101- Introduction

Answers to your questions about Five Archetypes

Questions about Five Archetypes from a workshop with nearly 100 dancers from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

One thing that kept me going during several weeks of quarantine was the ability to meet people online and answer questions about Five Archetypes. 

I know, that sounds, well… boring.

Believe me, for a Fire Person like me, it was not what I had in mind for the Spring of 2020. But with all the world in upheaval around us, these online connections to hundreds of people filled my life with purpose. 

Recently I had the privilege of giving a Five Archetypes workshop with nearly 100 dancers from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The beautifully, artistic, passionate, dancers inspire me and the chance to help them, maybe inspire them in their lives just a little meant the world to me.

This connection is dear to my heart. I love this community and have had the pleasure of working with them in different ways over the past couple of years. Our online gathering was pure joy in a difficult and uncertain time for all of us.

We captured many of their online questions about the Five Archetypes that didn’t get answered during the workshop so that now we can share them with you. We’ve changed their names and identifying information to maintain privacy. 

In reflecting on their questions, I recognize that the dancers share similar concerns to those of all the people I work with. I think you will find many points of interest and relevance in the answers to questions about Five Archetypes below. 

Enjoy. Read. Comment on my social media. Share it. Let’s all find ways to turn these troubled times into opportunities for great insight and personal growth together. I hope the Five Archetypes serves as a light to guide your way as it has for so many others. 

Answers to questions about Five Archetypes from Alvin Ailey Dance members

Viewer questions about Five Archetypes- Earth types reach out

Daniel: I’m Fire 63% Earth 85.5% Metal 65.7% Water 53.1% Wood 53.1% challenge: I am struggling with where to go from here, job wise, volunteer wise, grad school, etc.

A: Hi Daniel. You’re an Earth, which means relationships come first! The downside is the things you’re struggling with (decision making, jobs, etc.) are tough for someone with a high Earth score combined with a low Wood and Water score.  This combination means you can ruminate on an idea and struggle with indecision. You may wonder for some time about what to do next and not initiate the necessary steps to move forward with an idea or plan. SOLUTION:  Build upon your Water and Wood.  Start with the physical components of these types, so make sure you are exercising every day and that you’re drinking enough water and getting good sleep.  If those needs are met, practice making small, achievable plans and goals and reach them.  This wood activity will help you increase your ability to make bigger decisions with more risk.

Ruth: Earth: 78.3% Water: 73.8% Metal: 70.2% Fire: 67.5% Wood: 61.2% Challenge: I am struggling with accepting this change in terms of the future and what that could mean for finding a job, especially within my chosen career.

Hi Ruth: A second Earth Type! Awesome – there’s lots of love in Alvin Ailey with people who are committed to the team as a whole. But High Earth can sometimes over-worry and ruminate on what the future holds. The higher Water and Metal shies away from chaos and doesn’t like change. They will want to know the right and true path forward and may get stuck thinking and wondering what the future will hold. The lower Wood score means you may not easily initiate the necessary steps to move forward with an idea or plan. SOLUTION: Work on expanding your Wood and Fire.  Both Wood and Fire have more flexibility in the face of a challenge and in the face of challenging emotions.  Make sure you create a weekly plan or even a daily agenda.  Also, incorporate fun into your day.  Play games, do things that bring you joy, and spend time relaxing during the week.

Ryan: Fire:60.3%, Earth: 67.5%, Metal: 60.3%, Water: 55.8%, Wood: 54%, Challenge: I have recently transitioned to being a vegan, and grocery shopping in quarantine adds another layer of difficulty to adjusting.

A: Hi Ryan. Anyone else seeing this trend? Three Earth’s in a row. For Earth people, food, eating and digestion is the physical component of the body/mind/spirit that keeps you feeling balanced. Shopping, preparing and cooking your meals holds value that provides a certain sense of fulfillment for Earth types. Quarantine keeps you away from your social system and relationships, so all this adds up to an extra difficult time for Earth types. SOLUTION: Increase your Wood so that you begin to see obstacles as challenges to overcome instead of impediments to success.  Make sure you’re exercising and making small, achievable, actionable plans that move you closer to your goal.  Perhaps you can find an online shopping outlet where you can find your desired groceries.

Patricia: Fire: 65.7%, Earth: 81.9%, Metal: 79.2%, Water: 58.5%, Wood: 58.5% One challenge that I am facing is trying to keep myself busy during such a unique and uncertain time.

