Confabulation The stories we tell our selves BY: Troy Murphy | January 2014
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We Lie! We lie to ourselves. We are not consciously evil or deceiving; but we lie. We create stories to fit the feelings, missing on broader complex happenings. Biases, destructive choices, and illogical action occurs here. We can expose these lies, pluck out their destructive impacts and flourish; but this takes strenuous effort. So we just continue to lie.
We interchangeably use ‘feelings’ and ‘emotions’ when describing felt experience. Emotions are the internal biological shifts in the organism—they motivate to action, or sometimes just stimulate thought. Emotions operate automatically often in the clandestine shadows of unconsciousness. Feelings are a conscious experience; the conscious recognition of an emotional shift. We feel when attention is given to an emotion. The emotion is then given meaning, labels and associating causes—it’s what the conscious mind does. The hidden emotions have power to wreak havoc on our lives. From this blindness of emotional motivation, we become subjects serving the unknown biological kings of our soul.
“Men believe themselves to be free, simply because they are conscious of their actions, and unconscious of the causes whereby those actions are determined.” Baruch Spinoza, Ethics
Invisible motivators ruthlessly dictate thoughts and behaviors pushing down destructive paths of decay. Because they are unseen, we don’t skeptically examine their involvement. Emotions, as sometimes described, are not always hidden guiding gems of wisdom—although they may be. Emotional reactions are learned. Past experience, especially when traumatic, scars and molds the emotions. Reaction to events flow from learning attained from the past. Living tattoos unwritten codes on our souls. These codes largely determine reactions. Violent inner-city ghettos, upper-class communities, or riotous unpredictable homes, form the emotional system—implicit memories unseen and unaccounted for.
When poor behaviors (motivated by those unseen memories) beget painful misfortunes, we conveniently blame outside causes (they’re more salient and available). Reasons outside personal responsibility soothe the ego; by formulating explanations and claiming victimhood, we achieve momentary escape. The blindness to personal motivations doesn’t protect us from consequences. Behaviors invite consequences. Justifications simply offer a momentary mirage of escape, protecting from immediate condemnation and softening outside judgments. Overtime, we still suffer from the consequences. Others tire of our constant evading of responsibility, damaging relationships. The ill contrived behaviors leave an enduring mark on our futures but also, we establish deeper patterns of justification and blame, destroying trust, weakening relationships and burning bridges to recovery.
The new predicaments of a broken soul continue to accumulate. The consequences multiply further complicating their lives. The obvious answer, addressing the original sins causing the downward spiral, doesn’t seem obvious at all, instead the justifications multiply and morph. Dishonesty and manipulation become tools to satisfy unmet needs, further alienating friends, family and community. Chaos triumphs, confusing action, futures and effective e choice. The lost soul is burdened with a life without guidance—the compass no longer points to magnetic north.
While sometimes these behaviors are mean spirited and hateful, often the acts start with undetected confabulations—the automatic reasons created by the mind. The story smoothly adapts new experience into the framework of protecting beliefs. The confabulations create security by not disrupting positive images of the self. But unchecked the stories of the mind become the foundation of destroying deceptions, deceiving ourselves and others.
"The obvious answer, addressing the original sins causing the downward spiral, doesn’t seem obvious at all, instead the justifications multiply and morph."
If a person believes they are courageous, then cowardice behaviors are justified, excusing the deed to external causes. Self-explorations (often guided by a professional) exposes hidden emotional memories motivating action and demanding distorting confabulations. Discovering the confabulations as a figment of the mind instead of infallible reality, invites challenges to their validity. We can discredit the thought and be empowered to change. We then can address the underlying problems propelling our lives in undesired directions.
Consciously recognizing emotional reactions, investigating the unconscious beliefs provoking those emotions, and then purposely challenging destructive action is the path to freedom, loosening the chains holding us back. We can escape the painful patterns that interfere with growth and blocking the obtaining of hopeful intentions.
Slow down, recognize the hidden motivations, determine whether they are destructive, and then choose a better path; and stop lying.