Updated: Sep 14, 2019
Did you know that your brain believes you? In this blog article I want to explain why saying "I can't do Maths?" actually renders you unable to do Maths.
The Functions of the Brain
Did you know that your reasoning faculty resides in the left hemisphere of your brain and the creative faculty in the right? Well, the common misconception is then that that means Mathematics is a predominantly left-brained activity, but actually this is simply not accurate. Yes, Mathematics relies heavily on reasoning and deduction, which are faculties of the left hemisphere, but it is also and primarily problem solving, finding patterns and recognizing relationships - these are functionalities of the creative right hemisphere. The best Mathematicians and Scientists are not good because they can understand proofs and deduce conclusions but because they can find creative approaches and solutions, they discover patterns and make connections. The best of the best are often also incredible artists, creative writers and inventors. Think of da Vinci for example...
Why does saying "I am not good with Maths" affect my ability to do Maths?
Because, the right hemisphere of your brain, that is so vital to be able to find solutions to Math problems, cannot reason! Speech is a left hemisphere function, so if you say: I cannot do Maths, your brain believes you, and since the right hemisphere does not have reasoning capabilities, it will not attempt to argue the point or convince the left otherwise. This is the case even though it can contribute to solve problems, it will not participate in finding solutions - because it believes, you cannot do Maths. It totally has the ability to find patterns, think of creative solutions, spot relationships and who knows what else, but if you SAY: I cannot do Maths, it believes you, and will not be activated when you are faced with Mathematical problems. That means you are starting with only half a brain - the half that thinks the problem in front of you is impossible! That's like trying to cut bread and make a sandwich with only one arm - the left. It does not just take twice as long - it is almost impossible because to do it well you need both to work together.
How can I include my whole brain to do Maths?
First tell yourself (out loud) - "I can do Maths! I have a good, healthy, human brain that has all the functionality that I need to do Maths!" And Believe it! Because it is true! A very small number of people have a serious learning disability that makes them unable to do Mathematics. If you can read the time, you probably don't have dyscalculia, which means you CAN do Maths! You just had some fool tell you, you can't and you believed them, and ever since you have only been doing it with half a brain! You've probably not done to bad considering...
When you are faced with a Mathematical problem - think. Don't just look at it and expect to KNOW what to do next. Attempt it. Get it wrong. Try again. Try something else. Think about why? How? Say "I wonder...". Trial and error. Win and loose. Learn. Play. Enjoy.
Don't say "I can't..."
This principle is true for other things too. Thinking and saying that you cannot do things will render you unable to do them - for the very same reason. Stop saying "I am so bad with names"; "I cannot even draw a stick-man"; "I suck with direction"... These are usually a hemisphere dominant functionality that relies or the other hemisphere's cooperation but cuts it off because of false beliefs about your own abilities. Rather say "I can't do it yet, but I can learn..." because that is absolutely true!