A: Earth 4 for 4. I really need to better understand this connection to a dance group… hmmn… Hi Patricia. High Earth and Metal types like to be needed by others and like to do the right thing. In the time of COVID isolation most people are learning to fend for themselves in new ways, which gives Earth folks less to do. Metal just wants to do what is right, so may get caught up in trying to figure out “what they should be doing,” rather than seeing the value in quiet, calm reflecting. SOLUTION: Your Water is low, so doing nothing will feel intolerable to you. That’s an invitation to grow your water nature. Make sure you’re hydrated and getting good sleep. Then consider making time to listen to nature sounds, slow, calming music, and take soothing baths. You may also build your water nature by journaling and reading books that you enjoy.

Ben: I am struggling to relax and let my body recover without feeling guilty

Hi Ben. Without your scores, I would suggest that you may have a low Fire score. Fire people have no qualms about relaxing! Metal people may judge themselves and feel guilty about wanting to spend time relaxing. Here’s a good point to remind readers and everyone to get their scores, free, right now, here! 

Catarina: Fire 76.5% , Earth 89.1% , Metal 72.9% , Water , 60.3% , Wood 74.7% I’m struggling with not knowing what to do next and feeling lost for the first time.

A: Another Earth… Hi Catarina, a bit of a different twist from the questions above here. Most of your scores are high, so you probably have a hard time tolerating most forms of discomfort. Even though your highest is Earth, you may likely feel the stress states of Fire, Metal and Wood as well. When we have a hard time tolerating discomfort, we adopt habits that quiet our stress instead of learning adaptive ways to build resilience in the face of the stressors. SOLUTION: Your lowest is Water. Water is the courage to pause in the face of discomfort and wait for a prudent answer to your problem to emerge.  I suggest building water skills so you can more easily feel ok not knowing the answers to problems right away.  Make sure you’re well-hydrated, getting good sleep and making time to listen to gentle music, or take soothing baths.

Jeremy: FIRE: 79.2% EARTH: 69.3% METAL: 79.2% WATER: 63.9% WOOD: 56.7% . I am often very concerned with other peoples’ perception of me.

A: Hi Jeremy!  Fire and Metal both have concerns with what others’ think of them, but for different reasons. Fire wants you to like them, to include them, to be entertained and cheered up by them. If you don’t, Fire feels anxiety around the relationship. Metal doesn’t want to make mistakes, wants to be revered as someone who gets it right and knows the best way ahead. When people don’t think that way of Metal, the Metal person can feel stress. This is pretty rare to have two scores tied for the primary element. In my first consultation we can usually figure out which is primary, which helps define your basic understanding. These are two very different elements, so understanding which is primary will help sort out these strong feelings.

Shane: Fire 65.7% Earth 82.8% Metal 79.2% Water 63.9% Wood 55.8% Not comparing myself to others, especially during quarantine.

A: We’re going to talk about Earth a lot today, it seems. Shane, Earth likes to be needed and included and has a tendency toward social anxiety and fitting in. Metal likes to be revered, so may tend to compare herself to others to make sure she’s graceful. The low Wood contributes to your discomfort. SOLUTION: Read up on Wood here to better understand this type that is low for you. A higher Wood score would lend an attitude of not caring as much what other people think and not allowing that mindset to get in your way of being the wonderful person you are!

Sherri: Fire 67.5%, Earth 64.8%, Metal 68.4%, Water 63%, Wood 55.8%. I’m struggling with maintaining a routine and find myself criticizing my lack of productivity.

A: Primary Metal types are prone to self-criticism (even though your scores are very balanced, your primary is still the thing that you’ll lean on most), holding themselves to high standards. Wood is your lowest, which can reflect difficulty moving past self judgment and criticism. SOLUTION: I suggest doing some movement each day; even walking is great. Also, set some easily accomplished goals for yourself each week, which builds Wood energy and will help quiet the self criticism.

Alan: FIRE: 54% EARTH: 65.7% METAL: 59.4% WATER: 54.9% WOOD: 61.2% Challenge: clearing my mind at night so i can fall asleep

A: Hi Alan. Primary Earth types tend to become worried and overwhelmed under stress and are specifically prone to ruminating about relationships and decisions at night while trying to fall asleep. Solution. Read up about metal here. Increasing your metal can help. Start with a simple breathing exercise to build your Metal strength and help quiet the ruminating thoughts.


Getting real with metal

Sharon: Fire: 54%, Earth: 72%, Metal: 48.6%, Water: 57.6%, Wood: 58.5%. I recently struggle with keeping up a consistent schedule.

A: Hi Sharon, see the others on the list. You can do a group Earth support session! But, your lowest score is Metal. Metal is about consistency, ritual, and orderliness. SOLUTION: Increase Metal by including some breathwork in your day and by considering a gratitude practice at the beginning or end of your day. Your Earth nurtures your Metal’s ability to support you, so make sure it is balanced. Take a look at your digestion and make sure it is strong. Consider checking in with a nutritionist, or a holistic health practitioner for a routine that’s right for you.

