Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

September 14, 2021
How to use basic arithmetic when relationships don’t add up

“I have thought and thought about my own actions,” Dawn Howe said while relating the pieces of a long drawn-out story of consternation.

She didn’t know it at the time, but the beginning of this story began at her small Southern Utah local airport when a private aircraft landed. Dawn and others who were meeting at the airport watched the unknown plane taxi from the runway and park just outside the small terminal. A few moments after the engine wound down a hatch on the side of the plane opened and the pilot climbed down the stairs. It was someone she didn’t know, yet would have a huge impact on the long-standing personal relationships in her life.

“This guy talked big from the moment he walked off that plane,” Dawn explained as she began to review her process of basic addition.

Dawn’s process of addition is simple math everyone of us can use when faced with complex issues in dealing with others. Dawn says she developed this approach because she “needed a way to reduce confusion” when interacting with others. You see, the pilot of that airplane began a cascading process of dividing lifelong friends as soon as he came to town.

“He began to tell us all different stories! We were trying to help him as much as possible because we wanted to believe he was a good person. It wasn’t until my friends and I got together to compare notes that we began to discover discrepancies,” Dawn said as she described the man’s use of long division. “As my friends and I compared our experiences it became clear he was using the mathematical principle of long division to separate us! That’s how I thought of using principles based on mathematical proofing to solve my own clarity issues.”

Dawn honed her own proofing process by using a similar mathematical proofing theory to reach logical conclusions and calm her emotional turmoil. Here’s how she describes her method of “proofing:”

“First, I mentally reviewed every person in detail and said, ‘What’s their track record with me?’ As soon as I had gone through this process I had a clear picture of everyone. It was like taking a stack of personal head shots and laying them on the table next to each other. That was like seeing the answer before even completing the math,” Dawn said.

“Next, I asked myself, who have I known the longest? I relied on my personal experience with more than one person, variable, in the equation and weighted each variable accordingly. I sort of labeled everyone involved and identified them by the length of my interaction experience with them.”

Finally, she asked “What has been my experience in working with each person? Then I added up all the pieces and found only one variable that wasn’t compatible with all others.  That one variable didn’t add up,” Dawn expressed with a clear sense of relief reverberating from her tone.

Her relief in finding a comforting solution is something each one of us can related to. We’ve all faced complex personal relationship issues in life similar to the one Dawn has been going through.  

“It’s amazing how confusing life can become when we’re interfacing with others who aren’t acting with honor. I like to operate on a basis of trust. That approach has worked for me very well, until it didn’t! Now I have one more tool that allows me to clear my head and see if things are adding up.”

“I also found that I could add my own actions to the actions of others, based on historical evidence, to give myself a mathematical proof for mental and emotional clarity.”

What that means is, when you’re facing numbers that don’t add because someone, or something new flies into your life, go back to the arithmetic you learned as a child. You remember it well. Two plus two equals four. Even when others try to fly other numbers around in an effort to convince you it doesn’t. Two plus two still equals four.

Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.


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