Five Elements – Personality Archetypes

Five Elements – Personality Archetypes

The 5,000 year-old practice of Five Elements Chinese Medicine is applicable to more than just our physical health and wellbeing. Identifying the strongest (and weakest) elements within your personality can help you understand your inherent drives, desires, tendencies and identify your gifts and weaknesses.

Rather than used as a label, the Five Elements can serve as a tool for greater self-awareness, leading to deeper insights, wisdom and connection with others. Each of our personalities contain all Five Elements, yet one or two are likely to be stronger, more pronounced, throughout your life. This will be your Primary Element, followed by your Secondary Element. Like the Elements in nature, they are dynamic, constantly changing as we move through the different seasons and stages of life. While you may respond in some situations with a strong Elemental reaction, it will be the big picture, the overall repeating tendencies in your life that help you identify your Primary and Secondary Elements. Sometimes we have a public Element that differs from how we naturally behave in our private Element. A specific Element may increase when we’re around others with that as their Primary Element. Having interactions and strength in a variety of the Five Elements makes us diverse and well rounded.

Identifying your Primary and Secondary Elements, (and for those you interact with) can greatly increase your understanding of motives, tendencies and actions, in yourself and in others. The dynamics of our relationships can be viewed with greater compassion; celebrating our strengths, and finding understanding with our differences.



WATER – Creative Philosopher

WOOD – Determined Pioneer

FIRE – Passionate Comedian

EARTH – Nurturing Peacemaker

METAL – Refining Guru

Personality Archetypes of the Fie Elements



The nature of Water is beautiful and life giving, soft and fluid, gracefully finding its way around obstacles but persistent and powerful enough to carve the Grand Canyon or create a giant tsunami.

Your Water Personality – The Creative Philosopher

A strong Water personality contains tremendous patients, you love to slow down and appreciate the details. You prefer private, deep conversations that are sincere, meaningful and philosophical. You’re gentle, wise, intelligent beyond your years and contain strength that comes from deep within. You calmly take your time to think, speak and move through life. You can be private, introverted and find small talk boring and shallow. Extremely imaginative and creative, a visionary who loves art, poetry, music, and to ponder it for hours or take long, slow walks in the rain or on a temperate beach. Words, color, texture and music all have tremendous meaning, you can get lost in the depths of these arts. You have more important things to ponder than clothes or trends, and your desire for comfort is often shown in your casual clothes and somewhat messy but comfortable home.

Excess Water

Drowning within your water element leaves you lost within your head with a tendency to become depressed. You may feel unworthy, blamed, resentful and overwhelmed with the weight of the world. Deep water can be a dark place, where you’re unable to understand the point of life. Your depression can deepen to fear, paranoia, resentment and shame, as you often focus on the negative. Excess water can encourage a strong desire to live to eat, particularly comfort food, rich, creamy sauces and large portions.

Balancing Excess Water

A friend with a strong Fire Element can help warm up and evaporate excessive water and keep you from drowning in the deep. They can remind you of the lighter, more humorous and joyous parts of life.

Don’t let fear control your decisions. Lessen your overwhelming fear by identifying it specifically (reducing the extreme it has become in your imagination) this way, you can make it smaller and more tangible. Remind yourself of the direction you want to go and take tiny, manageable steps to move in that direction.

Deficient Water

Like stagnant water, you can have low energy, slowing down to the point of regularly being late, not showing up at all or having others do your work for you. Procrastination, lack of commitment, follow-through or incomplete projects can be a sign of stagnant or deficient water. Insecurity can stem from fear of being exposed or vulnerable and can lead to excessive privacy, secrets or pulling away from society.

Balancing Deficient Water

For stagnant water, a strong Wood can encourage you to finish a project, painting or book. Pairing with a Wood partner for work, may allow you to creatively form ideas, get the project going and the Wood Element to run with it to completion, while you begin brainstorming for the next big project.




The nature of Wood is powerful and fearless, like a seedling bursting through the soil, it’s strong and resilient, pushing its way toward the light but when taking a rigid stand it can break.


