If you’ve been in the world of Human Design for more than a minute, you’ve likely heard about deconditioning. It’s a term that people throw around a lot. But there is often very little solid information about what it really means or how to actually do it.
It breaks my heart that there isn’t more practical information about deconditioning. The real magic of Human Design happens from deconditioning. It doesn’t happen just by knowing your design or understanding, logically, your strategy and authority.
(You can run your chart on Genetic Matrix.)
The Human Design chart holds infinite potential for healing emotional and spiritual wounds. But only when we know how to harness that potential with practical skills and tools.
So, in this post, it is my aim to clear confusion about deconditioning and offer some practical insights.
But first, a little disclaimer:
I am a fifth-line mystic at heart. Everything is a portal into Truth and wisdom in my world. To me, science has as much wisdom as ancient spiritual texts. This is especially true when we can find the golden threads that connect them together in practical ways.
My writing typically leans more on the spiritual or magickal side of things. But, this post draws more from the science side of things. In this case, science has absolutely caught up with what the mystics and alchemists have known for centuries.
But, to be clear, I am not a scientist. My intent is for you to understand the essence of how this works; this post is NOT a technical dissertation on the brain.
AND it isn’t really in line with the way that “traditional” human design thinks about deconditioning. But, truth is, I bring decades of experience in energy healing, coaching, and magick. Using them in my approach to HD – with myself and others – has been insanely healing. And, well, that is why I’m here – not to play by the rules.
So, with that, let’s dig in.
What is deconditioning?
The concept of deconditioning isn’t new and it didn’t begin with Human Design.
When you hear people talk about…
- rewiring their brains
- changing habits
- most therapy,
They are talking about what human design calls deconditioning.
There are gazillions of methods of deconditioning. But, in essence…
Deconditioning is the conscious process of changing our thoughts (values, beliefs, morals), emotions, and behaviors to be more aligned with who we really are.
For example, let’s say that a Generator learns that its strategy is to wait to respond. Which, in essence, means allowing life to come to them and saying YES to the things they love to do.
(Want a deep dive into your strategy? Check out the Human Design Map.)
But what happens when that Generator currently believes that life is a struggle? Or that you just have to keep your head down and work?
That belief IS conditioning; it’s a thought, not a “fact” of life.
And when that Generator tries to focus on what they LOVE doing, they are going to face internal challenges.
To truly honor their strategy, they must go through a conscious process to make new choices.
And all of that is happening in the brain and nervous system.
Deconditioning and the brain
Neuroscience shows us that our brain is an incredibly complex habit machine.
Our consistent patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving become neural pathways in the brain. Neural Pathways are just a fancy scientific term for unconscious processes and habits.
The more we do a thing, the deeper the neural pathways. The deeper the neural pathway, the less energy it takes to do that thing. And preserving energy is an incredibly important aspect of our evolution as humans.
Imagine if you had to consciously think about how to beat your heart, walk, or brush your teeth. There would be little energy to do much else.
Neuropathways are actually super helpful! They make it possible to focus on doing amazing shit in the world!
The problem is when we think we should be able to “just” stop something we’ve been doing forever.
When it seems like you are on autopilot and “can’t stop” doing something, it isn’t a personal failure. It’s because you are a human being with a perfectly functioning human brain.
Your neural pathways are working perfectly. Once your brain learns how to do something, it just does it automatically.
Think about making your favorite meal or driving to your childhood home. Your brain just knows the way, and you are free to think about other things.
If we want to change these patterns (aka decondition), we have to use the power of our prefrontal cortex. We use it to begin making new, conscious choices. We have to think about our thoughts, motivations, and behavior…on purpose.
And the good news is that our brains are able to change!
The brain is like plastic
I’m obsessed with habit change and have been for as long as I can remember.
I have the channel of awareness (61-24) defined in my chart.
And to say that I’ve struggled with addiction would be a massive fucking understatement. I often joke that I’ve lived multiple lifetimes in this one life.
I’ve overcome binge eating, exercise bulimia, drinking, drugs, love addiction, overworking, and people-pleasing to name a few!
And here is what I know FOR SURE about deconditioning and our brains:
Our brains can absolutely change. I’m living proof of that.
In science terms, the capacity for our brains to change is called neuroplasticity.
For most of human history, people believed that changing our brains was impossible. But what we know now is that our brains have the ability to mold, shape, and change (like plastic). And that the brain has the capacity to change until we take our last breath.
But, doing so takes conscious effort and more importantly, persistence.
You can develop the skills to change your brain; I am going to get into those in just a moment. But first, I must rant…
A rant about Human Design culture and “the mind”
You don’t have to go very far to find people projecting some bullshit about the mind. Especially in the world of Human Design.
