Basic FIML practice works mainly with short-term memory, or working memory, by being “always available” to purge mistaken interpretations as soon as they arise within it.
This is why basic FIML practice must start quickly. And this is why partners must make a prior agreement about doing FIML.
Partners must both completely understand that FIML is “always available” to either of them and that the initiation of a FIML discussion must happen quickly enough to deal with the contents of the short-term memory.
Of course there will be times when conditions will not permit a FIML discussion (dinner at mom’s), and there will be other times when one or both partners decide to not pursue a discussion due to fatigue.
In either of those cases, a good discussion may be still taken up later on or on the next day, though the loss of good data from the working memory of the moment in question often makes these discussions less enlightening. Beginners would do well to avoid kicking the can down the road as much as possible. Advanced FIML partners may find that they are able to do it well enough on more occasions than when they were beginners.
Once partners have made an agreement to make FIML practice “always available,” they will rapidly cease planting new seeds of mistaken interpretations in their short-term memories.
Their success at doing this depends on how well they do basic FIML practice. If one or both of them is not mindful or honest enough to do it well, it may take longer for them to trust the practice and each other. In most cases, I believe, FIML practice itself—merely trying reasonably well to do it—will correct lingering trust and mindfulness problems, both of which strongly characterize virtually all non-FIML communication.
Once partners are fairly successful at basic FIML practice, the new seeds that they are no longer planting in their short-term memories obviously will never be “consolidated” and thus never enter their long-term memories.
Consolidation is a technical term for the process of turning a short-term memory into a long-term memory. Long-term memories are, of course, much more stable than short term ones.
After just a few weeks, reasonably good FIML partners will begin to notice that nothing, or nothing much, is happening between them to cause new problems. They will notice that they are mostly no longer creating, consolidating, and storing new mistaken interpretations of each other.
This is a nice feeling. But partners will not be finished just yet because for all of their lives prior to doing FIML they have been creating, consolidating, and storing mistaken impressions of everyone they know, including their partner.
As partners continue doing FIML, they will see that FIML practice is also gradually purging their long-term memory of mistaken interpretations. It does this through the short-term memory.
In FIML practice, you can think of your short-term memory as being like a funnel or drain through which the mistaken contents of your long-term memory will flow out of you.
The reason this happens is all mistaken interpretations in your long-term memory will eventually impact your short-term memory.
The moment this happens when you are with your partner, you will catch it. Eventually you will start to actually see how your long-term memory is influencing what you take into your short-term memory. As you purge those sorts of mistakes from your short-term memory with the basic FIML technique, you will notice that those long-term memory mistakes will start to weaken and disappear.
How long they take to disappear will depend on their strength and your practice. If you are mindful and honest, they may go away fairly quickly.
An example is in order. Let’s say that you had an experience when you were young that caused you to feel stupid. The experience may even have been pretty minor. All that matters is you consolidated that experience and stuck it into your long-term memory where, from then on, it influenced a great deal of what goes into your short-term memory.
All of us have stuff like that. If you are like the person described above, you will tend to have a hair-trigger about feeling stupid in many situations. And because of that, you will make mistakes like this: you may see someone smile at you and judge that they are patronizing you because you think they think you are stupid.
Examples vary, but you get the idea. Change the example to insecure, abandoned, low self-esteem, whatever, and change the incident from a smile to a tone of voice, the basic problem is the same—you have a long-term memory interpretation that frequently, even constantly, influences how you interpret the present.
If you think the capitol of New York State is New York City and someone shows you that it is Albany, you may go “huh,” but you will probably drop the NYC idea right away with little or no fuss. The evidence is right there before your eyes. Pretty easy to change.
It’s not so different for emotional material. If you do FIML right—that is, by focusing on small incidents in the moment with a caring parnter—you will affect your long-term memory in much the same way as upgrading any other wrongly learned fact.
Strong emotional memories, naturally, will require more examples for the new information to unseat them, but the process is not all that different.
As stated in other posts, I don’t think that FIML practice is right for everyone. FIML partners need to care deeply about each other and they must be willing at least to learn to trust each other completely. That is already a pretty high bar, especially in this fucked-up world. Beyond that, partners have to be mindful and be willing to do FIML discussions frequently.
For couples that meet the basic requirements, in most cases, I believe, FIML practice will show positive results in a few weeks, good results in a few months, and excellent results in a few years. Once you get the idea, I doubt you will want to stop.