Our natural state is health, but it is the way in which we react and adapt or don’t adapt to stress that gives rise to problems leading to chronic dis-ease. In TCM there are Five Elements: metal, wood, earth, fire and water. Most of us fall into one of these element types, based on body type, typical emotional states, food cravings, health issues, etc. Dr. Moss goes further with that and describes five adaptation types based on a person’s tendencies that can lead to maladaptive behavior. Now everyone has aspects of all of these behaviors, but each type has specific patterns that are more dominant. Each adaptation type demonstrates predictable behaviors under stress.
How do you usually react under stress? Maybe you head for the fridge for comfort food, then your digestive system rebels. Maybe you rant and rave, and then your back goes out. What about hunkering down in your room, turning off the phone, and sleeping for hours and hours. These are the maladaptive behaviors that can lead to health problems.
Once you know your type and are aware of your predictable patterns, you can learn how to minimize the impact of stressful situations so they don’t so deeply affect your health, leading to chronic emotional or physical issues. Remember, you may not always be able to control the things that stress you, but you can learn to better control how you react to them. That is the key.
So what are the five types? Obviously I can’t rewrite the book, nor would I begin to do it justice. However I can share a few basic points.
• Each adaptation type sees the world in a different way, and that affects their expectation and their perceptions of what is happening.
• Each type responds to stress differently
• Each type has its own challenge to stay in the moment
• Each type has its unique abilities that can be emphasized to help balance the maladaptive behaviors
Here are the Five Types and examples of each of the types:
It is in learning how to adapt to stress that can help you in the long run to avoid chronic diseases and issues. When you are maladapted, and don’t respond well to stress, you’re body may release elevated cortisol levels, which lead to premature aging.
If you tend to be a Wood Adaptation type and are prone to being angry, or as Dr. Moss says “me against the world”, you might be better off learning to creatively see solutions and patiently resolve differences. Keywords: Visionary (see resolutions to conflicts), Patience, and Forgiveness.
If you tend to be an Earth Adaptation Type and are prone to being worried, to obsessive thinking and stubbornness, you might be better off learning to develop community and to be of service to others.
If you tend to be a Metal Adaptation type and are prone to perfectionism, holding grudges and low self-esteem, you might be better off learning how to release hard feelings and loss, and working on self-acceptance and acceptance of “what is”.
If you tend to be a Fire Adaptation type and are prone to anxiety, mental confusion and emotional guardedness, you might be better off learning to develop optimism, maintaining calmness through meditation, prayer or nature, and being more playful—be less serious.
If you tend to be a Water Adaptation type and are prone to “making a mountain out of a molehill”, feeling overwhelmed and fearful, you might be better off learning to trust yourself and others, maintaining perspective, and recognizing that not all stressful situations are life-threatening.
Of course it goes much deeper than what I’ve presented here and Dr Moss includes some helpful exercises for each adaptation type. It is a process, but it begins with becoming aware of our habits and patterns. And I see that as a large step towards helping to reduce your risk for serious illness in the long run.