Posted in Inspiration, Tips for Students

Stop Complaining About Being Bad at Math

What do a high-school dropout and an Ivy League educated MD have in common? They can both claim to be bad at math and still be respected.

I have yet to fully understand the common phenomenon of people of all educational backgrounds decrying their lack of mathematical ability, but I’d like to say a few things about it.

You’re not helping anybody, and you’re not making anything better. You may be seeking commiseration, but you are ultimately being disempowering.

When I hear someone complain about how terrible they are at math, I politely keep a straight face while on the inside I am squirming uncomfortably, waiting for them to finish. As repellent as it is to me to listen to this kind of self belittling, I have found it to be mostly futile to try to object or put a stop to it in each individual case, so I just ignore it as best I can and wait for it to go away.

If you happen to catch yourself running this pattern, either out loud or even in your head, try to interrupt it and replace it with an empowering thought. And while you’re at it, try eliminating all other such common patterns from your speech such as “I’m bad at spelling”, “I’m terrible with names”, “I’m bad with directions”, or whatever other self put-downs you habitually spout. Rid yourself of the notion that such statements will somehow make others think more highly of you, and recognize them for what they are, stealers of your personal power and life energy. If you make this adjustment it will do wonders for your self esteem as well as boost your charisma.


Dane Dormio is an online tutor and academic coach who specializes in helping all types of students achieve life and academic success, especially homeschooled students and those preparing for STEM careers. More information and resources can be found on his website at

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