What Does Not-Self Mean in Human Design Parenting?

Human Design Parenting

The not-self theme in Human Design parenting

Since beginning my parenting by design journey I’ve started to really see how living by our own design as a parent can really help, especially in those challenging parenting moments – I’m talking tantrums, meltdowns, boundary pushing – you know what I mean!

While parenting by design (meaning living by your own design AND honouring your kids’ design) is by no means a perfect solution to every parenting woe – it helps. A Lot. Just having the awareness alone of your own design can really set you up for a happier parenting experience.

What does not-self mean in Human Design parenting?

In Human Design one of the first things you’re shown when you pull your chart (which you can do here, here free) is your not-self theme. This word is a reaction or response to when something isn’t right, you’re not happy or you’re living ‘out of alignment’ (another one of those popular phrases right now!)

Depending on your energy type there are 4 not-self themes:

Manifestor not-self -> Anger

Generator and Manifesting Generator not-self -> Frustration

Projector not-self -> Bitterness

Reflector not-self -> Disappointment

parenting by design
parenting by design

When you learn your energy type and you discover your not-self theme, consider when in your life you’ve experienced these feelings. I know for me (I’m a generator) I experience frustration when I’m taken out of my focus or when I end up feeling like I have to do certain things for others that do not bring me joy. When I learnt about this as a parent I shifted things so that I could spend more quality time with myself doing things that bring me joy and happiness (like a solo run along the beach or time for reading a book each day). What then happens is you’re brought back to ‘yourself’ and your signature theme, which for me is satisfaction.

See how the loop closes when you start to live by design? The not-self theme becomes less and less and the signature theme – i.e. you living to your true self – becomes the new norm. These small shifts, done with awareness and consciousness bring you back into alignment.

The not-self in your kids

The amazing thing about parenting by design (ok there a lots, but this one’s a biggie) is that when you start to actually live by your design and you’re aware of your own not-self and signature themes you can then also help your children do the same.

Just knowing their energy type will give you so much insight into how they are meant to be – and remember, kids come perfectly designed as they are – they are born in alignment!

So it’s then your role as the parent to help them stay that way as much as possible.

As a personal example I parent a projector and a reflector. I’m conscious of helping my projector embrace her signature theme of success, while also balancing her not-self theme of bitterness. I’m seeing this pop up in various ways such as being competitive – she is wants to be the best at the monkey bars, the best at riding a bike, the fastest swimmer etc. (like most kids). But because I know her design I can help her to manage this desire for constant success along with the inevitable pitfalls she encounters in her pursuit of it – she is building her resilience muscles and recognising that success doesn’t always happen the first time (and learning to ride a bike involves a lot of falling off!)

For my reflector her signature is surprise / delight and her not-self is disappointment. This is a little more tricky because to a 3 year old there is lots to be disappointed about (no more chocolate / we have to leave the playground now / the spoon isn’t yellow etc.) And honestly this feeds into the not-self theme for both me and my husband (both generators) where frustration can easily come out. So we have adopted a few ways to manage these situations now that we know – i.e. plenty of time warning given before we leave the playground, being silly with the blue spoon when it’s not the right colour, agreeing to make cupcakes the next day etc. These feelings of surprise and delight for our little reflector help her to recognise the various feelings and reactions she is having so she can learn how to process the inevitable disappointments in life while also revelling in the many delights it has to offer.

While these might not seem like big things, that’s kind of the point here. It’s the small shifts that have the biggest impact sometimes.

parenting by design

Ready to add Human Design to your parenting toolkit?

Start with a Printable Human Design wall chart (for you or your child) and start to learn more about this incredible tool for your life, and parenting journey. See the full range of custom digital HD wall charts, ebooks and bundles here.

Keen to dive deeper?


I work 1:1 with parents to understand their own Human Design as well as their child’s. I offer individual, parent/child and full family sessions. Learn more here.


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Hey there!

I'm Claire, it's SO lovely to have you here!

I help conscious parents understand and integrate their family's unique Human Design into everyday life.

Parenting by design has helped me to see my beautiful kiddos on an entirely new level. I can't wait to help you start to parent with soul too!

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