What do maths, a brick wall and a little blue train have in common?

Nothing you may think!

Well, let me tell you a story..

Picture this, a 7 year old sits down to do her maths homework. Some weeks it is done in the blink of an eye, other times calm and harmony fly out of the window as anger and frustration take root. ‘It’s stupid, maths is stupid, it’s not fair, it’s stupid…’ and on it goes.

This isn’t a parenting blog and the thoughts in this post run much deeper than children, parenting and homework. But it was after one particularly tricky Sunday morning of maths homework that my husband and I recently chatted about our own attitude to maths (and how that influences our daughter, but that’s a story for a different blog). It got me thinking from an NLP perspective: the way we think influences our feelings, behaviours and even our abilities. We know that. That’s the science of the mind-body connection at work.

When I think of maths, I literally see a brick wall right in front of me. It’s high and wide. I can’t see anything else. And I can’t see a way around it. So I tend to not even bother trying. Moving out of my mind and into reality, how does that play out? Maths is not my strong point. I do not find it easy. I use a calculator or ask for help from my maths genius husband..

And how does Mr Maths Genius think about maths? When I asked him what came to mind when he thought about maths he said simply, ‘I can do it’. I can do it. Full stop. He is very definite in his belief and his ability. He added, if ‘I can’t do it immediately, I will work it out. I will not let it beat me’. He has a determined, can do attitude which is in stark contrast to mine: ‘what’s the point in even trying’.

When I think about literacy or French (or any other Arts or Humanities subject for that matter), my mental picture is very different to the brick wall of maths. Then I see an open hillside, where I am up high surrounded by mountain tops, dancing care free with blue sky, a gentle breeze and clean, fresh air. It is light and bright with sunshine and flowers. I have the belief there that I can do it (literacy / French etc) and that even more importantly that I love doing it.

By comparing and contrasting these distinct mental images; by bringing more of the characteristics of the positive image to the image of the matter we’ve found trickier until now; we can influence our limiting beliefs and thoughts; ultimately transforming our desire, willingness and ability to do things.

So that’s the maths and the brick wall. What about the little blue train I hear you ask?

Well, in the classic children’s story, ‘The Little Engine That Could’ by Watty Piper, the Little Blue steam engine was determined to get the toys over the mountain to the children in need on the other side. Initially she felt rather small compared to the mountain. But as she puffed and chugged up and up, she said to herself ‘I think I can – I think I can – I think I can..’ and so she did!

In all areas of life, from difficult journeys to tricky maths questions, our mindset is always the best place to start.

I’m off to knock down that brick wall and allow that sunshine through!

If you would love to transform your attitude and mindset, then please Get In Touch to work with me.

6th February 2024