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What is the Creative Cycle? What are the Five Elements?

The creative cycle is a process that underpins all transactions and processes in life, from how projects unfold, to your menstrual cycle, to the shifting seasons within a year and changing energies of a day, to your life cycle as a womanThere are Five Phases in the Creative Cycle, which correspond to the Five Elements, which is rooted in Chinese Medicine philosophy. 

Woman's Creative Cycle & The Five Elements
Woman’s Creative Cycle & The Five Elements

The Five Elements of the Creative Cycle

The Five Elements of the Creative Cycle are Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal, and these are respectively energies that underpin all the processes unfolding and matter existing in the world. Aside from the relationships below, the Elements also correspond to colours, sounds, specific foods, cardinal directions and even emotions. Here you can find a comprehensive table of the Five Element Relationships from Chinese Medicine.

  • 💧 Water: Winter, New Moon, Midnight, menstruation, postmenopausal woman, fear, Insight and Unshakeable trust
  • 🌲 Wood: Spring, Waxing Moon, Sunrise, follicular phase, girl, anger, Agency & Creativity
  • 🔥 Fire: Summer, Full Moon, Midday, Ovulation, Woman, Anxiety, Joy and Self-confidence
  • 🌱 Earth: Transitions and late summer, golden hour, crossover days and early days of luteal phase, Mother / Middle aged woman, overthinking, Contentment & Transformation 
  • 🪞 Metal: Autumn, Waning Moon, Sunset, Luteal phase (PMS), perimenopausal woman, Grief and regret, Courage and clarity 

These are different from the Five Elements of Yoga and Ayurveda. You can read about their differences here.

How can the Five Elements and the Creative Cycle help me? 

You can reference each of these phases or the Five Elements in the Creative cycle to understand the challenges you’re facing in your career and personal life. Using this, you can also then shift from a state of imbalance or deficiency into a state of empowerment and balance. The Creative Cycle can help you in a few ways, including empowering you to: 

  • 🔎 Identify your current main obstacle(s) and how to overcome them
  • 🔎 Identify your natural strengths / preferences and your weaknesses / avoidances 
  • 🔎 Balance your emotions & avoid emotional overwhelm, especially if you have a tendency towards a specific emotion e.g. Anger, Guilt, Anxiety etc. 
  • 🔎 Improve your effectiveness and career success, as well as well-being as you evolve from a disruptive cycle into a constructive, creative cycle, to support you and your career to flourish and grow. 

Tune in to these Podcasts about the Creative Cycle:  

Aligning with your Menstrual Cycle 

By aligning your career milestones and personal life with your internal cycles (menstrual cycle) and external cycles of nature, you can save energy, time and effort and maximize outcomes, success and abundance in your life. By flowing with the cycles, work, life becomes easy. A key way to maximize your energy and effectiveness is to align your physical routine and diet according to your menstrual cycle. Read about how to align your Yoga practice to the menstrual cycle here and listen to the  podcast episodes below:

Yoga for the Menstrual Cycle

The Creative Cycle, Product Cycle and the Five Elements

The Disruptive Cycle: 

More broadly, every obstacle or barrier we’re facing can be associated with an action we are or are not doing. And driving each of these maladaptive behaviors are self-limiting beliefs. Here are the behaviors and self-limiting beliefs within the Disruptive cycle: 

The Disruptive Cycle behaviours

  • 💧 Feeling stuck / uninspired / Avoidance (Water) due to Fear of failure 
  • 🌲 Lack of clarity / procrastination or rushing before things are ready (Wood) due to Anger / Stress  
  • 🔥 Playing small / Shying away from visibility (Fire) due to Anxiety from imposter syndrome 
  • 🌱 Hiding yourself, your work / Over-thinking / People-pleasing / Over-giving (Earth) due to Over-Worrying from low self-esteem
  • 🪞 Being Overly Self-Critical (Metal) due to Regret from perfectionism 

If you notice you have a tendency towards one or more of these emotions, this blog post may help you.

The Constructive Creative Cycle 

By working through these obstacles, you can shift to align constructive Creative Cycle and the corresponding growth-oriented behaviors:

The Creative Cycle behaviours

  • 💧 Surrendering to stillness to receive inspiration and intuition (Water) through Trust and Resilience 
  • 🌲 Seeing a clear vision for inspired & imperfect action (Wood) through Creativity and Flexibility 
  • 🔥 Stepping into and owning your True Power (Fire) through Self-confidence and Self-Love
  • 🌱 Resourcing and Rejoicing yourself and your growth (Earth) through Gratitude and Self-Acceptance   
  • 🪞 Constructively improving yourself and your business (Metal) through Courage and Clarity 

Furthermore, you can align with the strengths and values of the Creative Cycle to improve your relationship to yourself, your career, creative projects, and relationships with others and the world:

The Creative Cycle Strengths and Qualities

Are you looking for 1-on-1 support to boost your productivity and get into creative flow?

Through coaching with me, we use the Creative Cycle framework to identify your current maladaptive behaviors, uncover and release your self-limiting beliefs to improve your self-confidence, efficiency and career success and well-being.

Are you looking for support to manage mental or emotional overwhelm? 

Through coaching with me, we identify the triggers underlying situations causing your experience of overwhelm. You’ll learn effective and simple tools to dissolve overwhelm, and long-term strategies for preventing overwhelm.

Find out more about coaching with me here.

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Hi! I’m Wenlin Tan, a Productivity, Accountability & Mindfulness Coach with clients across Asia, Europe and the USA. I am passionate about supporting you to overcome self-doubt, procrastination and inner critic attacks to achieve your goals and live the dream of your dreams. If you want to learn how to overcome overwhelm and achieve your goals with ease, I’m here to help.

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