Understanding how you process information increases your flexibility in how you communicate. We are going to look at habit systems, patterns and filters that define how we process information from the outside world. These are called Metaprograms (MP’s).
Metaprograms were initially proposed by Richard Bandler, one of the original creators of NLP. Bandler co-founded NLP with John Grinder. Bandler noticed that just like a computer, we as humans tended to run programs in our brains that dictated how we processed information.
MP’s are related to our brain or neurology, which is strongly influenced by our experiences. When we have an experience, it gets logged in the emotional brain. Much of the wiring in our emotional brain happens from early childhood, so we are not even aware of it.
The programming is like a generalization that allows us to respond to similar situations in similar ways without us having to think about it. This tends to be survival based, what is the safe, comfortable way to respond. It is largely unconscious. Each one of us has a programming that makes us respond in different ways.
Habits show up in how we communicate, how we speak. Before we become aware of our habits, we just go on with what we know. As we become aware of our habits, we can choose to develop new habits, new neuropathways and increase our flexibility in communication. We can develop a conscious understanding or our MP’s when we put our attention on them.
MP’s operate at the level of “how” we process information. It is a skill. They are not who we are. MP’s are perceptual filters through which we experience life. The more we develop new habits, the more flexible we become in our brains and the more choice we have in different contexts. We can choose to use other styles that will serve us better since different situations will call for different styles. Or if we don’t get the results we want, we might want to try something new.
As much as our emotional brain loves labeling and either/or types of situations, MP’s actually operate along a spectrum. Also, they can be context specific; we may operate one way in one context, and another way in another. So with the idea of a spectrum, we access the neo-cortex or creative visual brain. This brain is not linked to our emotions, which gives us great power, more choice and flexibility.
There are many MP’s. For today I will share one of the MP’s as an example. Understanding this MP helps you understand how you reason out a decision.
Imagine a spectrum where procedural is at one end of the line and possibilities is at the other end of the line: Procedural Possibilities. A question we might ask is ‘Why did you decide to explore coaching?’ or ‘Why did you decide to explore becoming an entrepreneur?' Jot down a few notes in response to this question from your personal perspective.
How do you notice you responded to that question? Where along the spectrum would you say you fall in this context? Are you close to procedural or possibilities? What are you observing about yourself?
Remember this is a spectrum and you can filter differently for different contexts. For example, when you are learning something for the first time, you may want to know the right way to do something, correct, tested methodology, what is known from the past, the facts, and the order of the steps. This would be more procedural. When you are at work as an entrepreneur you may be thinking of possibilities, change, new and different things. What could be in the future? You love to forge new ground, pioneering and oriented to your values. Filtering from here you are interested in what’s not known rather than what is known. You love that blue sky thinking. This would be more possibilities.
If you are interested in this topic, I invite you to explore further. If you search the Internet for Richard Bandler, John Grinder, Neurolinguistic Programming you will have ample information to begin your exploration and understanding.