With the Five Elements, Control Can Be Good

Dear Vicki: I’m familiar with the Five Elements model and how the elements keep each other in balance by either giving energy or taking it away. And in the model, that makes sense. But when that gets applied to people, I don’t understand how controlling someone can be good. My husband is an Earth and I’m a Water, so this means his Earth controls my Water. But I can tell you from personal experience, things don’t feel that good sometimes. Can you please give some real life examples of Water/Earth Controlling Cycle relationships that are positive? Thank you. Signed: Confused About Control

Dear Confused: This is an excellent question! Most people have a negative reaction to the idea of being controlled and that’s certainly come up in several of these blog posts over the years. Cutting something back doesn’t seem good because in our Western culture we often live by the maxim, “Bigger is better!” But in the East, where the Five Elements model originated thousands of years ago, a condition of too much is just as bad as a condition of too little. Said another way, inherent in the Five Elements model is the truth that bigger is usually not better. Instead, when there is too much of any element, it is necessary and good for the whole to reduce that element to help retain balance. And in the abstraction of the model, the element is happy to be reduced so that the whole can remain balanced.

When applying this to people, we usually don’t like being reduced, especially in the West with our “more is always better than less” approach to life. But still, when we are stressed, there are times that someone stepping in to guide, protect, cool down, relax, or counterbalance us is good. And these are all aspects of what one element can do for another in a Controlling Cycle relationship.

So let’s look at some real life examples of positive interventions in an Earth/Water relationship and I think this will make more sense. To do this, we’ll need to remember three things: 1) Earth acts to reduce Water energy only when there’s too much; 2) Water personalities connect with something greater than themselves as a path to connect with themselves; and 3) Time alone to ponder great truths and mysteries reinforces a Water’s sense of self.

Under stress, Water’s need to connect with their inner self can distort and manifest as either too great a sense of self (narcissism) or too little a sense of self (low self esteem). And if it’s too great a sense of self, that’s when Earth steps in to guide Waters back to a place of balance. Really, in the world of Controlling Cycle relationships, you Waters hit the jackpot with Earths because they always do things in a nice way (as long as they’re balanced themselves). That’s because they love helping people.

In nature, all bodies of water have earth surrounding them; it is the natural container to help water stay in place. In human relationships, Earths can gently encourage the over abundant Water back to balance. Here are some examples:

  • When a Water child is upset about sharing a toy, the Earth mother gently reminds her that other people matter, too. The dynamic here is that children are by nature a bit narcissistic (over abundant Water) and moms naturally care that everyone is happy (Earth).
  • When a Water husband believes he can teach during the day, take two important night classes each week, give free art lessons at the YMCA on Saturday, attend church on Sunday, and still be a good dad, his Earth wife helps him establish guidelines before he spreads himself too thin and wears out. Here, the husband trying to do too many Watery things benefits from the guidance of the Earth who wants to protect him.
  • When a stressed Water brother loses his normal go with the flow attitude and becomes too demanding while training his dog, his Earth sister steps in and takes over training the dog. Here, when the overwhelmed Water becomes unreasonable, the Earth removes a chore from him to help alleviate his stress and protect his dog
  • When a Water gets carried away and adds more and more detail to a mural making it impossible for her to finish the project on time, an Earth friend helps her pare back the project’s scope. Here, the artist diving deep into the Watery realm of inspiration benefits from her Earth friend reminding her of the original assignment.
  • When a well-intended Water manager agrees to take on a colleague’s division while they are on maternity leave, then becomes uncharacteristically condescending, his secretary brings his behavior to his attention and suggests ways to share some of the work with other managers. Here, the manager trying to do something for the greater good of the company took on too much. His secretary helps him find ways to decrease the load and lessen his stress.

I hope these few examples help you see the very beneficial ways that a balanced Earth can interact with a stressed Water and make a positive difference. In spite of the harsh sound of the word “control,” when someone on our Controlling Cycle takes the time to interact with us when we’re stressed, it is usually a deeply profound gift. For you, your Earth husband may often provide the guidance that helps you express the beauty of your Water. Blessings to you!

crater lake


2 thoughts on “With the Five Elements, Control Can Be Good

  1. Thank you, Dilys! And yes, it will be a challenge if both Earth and Water are out of balance. That’s why it’s so important for our relationships that we each take responsibility for keeping ourselves in balance, right?

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