It will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me, that I am awful at math. Third grade was the year that I really started to struggle. Each day my Mom would help me with my homework. It quickly became a time of the day that I started to dread. I remember trying to focus on these complex issues that seemed to come so easy to everyone else.
One day in frustration, I threw my pencil down and pushed all the paper off the kitchen table and said, “I’m just stupid! I can’t do this!”
My Mom picked up my pencil and paper and put them back on the table and then started to write something. As she was writing she started talking to me in a gentle tone. “There are many things that I love about you that are far more important than math. You are kind, funny and smart in many other areas than math...” As her words kind of trailed off, I was looking at a huge red sign in my head that was blaring, “YOUR STUPID!” It was at this point, she showed me what she was writing. In large pencil it said,
“I, Sallie Taylor, give Jeff Taylor permission to not be good in math.”
With a smile and a hug she continued, “Here’s the deal, we are going to get you through math but there are so many other wonderful things that you ARE good at and that’s what we are going to focus on---not math” And then she had me sign it. Then she signed it.
I remember the relief I felt. It was like having a giant hall pass for math class whenever I needed it in life. I now had official permission to not be good in my math. In fact, it was legally signed.
Each of us have a “math” in our life. Something that has far less value then what we have placed upon it. These misperceptions in many ways come from the messages we tell ourselves over and over.
“I’m stupid” was mine. What’s yours? What would you write on your permission slip?
“I (put your name here) give myself permission to not be good at (blank) and rather I will focus on (blank) because these are character traits and gifts that truly define me.”
Then sign it. And if you want to further mark the moment, have someone you trust sign it as well.
As you know, I never became skilled at math and the thing I love the most about my deficit in this is area is that I don’t care.
What can you let go of today, that truly doesn’t matter to more effectively focus on what really does matter? When you bump against something that you are not good at rather then throwing your pencil and paper down, just look at the person next you and say, “It doesn’t matter, I have a hall pass”.