The story we tell ourselves


I’m a worrier. That means that I have the ability to worry myself into building something small into something big in my head, and then believing it as true, or at least truer than anything else.

For instance, just as a wild example, let’s say my kitchen tap starts to leak. After changing washers, it continued to leak – not very badly, but still there. If I let myself, I could begin to wonder how bad that leak could get, and under what conditions it might cause major problems – say, something gets stuck somewhere that causes a build-up in pressure; then I decide to go away for 3 weeks, and just in that time, it blows. By the time I get home, there’s major damage.

That could happen, but it’s really very unlikely. And yet, dwelling on this worst-case scenario has turned it, in my mind, from tiny and remote, to huge and probable.

I no longer worry like that, but I know a lot of us do, especially in these uncertain times. And there’s reason for it: while I’m worrying about that tap blowing, I don’t have time to dwell on things I’d rather not think about. It keeps that busy mind of mine occupied, and in a kind of weird way, entertained.

It’s a story I tell myself.

Here’s a different story: The tap begins to leak. I fix it and it still leaks. I call the plumber, and he installs a new tap.  End of problem.

In the first story, I’m kind of helpless in the face of things happening beyond my control. In the second, I’m the one in control. I like the second story better. Less drama, though.



If you like this blog, you’ll also like my newsletters. It’s written only for my insiders who sign up, and provides weekly insights, not only from me, but from others I admire.

To sign up  for my insider newsletter, click here. If you find it doesn’t work for you, all you have to do to unsubscribe is click on the link at the bottom of the newsletter.

Looking forward to welcoming you to my growing list of insiders!



Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *