Are You The Water Type?

The Water Type in Chinese Five Element Theory is influenced by courage willpower and determination.

We will continue learning more about Chinese five element theory with a look at what it means when someone is governed by the Water element (not sure which element governs you? Check out THIS post)

When someone is governed by Water, they are strongly influenced by courage, willpower, and determination.


Water people love truth and introspection. This is often the most difficult element type to understand; just like water is always in a state of flow and flux, those governed by Water seem to change based on the perceptions of the observer. Think of how we experience water in our everyday lives; sometimes water is gentle and fluid like a stream, sometimes it is forceful and torrential like a raging thunderstorm. Water changes its form and appearance to suit the situation while still maintaining its substance. Similarly, those governed by Water are highly adaptable; they can go with the flow but are able to get things done. 

In Chinese medicine, Water is the element which governs willpower, intelligence, and wisdom. Those who are governed by Water tend to have very strong willpower and are naturally able to get things done by determining the best path through a situation. Water people are very self-sufficient and sensible and make good mediators, diplomats, and researchers. Water types are considered the ‘philosophers’ of the five elements; people governed by water are very introspective, seek knowledge, and often seem wise beyond their years.


Physically speaking, Water people have complexion with a bluish or purplish tint, especially under their eyes. Water types tend to have a soft round face (the ultimate ‘baby face’) and the skin is soft and lustrous. Eyes are typically large, soft, and deep set; people governed by Water are prone to under eye darkness or puffiness. Most Water types have a strong forehead and chin. Water types are prone to deep forehead wrinkles often due to expressing long-standing worry or fear.

Celebrity Water types include Bette Davis, Robert Downey Jr., and Leonardo DiCaprio


When Water people are balanced, they are strong, resilient, and determined. When in balance, Water types use their clarity and thought to discern the best path forward and their strong will to make it happen. In balance, they are adaptable, curious, and ingenious.

In balance Water types are:

  • Strong

  • Adaptable

  • Determined

  • Clear

  • Intuitive


Imbalanced Water is similar to how we experience water in our everyday lives - too much water (flooding, etc) is overwhelming; not enough water (droughts, etc) is lifeless and barren. Similarly, when Water people are imbalanced, they can feel overpowered, heavy, and experience extreme fear.

Water imbalance can also manifest as feeling withdrawn, overly passive, and anxious. Those governed by Water can become emotionally addicted to feeling protected when imbalanced; when Water is deficient, it shows up as a lack of self-sufficiency and determination with over-reliance on others. This can lead to Water types being demanding or covetous.

Water types can also become self-indulgent and lack willpower when imbalanced - i.e. not sticking to a diet or exercise plan, etc. Imbalanced water also manifests as physical concerns like edema (excess water retention), soreness in the low back, arthritis, and low libido.

Out of balance Water types are:

  • Withdrawn

  • Too passive

  • Overly reliant on others

  • Indecisive

  • Anxious and afraid


If you are governed by Water, ensure to support your adrenal system by avoiding excessive stress and not overusing stimulants (like caffeine).

Practice calming exercises such as yoga and swimming. Keeping a journal may be a useful exercise for you because it is both introspective and tranquil.

Treatments that help balance the Water element include Acupuncture to help you feel harmonized and less overwhelmed as well as herbal medicine to help balance your adrenals and keep your nervous system in check.