Years ago, Leslie Cameron Bandler, the late wife of Dr. Richard Bandler, co-developer of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) identified and isolated a series of patterns people utilize as they interact with their environment. Some of those patterns had to do with what moves them-- motivates them to action; others had to do with the various decisions people make as they work within the various contexts of their lives. These were called, "meta-programs."

Think computer for a moment: a device that enables us to process information. We put software into it. But computers already contain a kind of "software" that tell them what to do with what we put into it. Those in humans are the "meta-programs." Some examples include: Who is it about? How do we know we did the right thing? How much information do we need to decide something? Do we prefer to create rules or follow rules? How do we decide to trust (does it require time to pass, do we trust instantly)? And more.

Among the more salient examples of meta-programs, in my opinion are those involving our frame of reference and whether or not we know we did the right thing. For example, we can "sort by self" or "sort by other"; and we can have an internal frame of reference (I know I did a good job or I know this shirt goes with these pants), or an external frame of reference (I have to check with others). As we evolve and develop what we notice is generally in relation to ourselves, and we are at first dependent on the adults in our lives for feedback as to what is a good or poor choice, (sort by self, external frame of reference). Then we become independent (think teenagers-- sort by self, internal frame of reference...this is why they close their bedroom door, spray paint their hair, etc.); And finally, as we emerge into adulthood we often become interdependent if we evolve successfully as fully-functioning adults (sort by OTHER, internal frame of reference).

Look at a couple of examples involving events that have recently occurred. Last week, there were an unusually high number of football injuries related to aggressive tackling, referred to as, "helmet to helmet" contact; something that can and has resulted in severe spinal injury and concussions. Two NFL players were cited for their transgressions. One, Rodney Harrison, upon being cited, threatened to quit defending his actions as in effect, simply being "part of the game." His position is that if you take a way a defensive player's ability to perform at a peak level, he can't do his job. Think of the meta-programs operating here. Sort by self (Who is it about? Rodney), internal frame of reference. This is characteristic of an independent thinker, something that begins in adolescence. Then look at Brandon Meriweather, another transgressor. He openly apologized for hurting his opponent, stated a realization that helmet-to-helmet hits are dangerous and pledged to play within the rules. "Sort by other" (his concern far exceeds his own objective which was to tackle his man), and internal frame of reference. He was acting more interdependently, the level of a fully-evolved adult human being.

Then there is the battle of the TV mega-moguls: FOX vs. Cablevision. Two wealthly giants bickering over money when they each have more than most of the clients who utilize their services! so FOX TV decides to pull the plug on Channel 5, 9 and FOX Business, since Cablevision wouldn't pay the requested increase that FOX was demanding. And all this at the expense of you and I, the innocent consumers. So given the above, plug in their meta-programs... Correct, sort by self, internal frame of reference. Their concerns are about themselves-- not you. Learning to decide in relation to "other" is where we strive to place our attention as we evolve into responsible adults.