In my last post I introduced the idea that fū (fuckedupedness) often shows up in the spaces we don't consciously fill with something constructive. Confabulation is a related idea: the tendency that we all have to make up stories to fit how we feel and what we see and hear. Here's how it works.
I tanked my 22nd anniversary this past September on a holiday in Whistler by being a complete dickhead to my wife (an example of nasty relationship drama fū).
I woke up in a bad mood that morning from something I thought she did the night before . I was feeling romantic after a lovely dinner and when we got back to the hotel room she turned the television on. I thought, "wow, she is completely uninterested in me." She got the cold shoulder.
I have a hard enough time enjoying golf and I started the round that day already mad. My day got increasingly worse as I lost ball after ball and I finally fully lost my shit (golf fū). I went silent for most of the rest of the round, walking by myself on the cart path, sulking like a pissy little bitch and ruining not only her round but the other couple we were playing with. I was watching all of this go down and feeling powerless to stop it.
My story that "she is completely uninterested in me" is a habitual fabrication based on how I felt (lonely) and the data I had (she decided to watch TV instead of coming to bed). I never said anything at the time, which would have saved us a ton of trouble. Had I checked it out with her, she would have said that she needed to settle her stomach a little after a big dinner before she came to bed.
Confabulation is a cognitive distortion that can be very destructive. Firstly, it's quite possible to make up positive stories, but we are wired for a negative view which at some point a long time ago helped our ancestors survive (all of our ancestors succeeded in having sex because they assumed the rustles in the bushes were sabertooth tigers). Secondly, we operate from incomplete and erroneous data. I see and hear things but I don't always see and hear everything and I don't always see and hear them accurately. I sometimes have massive gaps in my perception of a situation. And, if I am in a bad mood, angry or stressed, I have a much greater risk of making up a story that does not serve me.
My issue had actually been building months before that. Tania had been coming to bed much later than I was as she was taking care of our last sled dog who is now 15 . On the 16th hole, after I had been texting my coach Phil back and forth for several hours, I finally got my head out of my ass and came clean on what was bothering me. As my higher self was watching my lower self speak to my wife, my higher self said to my lower self, "really? that's what you have been upset about all this time? Your wife coming to bed late because she is taking care of your dying dog?" It turns out that she had been taking care of the dog herself because she knows I do not function well with too little sleep. She was doing this as an act of love! The opposite of what I made up.
The only thing that really dissolves confabulation is communication. All of this fū would have been avoided had I stopped and checked it out. The time to have the "why are you not coming to bed" conversation was actually 4 months prior to the flash point, while it would have been relatively easy and relatively unemotional.
Maybe you have one of these brewing in one of your relationships right now. It will never be easier to come clean on it than right now.
I am launching my next book on October 26th from 6PM to 7:30PM at the ATB Entrepreneur Centre on 17th Ave SW. Please let me know if you want to come and I will get you on the list. We have about 70 chairs and over 50 people have spoken up for them. RSVP@stepone.net will reserve a spot for you and a guest. I hope to see you there.