What is the Not-Self according to Human Design? Is it a bad thing? No. Is it a good thing? No. It just is. It is something that we live with, that we co-exist with. It is a part of us. The term “Not-Self” is just a term that is used to describe the part of us that the mind falsely identifies as “me”, as who I am. Some have misinterpreted this term as being a bad thing. They might say, “oh that’s your not-self” or “oh that’s my not-self”, meaning she/he or I was doing something bad or wrong. When we take the morality out of the term, however, it simply states a fact: “that is not me” or “that is not you”.
It is the mind that is misidentifying with the Not-Self. The mind makes it personal and judges it as bad. The truth is, the True Self and the Not-Self are blended together as us, as one. We could just as easily say “the definition” (true-self) and the “non-definition” (not-self). In reality, though, these two pieces cannot be separated; the True-Self is both definition and non-definition co-existing together in a healthy way. They are one, and are only discussed as individual pieces so that our mind can begin to distinguish between what is and is not us. What we are trying to achieve, by learning to discern what is and what is not us, is a healthy whole rather than a distorted whole. Let me explain …
The only reason there is a term for the Not-Self (how the white spaces in our design are misinterpreted) is so that we can step outside for a moment and look at it objectively, to see it mechanically, in order to see that there is a difference between definition and non-definition; and to see the potential distortion with the non-definition. Through our life experiences, non-definition is personalized and misinterpreted, and therefore distorted by the mind.
Mechanical is a term used to describe the nuts and bolts of something, such as here is the blueprint, the mechanical drawing with the facts (the BodyGraph). These facts are neither good nor bad; they just are what they are. It is we humans that see the term or the thing Not-Self as bad. The mind measures everything and puts it into a category! I find it is best not to get too hung up on the terminology or interpret it based on social conditioning. For me, learning not to place a moral judgment on the Human Design terms requires an expansion of thinking, and I quite like this challenge.
When we look at a BodyGraph we see areas that are colored in and we see areas that are white. The colored in areas represent definition, our life force that we put out into the world. We influence or impact the world with our life force; it expresses the essence of who we are. You step into a room and you bring that life force into the room.
The white spaces represent how we take in the other, the environment. When I meet someone with definition in their design that I don’t have, then my white areas take that other person in energetically. Those white spaces, receptive places, are where we meet and greet each other. It feels this way or it feels that way depending upon the many different mechanical things that happen when we meet.
When my mind tries to process why it feels this way or that way, I then get into measuring the encounter. From that measuring I create a descriptive story. Oh, it felt so good to meet him or oh, it felt so bad to meet him, etc. Someone else can meet the same person and because their hooks-ups are different based on their unique designs they will have a completely different experience!
The non-definition part of us has been distorted and misinterpreted by the mind. Survival is built into our DNA, and our mind is very much absorbed and preoccupied with survival. Our mind takes the information from all the encounters over the years, categorizes and compartmentalizes, and tries to create mental strategies for survival. We then live a life based on these confused and distorted mental strategies to survive, making one distorted mental decision after another, and ending up living a life that is not us – a Not-Self life.
My point is that the term Not-Self simply means: It’s not me. The term is intended to help put what is not me into perspective, and not to cast blame, create shame or guilt, or to make you feel bad about yourself. Once you understand what in your design is not you, you can take in the encounter with the other without needing to build a mental story around it, or trying to figure it all out. You can enjoy the difference for what it is – just difference.
Our non-definition is where we go to school and eventually, hopefully, become wise. The information and experiences that we take in through our non-definition white spaces teach us. Our non-definition IS what we are here to be curious about, but it is not us. We are attracted to what we are not. We are naturally attracted to difference because it’s interesting. This difference that we learn about, when we are rid of all the distortion, gives us a completely different view of life, a much clearer view.
Strategy and Authority are decision-making tools that by-pass or transcend the mind. Surrendering to our body consciousness, our Strategy and Authority, allows us, decision-by-decision, to realign our lives and live as ourselves. In Human Design, this is the journey of deconditioning and awakening. As we decondition we begin to live the life we were meant to live, and take in life through our non-definition as it was meant. We begin to live a holistic life fully integrating our definition, and our healthy non-definition, without distortion. This is freedom! And once we attain this state of being, we have the potential for a clean and clear “Outer Authority” to share with others.
Lynda Bunnell, Director of the International Human Design School, worked closely with Ra Uru Hu since 1999 and was one of the first to begin teaching the public about Human Design and training Human Design professional Analysts and Teachers world-wide.
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