Challenge what you say to yourself. It is not unusual for math-anxious people to tell themselves statements or beliefs that increase their anxiety. Listen to what you tell yourself and challenge the accuracy of the belief.
Common beliefs that accompany math anxiety (and more realistic ideas) are listed below.
- I never succeeded at math when I was younger, so I will not now. (Actually, many adults are successful in math even if they failed miserably at it when they were young. This is due to the fact that adults have more discipline, are more persistent and usually have better attention skills.)
- If I don't understand my math lessons, or instruction completely and right away, I will never understand it. (Most people with excellent math skills have had to struggle with learning math concepts).
- I am a female, and we all know that females cannot understand math. (Although it is true that boys have traditionally received higher scores than girls on math achievement exams, the differences between the genders have narrowed considerably in the last 20 years as young girls are encouraged to learn math).
- If I fail an exam, an assignment, or a project pertaining to math, I am a failure at it and I should give up. (Again, persistence is the key to success at any pursuit).
- I hate math, and don't see that it has any purpose or relevance in my life. (Chances are, you are interested in money, and you probably have already used math in managing your money.)
- Any time I get near numbers, I feel so panicky that I can't concentrate. (Check out information on easing stress)
- I must solve math problems perfectly because there is only one "correct" procedure for solving a math problem. (Actually, there are often many ways to arrive at the correct solution for a math problem. Math instructors and textbooks often emphasize one way for solving a math problem - if you are having trouble with one method, ask your instructor to help you with another method).
- Worrying excessively about math will enhance my performance in it. (Although some anxiety may optimize performance, excessive worry is not a magical way to obtain success in math. However, hard work and perseverance will generally lead to success in math).
- I am no good at math, so that makes me a hopelessly poor student, which means I will never be a competent worker, which naturally means that I am a worthless person. (Believe it or not, this type of thinking is common).
Affirm to yourself on a daily basis that you CAN do math!! Good Luck.
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