Long-term practice of FIML generates deep change in the human psyche. Social relations, habitual traits and attitudes, as well as ingrained emotional responses may all be subject to profound transformation.
The reason this happens is the basic FIML technique provides consistently good counter-evidence to habitual mental and emotional reactions. In addition, the technique itself teaches the practitioner’s mind–or shows it by example–to apply similar kinds of reasoning to many other situations that are not open to FIML dialog.
The basic FIML technique is a deceptively simple stop-and-query technique designed for use in conversations between close friends or partners. In our How to do FIML post, we have described the basic technique as clearly and simply as we could. This description should work as an effective model for beginning FIML practitioners, but it is a bit like describing in words how to hit a baseball or dive into a pond. The experience of actually doing FIML in a real-life, dynamic, emotionally-charged conversation will draw on a wide variety of skills and emotions from both partners. These aspects of FIML cannot be well-described in words because they will be different for different people and in different situations.
FIML does not tell anyone what to think or feel, but rather provides a method for clarifying thought and feeling as they occur in real life.
FIML practice allows partners to expand their senses of who they are and access these areas through speech. Correctly done, FIML will keep partners from becoming lost in side-issues or emotional traps. FIML gives partners access to a shared meta-perspective that will help them gradually rediscover or redesign how they think of themselves and each other, and how they react in many different kinds of situations.
FIML is like yoga in that it uses no props. Yoga uses the body to exercise the body. FIML uses two minds working together on the basis of shared rules. With practice, FIML partners will find that they are able to leverage or gain access to many areas of themselves that cannot be reached by other means. After several years of practice, partners will discover that they have gained levels of mental and emotional strength and freedom that had been barely imaginable before.
The basic FIML technique depends on partners clearly remembering everything that is/was in their mind(s) at the moment a phrase in question was spoken and/or heard. By honestly comparing the contents of their minds under these circumstances, partners will gain access to the rich realm of secondary and tertiary meanings that accompany all utterances. At the same time, they will free themselves from habitual mistaken interpretations whenever they arise.
Their minds, thus, will gradually gain freedom from error (mental and psychological) while broadening the range of subject matter they are capable of entertaining. And this will have a far-reaching influence on both behavior and perception in many other areas.
Once partners are skilled in the basic FIML technique, they will find that it need not always be done immediately upon noticing an emotional or judgmental reaction. After a few months of successful FIML practice, partners will probably find that they can bring up events from hours before and both will still have a reasonably accurate memory of what was said and heard.
It is important not to jump to this level too quickly, though, because if the basic technique has not been mastered, partners will lose sight of the meta-perspective, without which deep understanding and transformation will not be possible. Experienced partners will know when they have good data and can proceed with a FIML dialog and when they don’t. If you don’t have good data (both partners remember exactly what was said and what they were thinking), don’t do a FIML dialog. Just drop the subject. Though retain the general sense of something having happened because the subject will almost certainly come up again. When that happens, try to get good data you both agree on and then proceed with a FIML dialog.