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The treachery of invisible math anxiety

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Getting ready for my upcoming presentation on Making Math Magical!

My brother introduced me to the term “math anxiety” while I was in high school.

When I first heard it, I felt massive relief that there was actually a term for what I was experiencing! That meant I wasn’t the only person suffering through it!

But math anxiety can mean MANY different things.

It can look like:

You’re doing everything you can, and you’re not doing well.

This is what a lot of people associate with math anxiety – despair, overwhelm, crying, puking, and most of all, failure and bad grades.


You’re doing everything you can, and you’re doing “well,” but it doesn’t actually make any sense!!

This is what I call “invisible” math anxiety.

If this keeps happening, over time…

-you become afraid that’s something’s wrong with you,

-you become afraid that you’ll never get what you need (because you aren’t getting it now and you’re already doing your best)

-and you give up on it ever feeling clear, pleasurable, meaningful, enjoyable, or a cohesive whole that actually makes sense.

You just focus on—or settle for—going through the motions.

Getting through this night’s homework.

Getting through this test.

Getting through this class.

Getting through this degree.

What’s really insidious, and tragic, about invisible math anxiety, is that it can happen very slowly and even to students who appear very successful on the outside.

Recently, over dinner, a woman shared with me how when she was growing up, she got math tutoring and made Bs, but she never really felt like math made sense to her.

The tutoring was just about getting through her homework and getting through her tests.

She wanted to be a doctor, but chose not to do pre-med in college because she was afraid of the math requirements.

Then, when she worked in retail, she wanted to be a buyer—a powerful position as the person behind the scenes who chose the merchandise—but never sought that promotion because of all the math involved.

Worst of all, she ended up in an abusive relationship, because she didn’t think she could take care of herself financially on her own.

All because of math anxiety.

And this is a B student we’re talking about — who everyone else thought was doing fine!

It doesn’t have to be that way.

I’m on a mission to shift the paradigm from “just getting through it”

to “actually understanding it and mastering it and loving it”

so you can REALLY make your dreams come true,

instead of giving up on them out of math fear.

Math is a world in which we can all belong, in which we can all experience clarity and joy.

If you sense your child is struggling with any kind of math anxiety — whether it’s the classic “visible” type, or the more insidious “invisible” type, I’d love to connect and explore how I could support your child in truly loving and mastering math.

To take the first step, just fill out my super special application here.

Once your application is received, I’ll reach out to schedule a special time for us to talk on the phone about if my work would make sense for you.

Sending you love,


Related posts:
Afraid your math teacher will judge you?
What to do when your kid’s math terrifies you
Face your fears, get a higher grade