If you have never heard of this word, I am so excited to be able to introduce it to you because it is one of my favorites! Not only is it super fun to say but just knowing what it means and how often I DO this has made me more aware of the tricks the mind can play in relationships with my partner, family, and friends! Just knowing this word and the meaning behind it can save your relationship. I know, it sounds dramatic, but hear me out!
Confabulation: a plausible but made up story that fills in the missing parts of a story, experience, or memory.
So apparently our brains don't like incomplete stories. So what the brain does is it automatically creates a story to fill in the blanks. Here is the other, not-so-good, thing about that, we tend to fill in the story to our detriment. We make up the missing parts of the story in ways that hurt us. For example, have you ever not received a call back from someone and made up a reason why they didn't return your call? Was it a negative or a positive reason? SEE?!?!?
"OMG, they got hit by a bus!"
"Did I offend her with something I said and now she is mad at me and won't return my calls?"
"I must have made a bad impression at dinner and now he doesn't want togo out with me anymore."
" I saw they my friends went out to lunch on facebook and didn't invite me. They must really not like me."
Sound familiar? Probably so because were have ALL done this! Then, you know thew rest of the story! We create this totally plausible, yet untrue, story in our heads, that we believe to be true and then we act accordingly. THEN, the next time we see that person, we treat them as though that made up information was true. ...and now we have a crumbling relationship. All based on a false, made up story. And this leads to the end of friendships, relationships, and all kinds of problems all because we chose the made up story over having the tough conversations to ask someone if they are mad or if something is wrong or if we offended them. I have even lost some pretty good friendships over this kind of made up negative confabulated story concept.
Mindfulness is practicing present moment awareness. When we can be mindful and present and realize that we are in made-up story-telling mode, we can stop ourselves and examine the story we are telling ourselves and decide if it is confabulated or not. I've even caught myself beginning down that road of confabulation and stopped and said out loud "confabulating!" and stopped myself. And then you have 2 options. One, accept that you don't know the whole story and really be ok with that. OR have the conversation and ask the questions you need to ask, bravely and awkwardly, head on.
I know, that second one is harder! People don't like the discomfort of asking if they did something wrong because we fear the worst...that we DID do something wrong. But I'm willing to bet you that more times than not, you actually did not do anything wrong. And those few times that maybe you did, that conversation is not nearly as difficult as you have made up in your head. And, guess what!? On the other side of that tough conversation is freedom. We get a feeling of freedom from that truth and honesty. Often, when those bridges are mended, we come out feeling even closer to that person because of the vulnerability that we open ourselves up to when we talk about the really difficult things.
So check in with the stories you are telling yourself. Are you confabulating? Are those stories real or made up? Do you need to have a vulnerable and truthful conversation? If so, take deep breath and go through the experience with someone that you care about. Don't turn your back on them. Don't let your confabulation bring down a relationship that is important to you.