain a steady, focused purpose.

All people are driven to initiate change at some times but this drive is usually balanced by contentment with the status quo. This balance indicates a healthy Wood Element.

Forceful behaviour

Wood CFs are often aware that they can be very forceful people. How they use this force depends on the role they are in. If they are in a leadership role they tend to feel comfortable and often use their power in a positive and benevolent way. For example, a Wood CF who had trained in coaching skills would help people whenever she could. She said, ‘People have come to me and I’ve stepped in and helped them. I can give them a vision then show them how to back it up. I know it’s possible as my strength helps me to facilitate change and so I can impart that ability to others’.

It is often difficult for Wood CFs to be in a situation where they feel constrained. In this case one of the first things they do is check out, ‘what are the rules, structures and boundaries?’ and ‘who holds the power?’ This lets them know who tells them what to do, who can judge them and therefore who affects their welfare. This information is especially important when Wood CFs are in situations where they are not in control. Many find it easier to be the teacher than the student, the employer than the employee. The subtle boundaries defined by the practitioner in the treatment situation may also be challenged.

Sometimes being with strong Wood CFs can be a continual fight, especially if they are excessively forceful people. They may be so assertive and sure of themselves that they lose patience with others, finding it difficult to understand those who are not as assertive, organised or quick to react as they are. They do not ‘suffer fools gladly’.

Generating change

Adventurousness is a positive aspect of this drive. The progress of the human race over the millennia has been driven by this expansive, innovative and assertive energy. In some Wood CFs it may take the form of having the vision and creativity to initiate change in all manner of stuck situations.

Many Wood CFs naturally assert themselves to generate change and find it hard to stop themselves continually pushing for something new to happen. Working practices, accepted methods of doing particular tasks, observing social niceties, the conventions that most people normally abide by, are all under ‘threat’ from the Wood CF’s drive and assertion. This restless drive is, of course, largely unconscious. Once the person is thwarted, painful feelings may arise that thrust the issue into awareness.

The frustration of no change

People who have this tendency are, however, destined to struggle with feelings of frustration and exasperation. It is often not possible for a situation to be transformed in the ways they desire. A situation may be at a standstill because it is not yet the time for progress or it may be in conflict with the desires of other people. Some situations, for example, politically or in institutions, are not within the person’s power to change. Everything changes at some stage, but not necessarily when or how a person wants. Unless a person can truly accept this, frustration or feelings of resignation follow. Dissatisfaction with the limitations of life in general, and the person’s life in particular, can become chronic. In this situation the Wood CF may start blaming and complaining. Sometimes this behaviour becomes entrenched and may become a major component of the person’s conversation. Contentment is elusive.

This chronic frustration may reveal itself in the issues patients choose to bring up with their practitioners. They may grumble about world events, their job, boss, partner, children or friends. They express their frustration with less inhibition if they feel that they occupy the moral high ground over an issue or conflict. This allows them to express their frustration with less inhibition than when they doubt whether their anger is justified or appropriate.

In some cases the person suffers the constant pain of bitterness, resentment, depression and hopelessness. With no vision or plan of how to bring about changes in situations their hun becomes clouded and the qi of the Wood Element no longer flows harmoniously.

Indirectness, passivity, passive aggression

Everybody has had occasions when they were angry, but took care not to express it. Many Wood CFs continually do this. They may be cautious not to expose their anger, but feel frustrated and angry inside. They may not be aware that they are angry, only that they feel depressed, guilty, upset or tearful. Alternatively they may know that they feel angry but present as charming and pleasant, choosing to deal with a situation of conflict indirectly.


People who have not expressed their anger over a period of time usually become somewhat depressed. The anger has imploded and is stuck inside and consequently the person’s life seems hopeless and without purpose. They may have no awareness of feeling angry. It may seem too hard to change and they repress any strong desires so that they can’t feel frustrated by their lack of satisfaction. In this situation the anger has turned to passivity and they feel depressed, frustrated, uncreative and become resigned to never getting what they want.

Often Wood CFs who are trapped in this kind of depression feel better for physical activity. This is because the stagnant qi temporarily moves when they are active. Some Wood CFs find that if they exercise regularly they can stave off the depression for a period of time. If they stop being active, however, they relapse back into the depression because the underlying cause of the problem, which lies in the stagnation of the Liver and Gall Bladder, has not been dealt with.

Nov 30, 2016 | Posted by in PHYSICAL MEDICINE & REHABILITATION | Comments Off on Patterns of behaviour of Wood Constitutional Factors
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