Dear Readers: Today we offer yet another opportunity to better understand yourself and the people in your life. Or at least a chance to better understand your elemental personalities. As I have mentioned here numerous times, at a very deep level the energy of the Five Elements (Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal) helps shape our personalities. That’s because the energy of these five elements is stacked up in our personal energy fields and the order of this stacking determines which of the five affects us most. This dominant or primary element is called our elemental personality and the more we know about it, the more we know about ourselves. Even better, the more we know about the primary elemental personalities of the people in our lives, the better we can understand them. And best of all, because the Five Elements interact in predictable ways based on the ancient Five Elements model, we can use this model to predict the highs and the lows of every relationship we have.
This means that an important key to good relationships is the ability to determine the primary elemental personalities for ourselves and the people in our lives. And I believe that the best way to do that is to recognize yourself (and your friends and family) in basic descriptions of the elements and their behaviors. As I have suggested before, your primary personality is like being born into a secret club. All members of the Wood club will have similar tendencies, as will all members of the Metal, Water, Earth or Fire clubs. How members of these different clubs get along in relationships has been the primary focus of this blog for years, but it’s just as important, if not more so, to know yourself and what matters to you. When you do, your relationships will automatically start making sense, too.
So without further ado, here’s another up-close comparison across the five primary elemental personalities. This time we’re looking at how each of the elemental personalities relates to structure and boundaries in their lives. Trust me, you can learn a whole lot about a person based on how structured they are (or are not)!
Water Structure and Boundaries
In nature, water has no boundaries of its own. It will happily flow anywhere and take any shape offered, be it drinking glass, swimming pool, or lake. This lack of boundaries is seen in Water Club members’ tendency to be laid back types who go with the flow. They are usually happy conforming to the structure of others as long as they can still move. And truthfully, they need structure from others. In nature, the only way water provides structure is to freeze, which markedly inhibits flow. When Water personalities try to create structure this way, the lack of flow always leads to problems.
In spite of what seems like aimlessness, water will end up where it wants to go. Engorged by flooding rains, a previously calm river can overspill its banks and claim any land in its path. Water people can be the same way; you may tell them no, encourage them to give up, but they won’t. Instead, they’ll keep at it, slowly wearing down all resistance until they get their way. Persistence and tenacity come naturally to Water people.
Wood Structure and Boundaries
There is exquisite beauty to trees. Their branches reach for new heights driven by a sense of unlimited potential while their roots anchor deep into the ground guided by a sense of home, the place they belong. And the organic nature of their structure allows them to bend to withstand winds of change. This same tendency towards structure is seen in members of the Wood Club. Driven to accomplish, they depend on flexibility to maintain their all-important forward movement in the face of obstacles. When Wood personalities lose this flexibility, their stuck rigidity creates problems.
Wood people have the courage of their convictions and the capacity to hold their ground no matter what. Because of this, members of the Wood Club are often called upon to provide structure and boundaries for others. This is easy for them to do. In fact, most Woods do this without thinking. Wood people are very dependable.
Fire Structure and Boundaries
Just like water, fire has few boundaries in nature. It can jump a road, turn a bend, or take flight and burn a tree from the top down. Unlike water, which can be directed by offering a container, fire is very hard to focus or control. This lack of structure is seen in members of the Fire Club’s tendency to act spontaneously and be easily distracted. They love the excitement of constant action so much that they will actively seek it out. Fire personalities don’t appreciate anything that tries to corral them (except for an occasional Earth person). Even if it’s for their own good, structure tends to cramp their style. However, too much flaming energy will eventually burn out even the hardiest Fire person.
In spite of the fact that fire can create chaos in nature, for millennia managed fire has warmed us all. When Fire people do what it takes to remain balanced, their genuine warmth and immediate connection is a gift to all they encounter. They easily give joy and receive it back in kind.
Earth Structure and Boundaries
Earth in nature has structure, but it’s the deep structure of a moveable matrix. In this way earth is different than the other four elements. All of life, including the elements, depends on earth for their existence. Earth embraces water to give it flow and structure. Earth is the medium that anchors and nurtures wood. Earth is the hearth that helps contain and support fire. And earth feeds the minerals from her being to create metal. Earth personalities are the same way – left to their own devices, they would embrace, nurture, support, and feed the world.
Earth people are rarely quick to do anything. Their movement is usually very methodical, which can seem painfully slow to others. But once set on a direction, they stay true to course. Earth people usually have an overwhelming desire to help others and when they do, they can find themselves caught in the middle of a situation that was really not theirs to handle. However, as a substance, earth can be manipulated for prolonged structure. One of the oldest man-made building materials is mud brick. And just like bricks, if Earth people stay balanced, they can stand strong and do their job of holding us all for a very long time.
Metal Structure and Boundaries
Metal is often associated with the majestic mountains where most metals are mined. Reaching toward heaven, yet firmly grounded in the matrix of the earth, mountains are monuments of strength and endurance. The saying, “To move mountains,” is used to express the difficulty of a task for a reason: Mountains don’t usually move. This lack of flexibility translates to Metal personalities whether using a mountain as the metaphor or a steel building. Both are strong and practically permanent. This tendency is seen in Metal people regarding higher truths, morality, character, and anything else they deem of monumental importance. They have excellent boundaries and don’t budge from what they know to be true and right.
Much like Wood people, Metal people have the strength and determination to hold their boundaries. This allows them to provide structure and boundaries for others willing to function within the confines of their rules, ideals, and/or morality. Maintaining this level of honorability matters deeply to Metal people.
So, did you recognize yourself or your friends in these descriptions? Maybe even your boss? Remember, the goal is that these comparisons help provide clarity regarding your primary elemental personality and the elemental personalities of the people in your life. And remember, we have all five of these elements in our personalities, so even if you aren’t a primary Metal personality normally able to hold strong boundaries, there absolutely will be times you can visit that Metal clubhouse to find the additional structure you need. That’s what is so wonderful: We can borrow any of these beautiful ways of creating structure and boundaries from a different clubhouse whenever we want. Blessings!