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 gets thrown around a lot with 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 because that is where the real magic of human design happens. It doesn’t happen just by knowing your design or understanding, logically, your strategy and authority.
The Human Design chart holds infinite potentials 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 and offer you practical insights about deconditioning and Human Design.
But first, a little disclaimer:
I am a fifth-line mystic at heart. I use everything as a portal into Truth and wisdom. I think 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 because, 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 and my intent is for you to understand the essence of how this works rather than as a technical dissertation on the brain.
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, unlearning, changing habits, or even coaching and 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.
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 + Deconditioning Toolbox).
But what happens when that Generator was raised to believe that life is a struggle and you just have to keep your head down and work?
That belief IS conditioning; it’s a thought, not a “fact” of life.
With that conditioning, the Generator is going to face internal challenges when they try to stop doing things they don’t love doing.
To truly honor their strategy, they must go through a conscious process to make new choices.
And all of that is happening, literally, 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 science term for unconscious processes and habits.
The more we do a thing, the deeper the neural pathways become and the less energy it takes to do that thing. And preserving energy is an incredibly important aspect of our evolution as humans.
Imagine what life would be like 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. This is super helpful, right!
The problems come in when we think we should just be able to stop doing things we’ve been doing for so long.
When it seems like you are on autopilot and “can’t stop” doing something, it isn’t a personal failing. It’s because you are a human being with a perfectly functioning human brain.
Your neural pathways are doing exactly what they are designed to do. 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 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’ve been obsessed with habit change for as long as I can remember.
I have the channel of awareness (61-24) defined in my chart. Gate 24 is often called the gate of the addict because it tends to revisit things and can use this revisiting of “negative” things as a way of drowning out the voice of the “unanswerable why” from the 61.
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, this capacity for our brains to change is called neuroplasticity.
For most of human history, it was believed that it wasn’t possible to change our brains. But what we know now is that our brains have the ability to mold, shape, and change (like plastic) until we take our last breath.
But, doing so takes conscious effort, and more importantly, persistence.
There are some specific skills that need to be developed to do that and 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 a Human Design fundamentalist projecting some bullshit about how the mind is the enemy.
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 that needed 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 against us or a problem.
When our brains are conditioned to do what other people tell us to do, based on their thoughts, beliefs, values, and morals, 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.
So, instead of having a vendetta against the mind, it is more useful to learn how to work with your mind and 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 of the 10 skills that are essential for deconditioning and human design.
10 essential skills for human design deconditioning
From my perspective, there are 10 essential skills we need in order to make conscious changes in the way we show up 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 (which is included when you purchase your Human Design Map). But for now, the 10 skills are:
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.
From a brain perspective, your brain starts looking at how to make it happen and 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.
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.
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) and when we stop doing things we’ve always done, there will be feelings.
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.
Like I said before, I offer step-by-step guidance on how to do this in the deconditioning toolbox that comes with your Human Design Map, but for now, it’s really simple:
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.
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.
In Human Design terms, our not-self themes of frustration, bitterness, anger, and disappointment are showing us where we are using our energy in “incorrect” ways.
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.
Deconditioning Skill #5: Find the “true block”
So, you probably already know that I don’t believe in “blocks.” What is more accurate is that our energy is “pooling.”
And, without rabbit holing too far on that, it is important that we understand that it isn’t our “negative habits” that are 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 have been raised to believe that doing what you love to do is selfish and that absolute 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.
Deconditioning Skill #6. Clear the “block” by embracing the shadow.
Once we have identified the shadows that are preventing us from taking aligned actions, 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, once they recognize that they are really afraid to be seen as selfish, they would lose their minds grip on “selfishness” by deeply 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 in a space of knowing what is right for them outside of what other people think is right.
By embracing being seen as selfish, the Generator actually steps into a deeper sense of 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.
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 a sort of crystal clear vision about all the things we’ve been doing to avoid being seen in a certain way.
We see that our fear of being seen as selfish (or any other shadow) has had deep ramifications all over our lives. From our self-care, to our relationships, to money, to career, to spiritual practices…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 and using that 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.
Deconditioning Skill #8: Choose on purpose.
Remember those neuro pathways we talked about before and how I said that persistence is a major key to success?
Well, now is the time to develop that persistence.
As much as I love a good a-ha moment and the deep cleansing feeling of letting go of old baggage, awareness must meet action.
No matter how profound a revelation, we still have human brains with neural pathways.
So this skill is all about consciously facing all the ways in which you might go “the old way” and making the 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, without the fears of the shadows, 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, with your new job, you have to go a different way.
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 and the Projector will reserve their energy for people that truly recognize their magic.
And that leads us to the next skill:
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 we do with our positive ones. We don’t know how to really truly be with those positive emotions.
The trouble is that when we don’t make space to really be with and process our celebratory emotions, we end on a hamster wheel of constant seeking, constant improvement, constant growth.
But when we make space to really FEEL those feelings, our intentions deepen. They become truer, more clear, and even more potent than ever before. They guide us to our next most aligned iteration.
Which leads us to our final skill.
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 tends to tell us that once we reach the promised land, that we have somehow arrived or that we’ve made it.
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, just on deeper and more conscious levels.
For the Generator, that might be that they start to 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. And once you learn them, you will carry them with you for the rest of your life.
And 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. That is trust. That is Grace.
If you want to use your Human Design to decondition and get all of these skills spelled out with step-by-step instructions, get your Human Design Map + Deconditioning Toolbox here.