Have you ever heard the word Confabulation? When I first heard this word several years ago, it changed my life…seriously. How can a single word change your life???
I have always been interested in self help….in my mind, there are always things to learn, always ways to live healthier, always ways to be a better person and always a new way to look at things. So why did this one word have such an effect on me? This one word changed the way I looked at the world and it showed me I have a lot to learn about myself.
In Michael Neill’s book Supercoach – 10 Secret’s to Transforms Anyone’s Life, he defines confabulation as “To fill the gaps in one’s memory with fabrication that one believes to be facts.” Interesting. If you google the word, you are likely to come across this definition, “In psychology, confabulation (verb: confabulate) is a memory disturbance, defined as the production of fabricated, distorted or misinterpreted memories about oneself or the world, without the conscious intention to deceive.” That’s even more interesting, yes? This one word is describing how we lie to ourselves without even realizing it.
The wheels in my mind were spinning with this idea. And then, I heard an interview with Michael Neill where he happened to be talking about this very word. He essentially said, and I’m paraphrasing, “confabulation is the story we tell ourselves to explain an irrational decision we have made or an irrational emotion that we feel. “ Whoa!!! I don’t do that! Do I?
This brought about a new level of awareness that, when mixed with a good amount of meditation, allowed me to listen, without judgment, to the thoughts that went through my mind. Then, slowly, I started to identify thoughts that were completely not true! Oh My Goodness…I really do, do that! Assuming I’m a fairly normal person and that others think the same kind of thoughts I do, that means we all make up stories in our minds …all the time! (And rarely do they seem to be good stories.)
For example, I have noticed times when I will hear a comment that sounds chastising or condescending to me, and my mental reaction is off the charts. I start to tell myself all the ways that person is an idiot and all the ways they have done similar things in the past and all the things I should say to them and then I imagine all the nasty ways they will reply, until I find I’m having a very heated argument with someone, and they don’t even know it! It’s all in my head. If I look back at my original thoughts, I can often find that what they said was innocent, but it triggered an insecurity in me. Often , even my long list of ways they have wronged me in the past, are not quite true either…both my memories and my reactions are colored with my current (irrational) emotions.
Have you ever caught yourself having an argument in your head….with the other person not even knowing you are upset? If you can’t recall one at the moment, I bet if you pay attention to your thoughts, you will soon find yourself having one! Or you may find your memories might not be accurate, or you may find yourself coming up with several rational reasons why you have a right to be angry at your mother for what she said….even though if you listen close, you might realize you are actually just angry about a wound you are still holding onto from years ago…that may have nothing to do with your mother!
Once I started analyzing my thoughts, I realized I can’t automatically believe them…they lie to me. Now it is important to realize, my mind is not bad…this is happening because on an unconscious level, my ego is just trying to keep me from getting hurt. But, if I want to live an honest, happy and enlightened life, I must acknowledge that I cannot believe everything I see, read, hear or think!
So do yourself a favor, and start to really listen to your thoughts....and see just how many of them are really untrue!!!
Tracy Martorana is a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, Meditation Instructor and Herbalist...hoping to inspire you to live your life from a place of Holistic Wellness.