Pierre: Metal: 82.8% Water: 77.4% Wood: 69.3% Earth: 53.1% Fire: 48.6. I’m worried when I contemplate the uncertainty of the year to come. 

Hi Pierre. Your strong Metal and Water keep you in emotions of grief and fear when you’re not feeling secure in the world. Now is a very uncertain time for all of us. Fire is the ability to “rise from the ashes,” and recover quickly from this sadness and grief. SOLUTION: I suggest increasing your Fire nature. Start by naming your emotions once or twice a day. Just name them, don’t get attached to what they mean, or don’t mean and don’t judge yourself for having them. This exercise builds emotional flexibility which can be hard for Metal types, but will help you move past the feelings of grief and fear around uncertainty.

Elana: Fire:68.4% Earth:70.2% Metal:66.6% Water:76.5% Wood: 59.4% Challenge: I am struggling with loving myself as the dancer I am.

A: Water types tend to be really hard on themselves when they aren’t feeling their best. They may blame themselves when things around them aren’t going as planned, which can translate as not loving yourself for who you are and what you bring to the world. Your coping mechanism in the face of these thoughts and feelings is through Wood, which is your lowest. SOLUTION: I suggest increasing your Wood nature to help calm these thoughts. Setting an agenda for the day and setting medium-term goals will help you increase Wood.

James: Fire: 50.4% Earth: 62.1% Metal: 76.5% Water: 72 Wood 63.9%  Struggle with trusting others

A: Hi. Like Pierre above, your strong Metal and Water can manifest as being more skeptical of others and needing people to prove themselves over time before you can believe in them and their loyalty. Since your lowest is Fire, it is likely even more difficult for you to trust easily, since Fire is the most easily trusting archetype. SOLUTION: You can balance out this tendency by increasing your Fire nature. Find ways to increase joy and play in your life.  Consider trying laughter yoga, or making silly faces at yourself in the mirror in the morning. Seriously! It makes a difference and increases your ability to tap into your Fire energy when you have a hard time trusting others.

Belinda: Fire 63% Earth 85.5% Metal 65.7% Water 53.1% Wood 53.1% challenge: I am struggling with where to go from here, job wise, volunteer wise, grad school, etc.

A: Hi Belinda. There’s a lot of support for Earth’s in this group and notice the trend of similar struggles. Your primary Earth score is much higher than the others, which could explain the feeling of struggling to decide what to do with your life. Earth can over-worry about what to do next, because relationships tend to be the priority. Sometimes they can worry about it so much that they feel paralyzed in decision making. SOLUTION: I recommend increasing your Water and Wood to help you find footing and thus, clarity in your journey. Make sure you’re hydrated and getting good sleep. Consider building in some time for quiet reflection each day either journaling, meditating or going for a quiet walk alone to allow your thoughts to develop into new ideas without the pressure of the worry.

Rachel: Water: 65.7% Wood 64.8% Earth 63.9% Fire 63% Metal 54.9%. Challenge of Letting Go.

A: Primary Waters saturate people and ideas in which they hold an interest. And they dive deep into only a few people and experience they have invested in and trust. The other types are able to hold lots of interests in lots of things, which can be frustrating and confusing for Waters who only want to hold onto their one area of interest. SOLUTION: Your Water can be calmed by increasing your Metal skills on a regular basis. Try a breathwork practice, or a regular gratitude practice morning and night. If you feel you would like it, consider incorporating a bedtime ritual that you practice each night.

Carla: What’s a good practice to start off your morning, or day in a more positive, fulfilling way?

A: This depends upon your primary type! We can all certainly benefit from the consistency of Metal in the morning and throughout the day. However, certain of us can’t tolerate it well and need to loosely include it. Fire and Wood need to figure out how to have consistency that doesn’t feel confining or boring. Earth, Metal and Water are less frustrated by routine in their lives.

Paul: My percentages seem very low across the board in comparison to others. Does that hold any meaning?

A: Percentages that are altogether on the lower side usually reflect an even keeled temperament; someone who tends to be well-aware, can predict stressful situations, doesn’t go too deep into stress and recovers rather quickly when stress does hit. They tend not to be too risky in life and may be more prone to playing it more safe in love and at work.

Andrea: My percentages are all above 63%. Does that mean anything in terms of balance?

A: Scores that are all in the higher range usually reflect someone who may be more willing to take risks, who is passionate about what they like and passionate in their stress states. They may be caught off guard with stressful situations and go deeper into stress states as a result. 

