I’ve been helping my son, who’s in 4th grade, together with his mathematics — especially, multiplication. He feels like he’s a little bit behind, so we’re working on it so he can get more comfy. It’s going well now — we’ve become a routine of spending 15 minutes per night doing a worksheet or a match, and speaking through the math.
But when we first began, only a couple of weeks ago, it was much tougher. He actually resisted getting started, or engaging with it whatsoever. When it was time to begin, he would shut down, turn off, and basically do anything that we wouldn’t focus on the job.
I got a bit disappointed, because it felt as though he was being his own worst enemy — essentially making it impossible for himself to understand. This is true, I believe, but the deeper reality is that he was fearful. Not knowing things was frightful. Knowing that he might have to deal with not understanding things was scary. Of course that’s what is happening.
It reminds me a little when I was his age. For me at the moment, the thing that did that to me was composing. My mind went blank. I remember sitting with my mom at her computer, with her doing her best to coax any sort of progress from me.
Sometimes I really don’t want to open my inbox, or read that record I understand I want to read, or open that envelope in my desk. Needless to say, after I break through and do it, it is fine. But there’s sometimes a barrier of fear that gets in the way of starting anything.
What I have discovered through my job with mindfulness is that step 1 is just recognizing it. Noticing that saying and feeling,”oh, hey, there you are “. That’s the first step to being able to work through it, instead of being possessed by it.
It’s been quite a while since I’ve felt the degree of paralyzing fear that I saw in him, but now that I think about it, I understand it and recognize it.
What is deep about this to me is that sometimes what you think is the issue isn’t actually the problem. As soon as you have the ability to identify the actual problem, it’s a lot easier to discover a means through. Fear, I believe, is often the problem behind the issue, and sussing that out and working on it right can unlock plenty of situations.