Your Wood Personality – The Determined Pioneer

A strong Wood personality contains determination like no other, strong and fearless you seek out and find a way to create change and don’t apologize for whatever gets moved from your path. With ethical kindness, you believe in equal opportunity, helping the underdog and that justice and fairness should prevail. Your generosity compels you to actions toward humanitarian causes. A born leader, you’re decisive, not easily persuaded, and enjoy debates, arguments and pushing your way to the top, knowing you’re correct. You’re powerful, confident, unrelenting and your focus to get things done is a formidable force. With no desire to slow down or waste time, you enjoy research, facts and competition, producing excellence through personal responsibility, diligence and hard work. You strive to be the best and will only enter competitions you believe you can win. You see the big picture and communicate it beautifully. Your relentless drive never gives up and cannot rest until the work is complete. Pressure doesn’t deter you, it drives you to dig deeper, push harder and grow stronger. You have more important things to argue about so you opt for tidy but low maintenance in your wardrobe and home.

Excess Wood

Anger easily gets the best of you, especially when you feel confined, filtered, unable to be independent or in control, or when it involves injustice or mistreatment of others. A hardened and bitter heart, combined with your bluntly honest opinions leaves you uncaring about other people’s feelings and using your power and control to intimidate others into your viewpoint.

Balancing Excess Wood

To sway like a tree without breaking, you must slow down; open your mind and spirit with compassion for others and the possibility of truth in opposing views. Learning to filter your thoughts before speaking and cultivating patience and mindfulness will go a long way toward deeper growth and flexibility.

Deficient Wood

Frustration and irritation come from not being productive, not moving forward or not having a project, and can lead to demanding respect from others or placing blame on them for your own personal failures.

Balancing Deficient Wood

A strong Fire can encourage you while you’re down and acknowledge your hard work, inspiring you to move forward again. A strong Water can help you recognize that most of life is out of your control and help you cope with slowing down, understanding, letting go of blame and finding success in the details.




The nature of Fire is warm, inviting, infectious and expanding; burning bright and vibrant for all to see, but like wildfire, it can move quickly and change direction without notice.

Your Fire Personality – The Passionate Comedian

A strong Fire personality loves everyone; your contagious smile, joy and laughter make you the life of the party. With lively energy, you think, eat and move quickly through life, racing off to the next fascinating adventure. You’re passionate, fearless and excited to explore the world, and connect with others who share your fast-paced, flamboyant lifestyle. Excited about life, you’re in constant motion; you love physical activity, hugs, romance, intimacy, travel and desire to take everyone with you out on the town. You inspire others to forget their troubles and enjoy your mantra of “life is a party”. There’s no time like the present, and you live in the moment more than other Elements, soaking up as much of life as you possibly can. With your positive, charismatic demeanor you don’t take life too seriously; every moment is an opportunity to celebrate, tell jokes and keep everyone loving, laughing and dancing. You talk loud and dress loud, rarely getting embarrassed. What people think of you is not your concern, your focus is on enjoying life to its fullest.

Excess Fire

Your lack of focus, discernment and your rushed decisions can be a dramatic rollercoaster ride, leading to painful consequences for you and those you’ve convinced to follow you. Your fast pace can burn life at both ends, leaving you burned out, exhausted and emotionally distressed. You live in this moment so thoroughly that it’s difficult to learn from the past or perceive the future. When stressed, you quickly see the worst-case scenario, add that to your vivid imagination and overwhelming panic easily gets the best of you.

Balancing Excess Fire

Learning Mindfulness Meditation can help sustain you throughout the day, calming your imagination and slowing your burn out pace.   Thankfully you balance out quickly by connecting with other Elements (who all run at a slower pace and can help you tremendously). Turn to a Water to slow you down, calm your emotions and make wiser choices. An Earth will help ground you, and if you’re panicked, a Wood can makes a great sounding board for your reality check.

Deficient Fire

Low energy, burned out, not feeling loved or connected to others can trigger your quick tongue to talking aimlessly with nervous laughter, interrupting and burning others with inappropriate words and comments.

Balancing Deficient Fire

Thankfully your flame is easily lit by loving words, emotional and physical attention or the energy of another Fire.




The nature of Earth is loving, generous, supportive and nurturing like the soil beneath our feet, but resistance to change brings worry and resentment.

Your Earth Personality – The Nurturing Peacemaker

A strong Earth personality is overflowing with compassion, loyalty and kindness; generously helping anyone in need. You have a heart for people, community and relationships. You enjoy working with your hands to garden, cook, bake, quilt, sew, craft or paint; and enjoy giving your hand-made gifts to others. Your empathetic, nurturing, selfless, giving and serving spirit can’t bear the thought of someone suffering. Often working behind the scenes, it warms your heart to give generously and help others. You absolutely love gathering people together over delicious food; helping everyone feel supported, included, safe, nurtured and accepted. You’re gentle and agreeable; your laid-back and go-with-the-flow personality allows you to work well with all the other Elements. Your innate peace, sensitivity and thoughtfulness allows you to remain calm in the midst of change and turbulence, having the ability to fairly honor both sides of an argument (especially between two other Elements). Dependable and grounded, your love of comfort shows in your home and clothes, through touchable fabrics that feel soft and soothing.

