Do You Seek to Fit in or Stand Out?

Part 1 of 3 series.

Something magical happens when you realize that your brain is a magnificent piece of circuitry that you have freedom and choice to re-configure so that navigating life and people becomes smoother and more gratifying. This ‘magic’ refers to the freedom of choice that comes from taking ownership of running your own brain. When you make the decision to become adaptable and flexible you step into the zone where you are proactively running your own brain and therefore really influencing what is going on around you. In any situation the person with the greatest flexibility of behaviour will exercise the greatest influence and the field of Neuroplasticity describes the amazing capacity that your brain has to change and adapt.

There is no right or wrong way to how you make sense, process and interpret the world around you. The questions become:
• Do you have the behavioural flexibility to make the best of this situation?
• Are you getting the results you are seeking in any given context?

Meta-programs or processing styles were originally created and explored by Leslie Cameron-Bandler with many others growing and contributing to her knowledge base.

Your processing styles can be grouped into continuums that illustrate the polarities at either end. In this instance we are taking a closer look at the continuum of sameness – difference and in between the degrees of integration between the two, as you see in the diagram below.

Sameness Difference

Sorting for sameness or difference, also known as matching or mismatching is a dominant cognitive behavioural style in determining your over-all preference for perceiving, engaging and responding to life.

Sameness – Difference has two aspects to it, the first one being all about how you perceive and interpret the relationship between things.

This processing style describes how you recognise and compare and make sense of information. Do you approach ‘things’, data, information, people, concepts, conversations, ideas, objects, questions, theories, advice by initially noticing what is the same to what you already know (matching or sameness) or do you initially notice what is different to what you already know (mismatching or difference)?

You may intentionally choose to use this style for different contexts and activities or it could be an overused pattern outside of your conscious awareness that dominates your perception and thinking and indeed life.

The second aspect to this processing style, whether you have preference for difference or sameness, is that it asks the question, how much time can pass before your need for change or stability kicks in? Be it in relationships, projects, goals, education etc.. For sameness, you can keep yourself motivated and engaged for a much longer period of time. If you have a higher preference for difference, then your attention span is much shorter. You get bored quickly, change direction and are tempted to throw in the towel.

How would I know which processing style is more dominant for me?

If you are more towards the difference end of the spectrum, you look for this: Dissimilar, unalike, non-identical, contrasting, divergent, original, disparate, poles apart, incompatible, mismatched, inconsistent, opposed, at odds, clashing, conflicting, contradictory, contrary, unrelated, special, exotic, offbeat, atypical, outrageous, exceptional, unconventional, out of the ordinary.

You get excited by this: change, switch, flip, unique, variety, distinct, individual, unfamiliar, rare, novel, new, fresh, original, out of the ordinary, unconventional.

If you are more towards the sameness end of the spectrum, you look for this: matching , identical, alike, duplicate, carbon-copy, twin, paired, coupled, double, interchangeable, corresponding, equivalent, parallel, like, similar, comparable, tallying, agreeing, fit-in.

You get excited by this: routine, repetition, stability, reliable, predictable, unchanging, constant, consistent, uniform, changeless.

Part 2 in this series is all about the advantages and disadvantages of how sameness and difference plays out in your work and life. And the 3rd and final part in this series are strategies on how to interrupt your stuckness in either of these patterns with the intention to develop the way you run your brain for behavioural flexibility and greater influence.


People from all walks of life engage Equilibrio’s personal life and well-being services. Our youngest client has been aged 10, and our oldest has been aged 82. We work with individuals, couples, parents and families.