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How to learn from your "not-self"

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

This blog will break down how you can begin to learn from your "not-self" in your Human Design.

You know when the British lady in your GPS says “re-calculating” in that condescending tone when you take a wrong turn? Your body and mind also have a special way of letting you know you've veered off track - or into your not-self. Let's dive into what all that means and how to use it to our advantage!

Your not-self is a version of you that emerges when you are operating out of your undefined (white) centers within your human design chart. Your mind loves to try to fill those centers with the energy around you, it loves to pull you towards what you're not. This energy comes from other people or the transits that day, making this energy inconsistent, amplified, and a deviation from your authentic self.

When you make decisions through your undefined centers, you are acting through energy that is inconsistent and not yours. Offering to help someone move just to prove you're a good friend then getting home and realizing you don't have time, staying in an unhealthy relationship because it's comfortable, working beyond your capacity because the rest of the office is.

This leads to conditioning, the process of being accustomed to behaving in a certain way, whether it's right for us or not. This is something we are all, always experiencing.


Quick PSA on undefined centers:

Undefined centers are not a weakness! Undefined centers are our greatest source of wisdom because they are truly the lessons we are here to learn in this lifetime. When we are aware of their conditioning we can see them as guides, wisdom, and lessons. We can learn to just notice those feelings and thoughts, and use them to bring wisdom to others. We can learn to use them for good.

Undefined centers amplify the good stuff too, especially when we're following our strategy and authority! My undefined head can become the greatest source of inspiration just by stepping out my front door. My undefined solar plexus can amplify the delicious JOY of a great party. When looking at undefined centers in your chart, be mindful that they are not good or bad - they are awareness. Okay, back to the blog...


The not-self is like peer pressure

It just want you to fit in. As a kid with an undefined solar plexus, the center in charge of emotions, I often said yes to things I didn’t really want to do in order to avoid confrontation. When I was with certain people, I’d just go along for the ride because it was easier than dealing with the emotions I might have to face in confrontation. Sometimes this got me in trouble, or it just left me feeling frustrated and burnt out because I often committed to things that weren't correct for me.

I can think of instances when I skipped a class to prove that I was cool (undefined heart), but then had to sort out how to avoid the confrontation (undefined solar plexus) of my parents when I got home. Lose-lose. If I listened to my sacral authority (my gut) I probably would have just gone to class, but my mind and my not-self made the decision instead. It left me feeling frustrated and anxious.

Mental decisions are born via the not-self and they can be easy to identify once we know what they look like. When we make not-self decisions, the body will give notice that we’ve veered off path through our not-self theme.

Your not-self theme

In all of us, not-self choices might lead to burnout, exhaustion, sickness, or pain. But each Human Design type also has their own unique not-self theme; a feeling that arises when we’ve veered off path.

Manifestors: Anger

Generators: Frustration

Manifesting Generators: Frustration/Anger

Projectors: Bitterness

Reflectors: Disappointment

If you think about that not-self theme for a moment, does a certain relationship/job/circumstance/etc come to mind? Or maybe that is just an all too familiar feeling?

Take a moment to reflect on it. Where do you feel your not-self theme in your body? What does it look like? When is it happening in your life? What happened just before it arose?

Your undefined centers & the not-self keynotes

Each of your undefined centers has a keynote related to how it shows up as your not-self. Compare your chart ( to the list below, jot down the questions that relate to your undefined (white) centers and then let them reveal themselves in your life!

  1. Head: pressure to think about other peoples questions, about things that don't matter. Am I thinking about things that don't matter?

  2. Ajna: Trying to be certain, trying to have fixed ideas. Am I pretending to be certain?

  3. Throat: Trying to be heard, to attract attention. Am I trying to attract attention/be seen/heard?

  4. G/Self: Desire for a clear direction, love, or identity. Am I seeking love/direction?

  5. Will/Heart: Trying to prove your worth. Am I doing this to prove myself?

  6. Solar Plexus: Emotional energy, taking on other peoples emotions. Am I avoiding truth or confrontation?

  7. Root: Pressure to get things done and out of the way. Am I trying to hurry to be free of pressure?

  8. Spleen: Holding onto things because they feel secure. Am I holding onto something that's no longer good for me?

  9. Sacral: Doing more than you have energy for. Do I know when enough is enough?

Once you start to bring awareness to these questions, you'll start to see the areas where you're experiencing conditioning. Don't do any mental gymnastics to figure it out (looking at you, undefined heads), just notice what comes up - this is about awareness.

How to move from not-self back to self

Through your strategy and authority, of course!

Pay attention to your not-self theme (frustration/anger/bitterness/disappointment) when it comes up, or when signs of illness, fatigue, or pain come through the body. These are notices from your body and mind that you’ve veered off path, and they are gifting you with the opportunity to realign and make a new choice that honours your needs. Bring awareness to the lesson, then take the one next step towards what feels right by following your strategy and authority!

The not-self is a key tool in understanding how we have been conditioned by the world around us – through the influence of parents, employers, religion, society, media, friends, or the transits of the planets. This is an opportunity for awareness, it is not failure. We have all been conditioned – it’s part of being alive. The power comes in realizing that you can learn from it, you can extract lessons from these parts of you and you can begin to move back to your authenticity by acting via your strategy and authority. You can also have compassion for yourself in deconditioning - it takes time, and it's never really done. But you always have the opportunity to bring yourself back to authenticity.

The more we can identify this and reconnect with our strategy and authority, the more easily we can return to the path we are meant to be on. By peeling back the layers of conditioning, we slowly unearth our authentic self. We make wiser decisions that fulfill us on every level, contributing our best self to society at large!


Human Design: The Definitive Book of Human Design, The Science of Differentiation by Linda Bunnell and Ra Uru Hu

Understanding Human Design: The New Science of Astrology: Discover Who You Really Are by Karen Curry


I'm Paula, Homeopath and Hypnotherapist. I help individuals reconnect with their body's innate wisdom so that they can support themselves as they heal and grow beyond their chronic symptoms.


To learn more, click here!


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