Chinese Five Element Personality Types


This is part of a series of blog posts by Li-Lan Hsiang Weiss L.Ac. on the practical uses of the Chinese Daoist Five Elements and how they can be used as a fun and insightful way for self-reflection.  You can experience the associations of the Five Elements through Tones for your Bones, a online and virtual series created by Li-Lan and her musician husband Alex Weiss.  
“People like quizzes to know themselves better”, this was the message a client of mine said to me recently, she is also a business coach.  I agree that when I started acupuncture school, I was fascinated by the Five Element personality types.  Which am I??  It has taken me years to embody all of the five personality types, and it’s been totally worth the journey!   Do you like to know yourself better?  Read on.

The way someone in acupuncture schools learns the Five Elements is the way a new language is taught in school:  Learn all the verbs, their conjugations, and then put the nouns with the verbs, then learn the adjectives.  Ugh, it’s tedious if you ever tried to memorize and conjugate verbs!

So my intention with Tones for your Bones was always about being able to use the Elements and embody it more easily; so when it comes to learning a new language, it’s learning how to say phrases that you can use right away.

So here is an example of the Five Elements that we know as a truth: A seed, pertaining to the element of Water, grows into a plant or tree.  The Wood from the tree provides fuel for a Fire, the ashes of Fire dissolve into the Earth which, with time and pressure, create crystals, which pertains to the Metal element.  This cycle is generative and re-generative, the cycle of birth and death happens over and over again.  This we know as true, right?

Then the Five elements personality associations are:

  • Water is the philosopher/dreamer
  • Wood is the entrepreneur / goal-orientated
  • Fire is the entertainer / “life is fun!”
  • Earth is the caretaker
  • Metal is the perfectionist
The use of the Five element personalities is that we are not only ONE of these.  The balance is that we have ALL of these in ourselves and can summon them at various times.  So the way I’ve tuned into them myself during these times since we many of us are sheltering in:
  • Water: The philosopher in me reflected on the larger context of this whole pandemic (when I wasn’t anxious)
  • Wood: The entrepreneur in me saw the opportunities that were available as an acupuncturist and teacher
  • Fire:  The fun part of me reminded myself that I nee to have some fun, that I really enjoy connecting with friends, family, and my clients, and enjoy life’s pleasures to balance out the stress
  • Earth: The caretaker in me felt super protective of the Armonia Health community, of my friends and practitioners, and also knows that I need to take care of myself
  • Metal: The perfectionist in me comes out when I’ve been creating course content (like Tones for your Bones) and when I’m rehearsing with my musician husband (professional musicians and artist are notorious perfectionists!)
Do you enjoy this way of seeing the world?  Join me for Tones for your Bones and check out our other blog posts on the Chinese Five Elements.  There is a short description of Tones for your Bones on our page Workshops with Li-Lan


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