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Anil Thomas

Master NLP Practitioner & Gestalt Therapist

How Meta Programs Work

Functionally, Meta Programs operate to determine which of our perceptions are selected for attention and represented internally from among a vast array of inbound sensory data and myriad possibilities for different ways of processing and interpreting them internally. This process of selection is commonly referred to as "sorting." That is, in order to select one thing from a group of many, one must "sort" one out to be selected from all the others.

We might think of Meta Programs as "habits of thought" or "programs of attention" -- the processes we use reflexively to sort what we pay attention to from what we filter out in various contexts. The conscious mind, it is said, can attend to a maximum of 7 +/- 2 (seven plus or minus two) representations at once. Yet our sensory receptors are actively perceiving uncounted millions of perceptions every second of our lives, and our brains are processing the vast majority of that unconsciously.

Our conscious minds are designed for focus, and 7 +/- 2 simultaneous representations are fine for that purpose in most cases. But how are the objects of focus to be selected? The conscious mind would be overwhelmed if it had to select from the near infinitude of sensory choices on a moment by moment basis. By contrast, our unconscious mind routinely handles millions of sensory representations simultaneously, all the time. The question is, how is it doing that, and is it serving us in the best way at any particular moment?

What if the unconscious is habitually selecting things (to present to our conscious awareness) which our conscious mind would prefer not to be aware of at that time or place? And what if the unconscious is programmatically filtering out information we could use beneficially in a specific context? Is it possible to change the selection criteria or update it to adapt to new circumstances?

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