Why FIML practice works so well

Done properly, FIML takes the worst parts of communication and treats them as the most interesting. And they are interesting. I guarantee you will see yourself and your partner very differently after a few months of FIML practice. Vague impressions and uncertain emotions, many of which you may not even be aware of, will give way to an increasing fineness of detail and definition in your communications with each other. And this will have a major impact on how you view yourself, and how you talk to yourself. The same will be true for your partner.

Another way of looking at FIML is to understand that you and your partner are creating your own micro-culture. What is in your culture and how it works is up to you. I don’t think it will work well or last long if you do not have an ethical basis for it, but beyond that, the rest is up to you. As a side note, FIML cannot possibly work if one partner is dishonest. There is no point in doing it if you plan to lie. Please see How to do FIML for a complete explanation of what is meant by honesty and what its limits within FIML practice are.

As partners progress in FIML practice, they will notice that each FIML query becomes a sort of example that expands within the mind. Once you notice a mistaken impression in one area and have dealt with it, you will probably notice that that same mistake is being repeated in other areas. This will strengthen your initial insights and make it easier to correct other occurrences of that mistake. Once you succeed in this a few times, you will experience significant feelings of relief and an increase in mental and emotional energy because your mind is no longer working against itself in that area.

And all of this will make FIML practice easier and more fluid in any other areas that come up. Just knowing that you have done FIML successfully and that both partners are willing and able to benefit from further FIML discussions is a huge relief. Not much is going to bother either one of you because you both know that you have the tools to deal with whatever presents itself.

Remember that FIML is not about judging. FIML is not about consciously or unconsciously importing structures or judgments from the large culture around you into the micro-culture you are co-forming with your partner. An example of what I mean could be tone of voice. If your partner’s tone of voice bothers you, start a FIML query, but do not expect or look for them to apologize for it. Rather, look for them to explain it while you explain to them what you think you heard. If you heard derision, say, where none was intended, the mistake is probably all yours, though your partner may want to reflect on that tone of voice anyway. Both of you can decide how to deal with that tone of voice in the future. Do you want it removed from your micro-culture? Do you want to keep it but understand it differently? The choice is entirely up to the two of you.

Notice how important it is in this example that both partners be completely honest about what they meant and what they heard. If one partner lies and says there was no derision in their voice when there was, your FIML practice sucks. This is so very important because partners not only can but must co-form their own micro-culture. Another way of saying that is we do not want to import anything thoughtlessly from the larger culture. We want our micro-culture to be clean, clear, and honest. We want it to be something that both partners agree on without reservation or hidden motives. If one of you is lying, none of this is possible. A lie is essentially a hidden standard, a standard one partner imports in secret without telling the other.

Naturally, mistakes happen and people have their failings. If you are lying, reread How to do FIML and and stop it. Read also On the Importance of Honesty and the Decision to Believe. It is not that hard to be honest in FIML practice. But it is absolutely necessary.

To continue our example, another important point can be made about tone of voice in this context. Basically, who can say what is “derision” in someone’s tone or not? A flat sounding, no-nonsense, here-is-the-info tone of voice can easily be misinterpreted as derision when it is not. If you import the false notion that any flat, no-nonsense tone is derisive, right there you are placing a huge limit on you and your partner’s capacity for full and open communication. Not having any strong, no-nonsense tone in your micro-culture more or less condemns you both to not being able to get your own facts and make your own decisions for yourselves. It may very well cause or perpetuate a passive attitude toward your existence and your place in the world. Decide for yourselves what your tones mean and how to deal with them. Of course, we have to keep the standards of the larger culture in mind, but not so much that we surrender our wise autonomy to them.

FIML practice works because it integrates and focuses linguistics, psychology, sociology, and interpersonal communication all at the same time. We use our speech to find sound data points that can be calmly and reasonably discussed. This exposes our psychology while providing us with sensible feedback from our partners. This helps partners co-form their own culture without having to conform unnecessarily to the culture of someone else. And all of this frees our interpersonal communication from blockage, misunderstanding, fear, and so on.

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