Excess Earth

You’re easily overwhelmed by worry and guilt; and prone to self-sacrificing, to avoid saying “no” or disappointing others. You can give and please others so much that you have nothing left (including compassion) for yourself or others. Stubborn about not asking for help, you feel like a burden. Difficulty accepting change and letting go (combined with worry) can lead to holding on to the past, stockpiling and hoarding to the point that it makes your life difficult and stressful. You’d rather bury issues than address them, leading to indecision, narcissism, worrisome thoughts repeating in your head, and not being able to move on or let go of relationships that don’t serve you.

Balancing Excess Earth

Have a Wood help you to give to yourself first, so you can continue to give to others. A strong Wood (who enjoys change) can encourage you to let go (of people and things) and help you move on in your life, better able to help others. Mindfulness Meditation can help to recognize and redirect those repeating thoughts and break them down. Take your time to make decisions so you don’t regret it and don’t overextend yourself.

Deficient Earth

When you don’t feel needed, loved, appreciated by others, or when people take you for granted or abuse your generosity, you build resentment. When you’re not taking care of yourself, you can become overly invested, intrusive or even smothering to the lives of those around you, and you resort to replacing food (sweets and starches) for the love you don’t feel from people.

Balancing Deficient Earth

A little comfort, like crafts, painting, volunteering and spending time with animals or connecting to the soil (like gardening without gloves or walking barefoot in nature) can renew and reinvigorate your Earth Element as you learn to receive and nurture yourself.




The nature of Metal is pure and refined; like a tree in winter, letting go of what it no longer needs, standing tall, confident and solitary reaching toward the enlightenment of Heaven, but can become cold and isolated.

Your Metal Personality – The Refining Guru

A strong Metal personality is extremely intelligent, orderly, focused and deeply spiritual. You have the discipline and practical ability to simplify life; extracting meaning from overwhelming details, distilling and refining them until you illuminate the most important essentials in life. Sophisticated, efficient and reverent, you prefer solitude rather than participate in shallow, unnecessary activities, chaos, arguments, drama or meaningless conversations. You’re patient, calm and self-sufficient; through honest, self-evaluation, you’re graceful and efficient at self-improvement through meditation. You are the last in the series of Five Elements, the final stage along our profound journey, when we reflect on life before moving on to eternity. Your desire for mindfulness, spiritual enlightenment and a higher consciousness leaves you unconcerned with what others think about you. You’re comfortable with change and able to cope with loss; letting go of what no longer serves you, while focusing on the positive, the good times and silver linings, constantly seeking and seeing the quality, gold nuggets in life. Wise and inspirational, you make people feel honored, uplifted and respected, helping assess, guide and direct others toward spiritual enlightenment. You’re able to see people for who they are, and see potential in everyone, recognizing a diamond in the rough, a gem among people. You selflessly give generously to charity; regularly choosing to do the right thing, even if no one agrees, notices, acknowledges or gives you credit. You want to make the world a better place and the people in it. Your natural, refined sense of style reflects in your clothes and house; high quality, practical, sparse, neat, tidy, clean and organized.

Excess Metal

Your high standards and hard work, combined with your natural ability to appear stoic, cold, detached and indifferent can leave you isolated and fighting perfectionism, so high that no one (including yourself) can achieve it. Your indifference to be social, with little physical contact and focusing so intensely on eternity, while forgetting to connect with people on Earth, can separate you from the joy and benefit of other people.

Balancing Excess Metal

Learn to acknowledge and appreciate others, their feelings and touch; accept imperfection, your own faults and the faults of others,

this can help you discover and express your own feelings, while balancing you with the joys of this life that other elements can bring.

Deficient Metal

You have an underlying grief for what you haven’t accomplished yet, and an awareness of the end of all things, the inevitability of life, leaving you filled with grief and sorrow, making it easier for you to withdraw.

Balancing Deficient Metal

Frequently check in with others, and connect with them; use mindfulness meditation to connecting with the present moment, allowing you to ground yourself to this world for as long as you’re here.


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