Overcoming Math Anxiety in Everyday Life

A famous Barbie Doll quote was something like, “Oooh, math, that’s hard.” Well, unless I’m mistaken you are not made of plastic, nor do you have “made in Indonesia” stamped on your backside. You are human with all the abilities humans possess. That means you have at least a reasonable ability to do simple mathematics.

While mathematical ability does vary from person to person, very few of us need to do the really complicated stuff so beloved of professional mathematicians, scientists and engineers. Most of us need to do things like balance a checkbook or calculate how much food to buy for a party. We can usually handle that with simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Even better, calculators and computers will do most of the dirty work for us and will reduce the number of errors we make.

If math bothers you, remember that this is an equal opportunity subject. It doesn’t care if you like it or not. If you do the operations correctly you will get the right answer. Just consider it part of life, something you need to do and *can* do. Like changing a dirty diaper or cleaning the bathroom, you don’t have to like it you just have to do it.

If math bothers you get a patient friend to help you figure out how to do the problems most important to your life. Take it slowly and be sure you learn the concepts well. Most likely you will find that the actual mathematical operations are rather simple. The difficulty may come from determining what numbers to use in your calculations and which calculations to do with those numbers.

Suppose you are planning a party and need to buy the food. You will need to know how much each person is likely to eat but that is human relations, not math. Once you figure that out, it is a simple matter to multiply that by the number expected to attend and you know how much to buy or cook. If you are doing the cooking yourself you may then want to multiply out the ingredients so you can buy them. If you need 9 dozen cookies just multiply the ingredients required for one dozen by 9 and you know what you need (though you may want to make extras just in case).

So just start doing the math you need, perhaps with the help of a friend. Don’t worry about all the myths about how hard it is, those myths won’t help you. What will help is just doing it and getting corrections from a competent friend if you need help.