Confabulation is a term created by German neurologists Kart Bonhoeffer, Anrold Pick and Carl Wernicke in the early 1900s. These guys found that a person will fill any gap in memory with false information and thus fabricate events. This is not lying, oh no, the person really believes the information is true and is unaware of the falsehood. Weconfabulate (great word!) to make up for lack of information or memory distortion.
These ‘honest lies’ can influence how you interact in the world. Take the example of walking down a school corridor with your friends, or a work corridor for those who are older, a ‘friend’ walks past and ignores you, ‘airs’ you, looks at their fitbit, looks at their phone, whatever. The instant assumption may be ‘they don’t like me anymore’. Really? Yes, really. That jumping to conclusions is a confabulation. You had no reason to think that and yet you did. Not only that, you may further fabricate other memories or evidence which backs up this confabulation: (‘they did that the other day, I remember they blanked another friend, I thought something was up…… ‘) and so this Confabulation Trap has now fallen into the Confirmation Trap. And you honestly believe that this is the truth. Evidence suggests that when you have fallen into this confirmation trap, it can be very tricky to unbelieve the invented bank of evidence.
All of this can affect relationships and, for me, can be so exhausting for you: it’s tiring thinking all of those thoughts, worrying, thinking of solutions etc.
What is the solution? There are a few things to do and they all tap in to my SPOT IT, STOP IT AND CHOOSE, phrase.
Start by spotting the confabulation, then stop it, breathe, use mindful moments and breaths to calm your amygdala (chimp brain) and re-engage that wonderful pre frontal cortex (PFC), the part of your brain that thinks logically. Let it ask the question ‘is that true?’, the PFC needs proof, what do you know for certain? What is confabulation? and why am I making that story up in the first place?
Once you have re-engaged, be curious, ask questions perhaps of yourself or maybe of the other person. You don’t know (despite most of my friends and clients being 100% sure that they are right) and so be open to new thought and suggestion. There are almost 8 billion people on this planet and each and every one of us thinks differently, perceives differently and expresses ourselves differently, so be curious and humble……what was truth and what was confabulated?