And, I understand where their distaste for the mind comes from.
Ra Uru Hu, the original channeler of the Human Design system was adamant that the mind was a problem. He perpetuated an outdated spiritual belief that the mind was to be transcended.
But, um, as with all things, those are simply Ra’s thoughts. They aren’t actual facts.
And, trust me, I get it. I’ve often made my mind the enemy as well.
When we are unaware of how the brain works, it can absolutely feel like our mind is a problem.
When our brain develops patterns of people-pleasing, we do have a tendency to go against inner wisdom.
And, I do agree with Ra that trusting our inner wisdom is the secret sauce to life.
Ultimately, there are no wrong decisions. Right or wrong are just thoughts that come from YOUR MIND. They are subjective constructs, not objective truths.
But, more importantly than that…
You literally cannot make changes in your life without your mind’s involvement.
Making your mind the enemy will just hinder the process. It is more useful to learn how to work with your mind. You can align your mind with what your inner wisdom is directing you to.
You cannot follow your strategy and authority without using your MIND.
Your brain and nervous system (aka your mind) are the “control tower” where those choices are happening.
We cannot bypass having a brain and nervous system. Instead, we are evolving how we use our brain and mind. We are learning how to use conscious intent instead of the default reptilian brain.
So, with that, let’s get down to the brass tacks. Here are the 10 skills that are essential for deconditioning and human design:
10 essential skills for human design deconditioning
There are 10 essential skills we need in order to make conscious changes in our lives. Whether it’s learning to follow your strategy and authority or stopping binge eating — the internal process is the same.
I give you step-by-step guidance on how and when to use these skills in the Deconditioning Toolbox. (It is included when you purchase your Human Design Map). But for now, the 10 skills are:
Human Design Deconditioning Skill #1: Be crystal clear about the change you want.
In the deconditioning toolbox, I call this step intention setting. It’s about being really clear about what you want to create in your life.
A generator might set an intention to discover what they really love doing. A projector might set an intention to wait for the invitation.
Either way, it’s about knowing what you want your brain to do for you.
With that intent, your brain starts looking at how to make it happen. You start seeing the ways that it isn’t happening.
From a magickal perspective, this clear kind of intention sets alchemy into motion.
A generator might discover that they have something they already love doing. But, when the time comes to do that thing, they do something they consider “productive” instead.
Or a projector might realize that they are wasting their precious energy by giving unsolicited advice.
This is where the next skill comes in.
Human Design Deconditioning Skill #2: Pause instead of acting out old ways.
With our well-worn neuropathways, the old ways of being are on autopilot.
That generator is going to automatically do the “productive” thing. And the projector is going to give unsolicited advice.
So, they both have to develop the skill of pausing when they notice the URGE to do the old thing. They have to learn how to be present with the urge instead of following through with it.
And that is where the third skill comes in.
Human Design Deconditioning Skill #3: Process the emotions that come up when you don’t act on urges.
We are emotional beings (yes, even those of us with an undefined solar plexus). There will be feelings when we stop doing things we’ve always done.
And those feelings are a gateway into the deeper levels of conditioning that are driving our behaviors.
So, the generator might feel frustrated or the projector might feel bitter.
But, as with all emotions, there is a deep wisdom inside of them. And the only way to access those emotions is to fully feel them.
Feeling your feelings is 100% different than analyzing, acting out, or talking about them. It’s literally getting into your body and feeling what it feels like to feel frustrated and bitter.
I offer step-by-step guidance on this in the deconditioning toolbox (it’s included in the Human Design Map).
But the essence is this:
You notice the sensations in your body. Maybe “frustrated” feels tight in your jaw or “bitter” feels metallic in your mouth.
It’s noticing those sensations that unlock the wisdom.
Which, of course, leads us to the next skill.
Human Design Deconditioning Skill #4: Figure out what your feelings are telling you.
Every emotion holds wisdom. Even the gritty ones like shame and despair. They offer us insight and guidance into our next “right” steps.
Our not-self themes of frustration, bitterness, anger, and disappointment reveal where we are using our energy “incorrectly”.
But all emotions have wisdom.
As we learn to feel our feelings, that wisdom begins to reveal itself inside our bodies.
The trouble is that most of us have deep conditioning around honoring that wisdom.
And, you guessed it, this is where the next skill comes into play.
Human Design Deconditioning Skill #5: Find the “true block”
So, you may already know that I don’t believe in “blocks.” What is more accurate is that our energy is “pooling.”
I’m not going to get too deep into that in this post. But it is important that you understand that your “negative habits” are not in the way.
