The five elements interact with each other by 'generating" or "conquering" one an other. The metaphor of generating and conquering was intuitive and the individual character was assigned to individual element base on the statistical experience of the generations of Ancient wisdom. (For your nerds out there, do not try to match these five elements with the periodic table.) The most common way of look at the five elements are the generating cycle and conquering cycle.

The generating/nurturing cycle: In the figure below. The generating cycle is illustrated in a green 'thumb up'. The metal melts down and generates water. The water waters the wood and helps it grow. Wood burns and generates fire. The fire ends up as ash that generates earth. From the ore of the earth comes the metal.

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The conquering/controlling cycle: In the figure above, the conquering relationship is illustrated with an 'arrow'. The  water will extinguish the fire. The earth can stop the water flow. The wood grows on earth and controls the earth under its roots. The metal tools  cut and shape the wood. The fire melts all the metal.

 The relationship of the five elements becomes more complicated and intriguing when you considering the secondary effect. For example, the water will conquers the fire but it helps the wood to grow which helps the fire. Is the water good or bad for the fire? It totally depends on the amount of water relative to how much wood and how much fire you have. If you have a large fire and little wood, your fire probably will not last very long anyway. With the help of a little water, you will have more wood for lasting fire with the small price for a less flashing fire for now. On the other hand, if you do not have much fire to begin with, water is probably not a good idea, particularly when you have more than enough wood to burn. You see it is all about balance!