Practical Guidelines for Memory Reconsolidation

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