It isn’t that the Generator chooses productivity or the Projector chooses to give unsolicited advice.
It’s WHY they are doing that.
It’s the unconscious shadows that they are trying to repress in an attempt to belong.
For example, the Generator may believe that doing what you love to do is selfish. And they may also believe that being selfish is the worst thing to be.
So, they don’t honor the wisdom of their frustration because they don’t want to be seen as selfish.
The fear of being seen as selfish is the “true block.”
We must learn how to identify these places within ourselves if we are to continue on our path of deconditioning.
Which is where our next skill picks up.
Human Design Deconditioning Skill #6. Clear the “block” by embracing the shadow.
Once we have identified the shadows, we are at our first critical point of choice.
We can either continue rejecting the shadow and keep doing what we have always done.
Or, we can recognize the infinite value of the shadow and learn how to harness it with full consciousness.
For example, with the Generator, they would lose their minds grip on “selfishness” by exploring the benefits of being selfish.
One of those benefits might be that other people actually benefit MORE when Generators do what they love.
Think about a Generator you know that is slogging through life doing shit they hate. And then think about a Generator who is completely lit up and in love with their life.
Which one do you want to be around?
Well, in order to create that completely lit up state, that Generator has to be doing what they love. Even if some people don’t like it.
By embracing being seen as selfish, the Generator actually steps into wholeness, personal integrity, and alignment with their dharma.
Which is actually what the world needs more of, not less.
This leads us to the next skill for deconditioning and human design.
Human Design Deconditioning Skill #7: Identify other places where the shadow was “blocking.”
There is a distinct thing that happens when we do shadow integration work.
We experience start seeing how avoidance of the shadow has impacted other areas of our life.
From our self-care, relationships, money, career, spiritual practices…to everything.
This awareness can lead to a sense of grief. Grief over what could have been had you only seen this earlier.
And it is critical to be able to “let go” of that by processing the grief. You can actually use that grief energy to create a brighter vision for the future.
With that vision in place, it’s time for the next skill.
And, I dare say, it’s the most important one.
Human Design Deconditioning Skill #8: Choose on purpose.
Remember those neuro pathways we discussed before and how I said persistence is a major key to success?
Well, now is the time to develop that persistence.
Now listen. I love a good a-ha moment. The deep cleansing feeling of letting go of old baggage is like heaven on earth.
But awareness must meet action.
No matter how profound a revelation, we still have human brains with neural pathways.
So this skill is about consciously facing all the ways you might go “the old way.” And making the conscious choice that comes from integrity and wholeness. No matter how challenging it feels in your mind.
As you do this, the old neuropathways die and new ones are formed. The more choices you make that are in integrity for you, the easier those choices become.
Think about a time when you changed jobs.
For who knows how long, you drove to work a certain way. But, you have to go a different way with your new job.
Depending on how complex the route is, you’ll need to do it quite a few times before it becomes automatic. But, eventually, you’ll be driving to work without putting any conscious effort into which way to go.
The longer you’ve gone “the old way”, the more conscious energy and choice it will take.
But, if you are persistent, you will reach the promised land.
The Generator will do what they love doing. The Projector will reserve their energy for people that truly recognize their magic.
And that leads us to the next skill:
Human Design Deconditioning Skill #9: Celebrate your successes; receive the fruits of your (inner and outer) devotion.
You’ve probably heard a gazillion times that you need to be able to “receive.”
And that conversation gets so overly complicated that most people don’t even really understand what it means.
I’m going to simplify it for you:
Receiving and celebrating is about FEELING your feelings of gratitude, appreciation, love, recognition, joy, prosperity, alignment. Whatevs.
The irony is that most of us have an easier time feeling our “negative” feelings than the “positive” ones. We don’t know how to really truly be with those positive emotions.
When we don’t process our celebratory emotions, we end on a hamster wheel of seeking.
But our intentions deepen when we make space to FEEL those feelings. They become truer, clearer, and more potent than ever. They guide us to our next most aligned iteration.
This leads us to our final skill.
Human Design Deconditioning Skill #10: Recognize that deconditioning is an ongoing process. And that you have everything you need to do it over and over again.
We live in a culture that believes that the promised land is a perfect life.
But, it doesn’t actually work like that. Our ever-expanding consciousness isn’t a line, it’s a spiral.
We revisit the same things over and over again on deeper and more conscious levels.
For the Generator, they may notice more nuanced ways that they are choosing “productivity” over what they love.
Either way, the work is the same. It’s the same skills, over and over again. Once you learn them, you will carry them with you for the rest of your life.
There is nothing more valuable than knowing you have your own back. And that you know how to face whatever comes your way. That is confidence, trust, and Grace.