What Are The Chinese 5 Elements Emotions?

ellen5elements2Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Emotions

Question: “Are there any positive emotions for the organs and meridians?”

There is no simple answer without explaining the Eastern Philosophy. I will for all intentions keep this as simple as possible.
A note: You may need further research if you are unfamiliar with Eastern Philosophy.

In TCM the beginning is Wu Chi (darkness, nothing) and then Tai Chi (light, movement). The dance between wu chi and tai chi creates yin and yang. Yin is the dark side of the mountain and yang is the light side of the mountain. They have come to be thought of in Western world as female, negative, dark, inside, solid, (yin) and male, positive, light, outside, hollow (Yang). There is no light without darkness and no darkness without light here on Earth and hence there is no yin without yang. Both yin and yang are dependent upon one another to exist. The organs may be more yin or more yang but both exist within.

The 5 Element Theory is birthed from yin and yang. Each element draws from the one before it. Each element has a yin and a yang meridian and a designated “Emotion” that is associated with organs of the same name.

Elements Meridian:

Wood Liver/Gallbladder

Fire Heart/Small Intestines


Pericardium/Triple Heater

Earth Spleen/Stomach

Metal Lung/Large Intestines

Water Kidney/Urinary

As I stated to my friend, there is no real positive and negative in the TCM philosophy. There is no good or bad. All elements and meridians support one another. If you look at just the organs as in Western medicine each of these organs depend upon another for its own existence. The seasons work and blend one into the next. The elements depend on each other for strength and balance. If one of the meridians are weak the next will be out of balance. The good news is there are treatments for imbalances.


Anger: the element is Wood, liver/gallbladder organ and meridian.
If something in the outside world brings us anger we have a choice to allow the anger to stop us or move us forward. Stifled anger can be turned inward and cause depression a DISTRUCTION OF THE SELF. Uncontrolled outward anger can be bulling Destruction of others. Anger that creates change for the “good” is anger in balance. Anger is a natural/basic emotion; it is the action of anger that makes it positive or negative. How one communicates the anger defuses anger. The liver and gallbladder can be harmed if the anger is unbalanced for an extended period.

Joy: the element is Fire, organs and meridians heart/small intestines, pericardium/triple warmer.
How can anyone have an access of joy, is a common question. Joy is a smile, a laugh, a hug. Some folks will say I am a happy person, how can that be negative. In this case I want you to think about what your body feels like when it’s joyous. Do any of these sound familiar: warm, tingly, heart beating a bit quicker, tears falling, flushed. Out of balance joy can be harmful to the physical heart and the circulatory system at large. Laughing when someone is yelling at you could be an out of balance joy. (I remember a time when my husband was so angry with me and all I could do was laugh I would say a bit out of balance at the time and it did not continue.) An overreaction of joy or an under reaction to joy can cause circulatory issues.

Pensive/worry: the element is Earth, spleen and stomach are the organs and meridians.
Words to describe pensive: thoughtful, reflective, introspective, meditative and preoccupied are just some words to describe this state. Imagine you have to talk to someone about something important and you are deciding how they will take it. Your stomach feels jittery. Or your boss calls you into the office. Now imagine feeling like this all the time. Or on the other hand there is no thought just action. I think of teenage behavior here they are not thinking they are doing. This is not true of all teens and most of us can think of one occasion this was our truth. We learn to balance because of those moments.

Grief: the element is Metal the organs are lung/large intestines. Grief a basic emotion someone dies, you lose your job, your house any lose that you did not want to happen. We cry, we learn to live without it and we move on. Think about this a child is sobbing the breath gets caught; I can remember doing this myself in losses. The unbalanced grief is not dissipating which can lead to lung and intestinal problems.

Fear: the element is Water, Kidneys and the Urinary Bladder are the organs/ meridian.
Fear like anger can stop you or propel you forward. Fight or flight. When water is free flowing the emotion passes quickly and we move on and face the fear. Fear can also be like ice and freeze us in our footsteps.

All of these emotions are natural. None of the emotions are right or wrong, positive or negative. They truly are just there. How we handle ourselves in the emotion creates the positive or negative outcome.


Categories: Acupuncture, Healing Therapies


Ellen Delaney
Ellen has been has been educating massage therapist since 1990. She also taught nurses and Sunday school before moving on to a more wholistic approach to living and teaching.
Ellen has a gift for teaching her passions are brought to her writing, art work and the class room. A love of outdoors, trees, water and flowers nature within and out.


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