ELEMENTAL ~ five elements of emotional reactivity

ELEMENTAL ~ understanding the five elements of emotional reactivity



Today, let's review the five elements that power emotional reactions to further identify how we habitually react when triggered.

The five elements can be used to describe and further understand a reactive pattern we fall into after getting emotionally triggered.

  1. EARTH: the reaction is to tense up and become rigid—”This is how it is and that's that.
  2. WATER: the reaction is to disperse energy—”How can I get out of this?
  3. FIRE: the reaction is to take over the situation with your own intensity—”Don't you dare speak to me like that!” or “I want to know everything.
  4. AIR: the reaction is activity for the sake of activity—”I have to keep busy“.
  5. VOID: the reaction is bewilderment—”This can't be true! I don't know what to do.”




The following chart (provided by Ken McLeod) summarizes the reaction chain (the reactive pattern of behavior) for each of the five elements:

As you read the descriptions in this chart and recall actual situations from your life, you can explore the intensity of each of the feelings in the reaction chain and become more aware of how each pattern plays out in your live.




Using the breath as a base of attention, sit and hold the sensations of each of the five elemental emotional reactions.

All five elemental reactions operate in each of us. Usually, one or two reactions are more deeply conditioned than the others, so we resort to them most of the time. Because the reactions are internal processes, go through the various reactions slowly, feeling and experiencing what arises at each stage.




Have you noticed one of the five elements of reactivity play out more than others recently?

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