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A Word about Math

A Word about Math

“Gable leaned forward. ‘Honey, there are three kinds of people: those who are good at math, and those who aren’t. Keep it simple.’ 

Nate watched the techs to see who would ask the inevitable question. Gable was floating the old conversational trick used by case officers to measure an interlocutor’s rapidity of mind.

‘What’s the third kind of people?’ asked Barnes. Bromley put her hand on his arm and shook her head.”

{Excerpt from: Matthews, Jason. “Palace of Treason.” Scribner. iBooks.  This material may be protected by copyright.}

I like math.

It has always come easily to me.  I admit there may be a genetic predisposition.  My father was a civil engineer and also taught math on the university level.

One thing I appreciate about math is its precision.  There is a right way and a wrong way to do the calculations.  And there is a right answer and a wrong answer.  If you come up with a wrong answer, you can usually retrace your steps, find and correct your error.  It is very precise, and precision is usually very comforting.

Years ago, however, I learned that the same precision does not work in the field of human behavior and interpersonal relationships.  People often make the mistake of thinking, “If I do step A, step B and step C, the outcome will always be ‘D.'”

(Or at least it should!)

The fact is, in all of human behavior, there are so many uncontrollable variables, that even if we do everything that we think is “right,” or the way we think it should be done, the results can still be disappointing, discouraging, frustrating and even hurtful.

In these “human” areas, it is essential that we learn to be flexible and open.  Open to considering other ideas and feelings different from ours.  Also, open to change when necessary.

Sadly, some have learned and believe that everything in life is either black or white.  They are so rigid and intent on being “right” (and convincing their partner that the partner is “wrong”), they can do great damage to the other person and the relationship!

It may seem an odd question, but therapists often ask, “Would you rather be right or have a good relationship?” It’s a great question, because people do not usually think in those terms.

As we age and (hopefully) mature, we can learn that wonderful relationships are possible even when we see things from different points of view and have beliefs that differ from those of our partner.

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