This post details a set of guidelines for working with the memory reconsolidation tools in the rest of the sequence. Use it to get the most out of your memory reconsolidation procedure.

Start with the More Cognitively Fused Schema

For every belief schema you're working with, there's (at least) two belief schema's at play. There's the side that believes a particular thing, and then there's a side that wants you to question the belief in that thing. As a general rule, you should always start with the side that's more cognitively fused.

As an example, I was working with someone who was having issues going to bed on time, and wanted to change that. Before we started looking at the schema of "I should avoid ruminating by staying up late," We first examined the schema of "I should get more sleep."

By starting with the schema that you're more cognitively fused with, you avoid confirmation bias and end up with more accurate beliefs at the end.

The Resistance is the Way

If at any point, you encounter resistance to working on a particular technique with a particular schema, what you've found is a "Meta-schema" that believes changing this belief would be harmful. Rather than push through this resistance, loop back to the beginning of the Debugging process, and work with this new schema.

As an example, I found myself trying to change the schema that "I should avoid failure". I kept getting resistance, looped back, and found the schema "Most people should like me.", only once I worked on reconsolidating that schema was I able to return to the original schema.

Reverse Your Fusion

For any given technique, there's two ways you can approach it. You can work with the schema from "Inside" experiencing it as who you are, or you can work with it from the "Outside", putting some distance between yourself and the schema. As a general rule, I recommend reversing whatever your default is. If you frequently cognitively fuse with a schema, I recommend creating some distance/dissociation from it. If you frequently distance/dissociate from a schema, when doing the technique try as much as you can to fuse with it. This shift in perspective often goes a long way in providing new perspectives on the schema and allowing the re-consolidation to take place.

Go With the Most Salient Access Point

In contrast to the last point, you want to use whatever your natural inclination is as far as the schema access point. If a memory is coming up, use the evidence access point, if semantic content is coming up, use the belief access point, etc. Being able to fluidly switch access points to the schema as different things come up for you is key to quick reconsolidation.

Experiencing a Schema as True Allows for Updating

Via Kaj Satola

Something that been useful to me recently has been remembering that according to memory reconsolidation principles, experiencing an incorrect emotional belief as true is actually necessary for revising it. Then, when I get an impulse to push the wrong-feeling belief out of my mind, I instead take the objecting part or otherwise look for counterevidence and let the counterbelief feel simultaneously true as well. That has caused rapid updates the way Unlocking the Emotional Brain describes.
I think that basically the same kind of thing (don't push any part out of your mind without giving it a say) has already been suggested in IDC, IFS etc.; but in those, I've felt like the framing has been more along the lines of "consider that the irrational-seeming belief may still have an important point", which has felt hard to apply in cases where I feel very strongly that one of the beliefs is actually just false. Thinking in terms of "even if this belief is false, letting myself experience it as true allows it to be revised" has been useful for those situation

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While we are on the topic of sharing memory reconsolidation tricks -

Something that been useful to me recently has been remembering that according to memory reconsolidation principles, experiencing an incorrect emotional belief as true is actually necessary for revising it. Then, when I get an impulse to push the wrong-feeling belief out of my mind, I instead take the objecting part or otherwise look for counterevidence and let the counterbelief feel simultaneously true as well. That has caused rapid updates the way Unlocking the Emotional Brain describes.

I think that basically the same kind of thing (don't push any part out of your mind without giving it a say) has already been suggested in IDC, IFS etc.; but in those, I've felt like the framing has been more along the lines of "consider that the irrational-seeming belief may still have an important point", which has felt hard to apply in cases where I feel very strongly that one of the beliefs is actually just false. Thinking in terms of "even if this belief is false, letting myself experience it as true allows it to be revised" has been useful for those situations.


Then, when I get an impulse to push the wrong-feeling belief out of my mind, I instead take the objecting part or otherwise look for counterevidence and let the counterbelief feel simultaneously true as well. That has caused rapid updates the way Unlocking the Emotional Brain describes.

I've had mixed success with using this sort of dissonance based updating in coaching, it seems to work for some people when they have lots of self-trust and love, and feel safe, but otherwise seems to cause the schema to shut down and some amount of distress. This is why I put it much further up on the hierarchy.One thing I've had success with is gradually working up to dissonance. I start with a dialogue based method where you switch between two schemas (internal double crux, coherence therapy based memory switching, etc), and start at first with the switch very slow, allowing time to take in the new schema. Then, we start switching faster and faster, until we finally get to the point where its' so fast we hold both of the schemas at the same time.

This is a great one! Added to the post.

[+][comment deleted]2y 2

As a general rule, you should always start with the side that's more cognitively fused.

Thanks, this has been a useful tip.

E.g. I've had a persistent aversion to looking people in the eyes while I'm talking to them; I've made temporary progress on this issue on several occasions but it has always regenerated. Nudged by this post, I finally realized/remembered that I should also be asking why I do want to look them in the eyes. (this is a bit embarrassing since I should have picked this kind of thing up from my IFS training, but apparently didn't consistently enough)

Asking that question brought up a certain kind of desired self-image which involved being able to look at people in the eyes, together with a prediction of the ways in which being that kind of a person would make me feel good. Surfacing that assumption made it possible to investigate and reconsolidate some of the assumptions in that schema, after which I ended up at "maybe looking people in the eyes isn't that important after all". But then making that update, somehow made it easier to notice that were sources of discomfort in not-looking-at-people as well. I'm not sure what position I'll end up in, but right now the thought of looking people in the eyes when I'm talking to them is starting to feel like a genuinely enjoyable thought.

If at any point, you encounter resistance to working on a particular technique with a particular schema, what you've found is a "Meta-schema" that believes changing this belief would be harmful. Rather than push through this resistance, loop back to the beginning of the Debugging process, and work with this new schema.

This was specific and useful. I think most "resistance is good" advice I've heard has not made the subtle point of needing to address the meta-schema.