Dear Vicki: I’ve studied the Five Elements and understand that one of the elements most affects our personality. I’ve heard you and other people call that element our “primary” element. But I’ve also heard “secondary” elements mentioned. How do those affect us? I’m asking because I know I’m a Water, but I’m not really sure what my secondary is. This seems important to know because my primary and secondary have to get along with each other, right? So this is more a question about getting along with myself instead of someone else. Thank you. Signed: Wondering in Washington
Dear Wondering: You are correct! We do need to get along well with ourselves. In fact, we can’t get along well with others if we don’t get along well with ourselves. Understanding our primary element and the primary element of others is important for getting along. But it’s just as important to understand how our secondary element impacts our primary element. That’s a deep personal relationship if ever there was one and it has a significant impact on how we express ourselves alone, and with others.
As a Water, you know that Water people are usually quiet, inspired loners who shy away from parties, love to discuss deep issues, and excel at going with the flow. But this expression of Water will be modified depending on whether the Water has a secondary Wood, Fire, Earth, or Metal. To help you determine what your secondary element might be, let’s take a Water stereotype and look at how that person might be altered if they had each of the other four elements as a secondary. And remember, we only get each element once, so no one can be a Water with a Water secondary, even if you’ve meet people you swear are nothing but Water. When that happens, it’s just that their primary is very dominant over the other elements in their make up, and is probably out of balance.
Okay, to explore the possibilities, let’s use the fun Water stereotype of an inspired artist uninterested in eating or sleeping while painting a masterpiece. How will different secondaries refine that Water stereotype? Here are some possibilities:
- Waters with Wood secondaries will be more inclined to do something with their ideas. Waters with Wood secondaries will also create plans for moving forward rather than just going with the flow. The refined stereotype for a Water with a Wood secondary could be: The inspired artist uninterested in eating or sleeping while painting a masterpiece because he already has someone willing to pay top dollar for it when it’s finished.
- Waters with Fire secondaries will be more outgoing and less quiet. Waters with Fire secondaries will also attend the occasional party to connect with other Water/Fire types. The refined stereotype for a Water with a Fire secondary could be: The inspired artist uninterested in eating or sleeping while painting a masterpiece because when done, she’s going to throw a huge party to celebrate the fact that a Hollywood star has decided to purchase it.
- Waters with Earth secondaries will have a select group of close friends with whom they relate on a regular basis. Waters with Earth secondaries will be more interested in discussing family happenings rather than just philosophic issues. The refined stereotype for a Water with an Earth secondary could be: The inspired artist uninterested in eating or sleeping while painting a masterpiece because it’s a birthday gift for his mother.
- Waters with Metal secondaries will use lessons learned from history to spark their ideas. Waters with Metal secondaries will also embrace detailed information along with purely abstract concepts. The refined stereotype for a Water with a Metal secondary could be: The inspired artist uninterested in eating or sleeping while painting a masterpiece because she’s only painting it during her regular studio hours.
I hope this helps give you a sense of what your secondary might be. Then, to determine how well your primary and secondary elements will work together, just take a look at whether they relate via the Controlling or Nurturing Cycle. And remember, both cycles are important! One element feeds the other on the Nurturing Cycle, but too much of a good thing is bad. And one element keeps the other in check on the Controlling Cycle, but without that, too much of a good thing is bad. It’s always all about the balance. Blessings to you and your Water!