Mika: What daily practices do you recommend to cater to each of the five types?

A: This depends upon the lowest scores as well. But you should always make sure you take care of YOU and meet your needs for safety before branching out to find balance. This would mean the following for each of the five:

  • Fire – mix it up, include variety and fun in your daily routines
  • Earth – usually prefers daily routines to be with others in a group or with friends or family
  • Metal – likes to know the right way to include routine, so do your homework and choose what you decide is best
  • Water – doesn’t like to conform to others’ structures, rules or timeframes, so include routine, but make sure you allow for some flexibility so you can practice when you are ready
  • Wood – thrives in competition, so download an app where you are competing against others, or come up with a competitive structure with your friends or family for accomplishing your practice each day

Angel: Is it strange that in this time of uncertainty Wood is the highest for me? I am actually feeling very creative, more than before. (My lowest is water).

A: According to Chinese medicine, if wood is your highest score, it has likely been and will remain so throughout your lifetime. That means that even in the challenging times of life, you will see the world through “Wood Colored Glasses.” With highest wood, you will have more drive to push through the tough situations and emotions that arise. SOLUTION: Consider why you think Wood is related to “this time of crisis.” What’s changed for you? What surprised you when you read about being a wood? Insight into yourself through this process is also the key to your relationships with others, which can be harder for a wood type. 

Jeanine: As an Earth person, I am very sensitive to others’ needs and feelings. What is the best way to practice balancing care for myself and others?

A: Earth types are natural caregivers. They actually need to be needed, so you will find yourself being quite empathetic throughout your lifetime. The best way to practice balancing taking care of your own needs with taking care of others is by practicing Metal activities. SOLUTION:  Increasing Metal will help you create healthy boundaries for yourself. There is a long list of activities in The Five Archetypes book, but consider adopting a breathwork practice and creating a meaningful ritual that you incorporate into your life.

Kara: What does it mean/evoke in someone whose Fire and Water are equal?

A: Fire and Water are polar opposites. In relationship when they balance and care for each other, they are magic! When they’re not caring for themselves, nor empathetic to each other’s needs, they have a tendency to hurt one another. When one person has high scores in both, you manifest the behaviors in your strength and stress states. For example, you have the gifts of optimism and hopefulness and also have the ability to be a great listener and problem solver. On the other hand, you also have both stress states and can feel conflicting needs under stress like wanting to be alone and not wanting to be without people. SOLUTION: I suggest making sure you nurture a strong Wood nature within you to help remain balanced.  Wood is the “bridge” between Fire and Water. This means that you will find balance between these two disparate natures within you by creating a consistent outlet for your ideas and creativity.

Heather: I am a Water person (although it’s not a drastic difference compared to my other elements, I feel like I have A LOT of water in me). But lately, I feel like there’s some wood arising from the surface. Are there times in life when we utilize another element different from our primary element? How do we deal with the shifting of elements (if there are any)?

A: The Five Archetypes system is a method for understanding ourselves in relationship to our constantly shifting circumstances. You will mostly address the world and relationships through your primary type, but some situations call upon you to use more skills from a non-primary type. For example, you may be more Earthy at Thanksgiving dinner than you are in your everyday life. You may be manifesting more Wood because Wood is how you manifest your destiny in the world when you are Water. You may be feeling inspired not to feel the fear of the unknown now and instead be looking forward to a better future.

Pierre : I barely see any score under 50. Does it have a specific meaning ? Something you actively need to work on?

A: When you have scores that are all close together in the 50s and 60s range, it generally points to how passionate your temperament is. Because we are working in a Chinese medicine model, everything has its strength and challenge side. On the strong side, people with this score breakdown tend to be pretty self-aware and regulate from stress states faster than those of us with higher scores, or a wider range between our scores. On the stress side, these folks may not always be willing to go too far outside their comfort zone and take big, passionate risks.

Anthony : Are there certain primaries that interact better with people with the same primary? Like do waters get along with waters?

A: In friendships, you may find that you gravitate toward people who are either your same, or are your nurturing natures (the ones to the left and right of your primary). They probably feel easier to get along with, like you see the world the same way. You likely approach time, intimacy, activities and initiatives in a similar or complementary way. In love relationships it gets a tad more complicated ;). We do relationship mapping to explore the subtle and overt beauty and challenges of more intimate relationships.


Go Deeper with Five Archetypes

If any of you want to dive deeper into understanding your life challenges through the Five Archetypes system, here are three ways to continue the journey:

Sign up for a private Zoom session for your own personalized Five Archetypes road map