What does Meta Programs mean?
Meta Programs are mental processes which manage, guide and direct other mental processes. In other words, they are processes about or at a higher level than (meta to) the mental processes they affect. You could compare them to a switchboard that controls which two telephones will be connected to each other for the process of having a conversation, or a thermostat which controls whether your air conditioning system is turned on or off. These are both metaphors for one system that controls another system.
They are internal representations of your external experience of reality. They determine how your brain pays attention to things and what it pays attention to. It’s a form of pattern recognition, where your brain attempts to sort through what the body is sensing and experiencing.
Meta-programs are neither negative nor positive. The meta-programs you use to perceive and interact with your world either work for you or they work against you. And whether or not they work for you depends on how you live your life based on your personal goals and objectives.
A Meta Program is actually a solidified meta state. That is, if you repeat the same way of thinking and the same type of behaviour over and over again (in the same context) then eventually it will become habituated and a part of who you are. For example, if a child is constantly reminded by their parents of a past negative event the child may learn to think back to past negative events and replay them in their mind. This negative thinking may then colour how they behave in the present and how they think of the future. As an adult their attention could be more on past negative events.
On the other hand if the parents had encouraged the child to learn from the past and then shift their attention onto the future and think about what they would like to experience, then the child might not only have become more future oriented but also become more optimistic.
NLP uses a contemporary metaphor taken from computer science to describe the action of one process upon another -- programs. It is often the case in computer programming that one program controls the execution of a number of other programs, selecting which ones will run at which times, and sending them information they'll need in order to function properly.