The Art of Being Really Bad at Something

Written by: Jessica Ortner

Oops-WomanSo many books and blogs are focused on how to be better at something, but fail to share an equally important skill – what I like to playfully call “The art of being really bad at something.”

You see, to truly master something we need to be okay with spending time NOT being a master at it.

This is where many of us get stuck. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect, oftentimes unconsciously, that we don’t create the space necessary to grow. We also miss all the joy that comes from trying something new.

The Promise

Two years ago, on my birthday, I told my good friend that I wanted to become a better cook.

Sure, I could make simple dishes and feed myself, but cooking for a group of people was a different story. So the night of my birthday I promised my friend that before my following birthday, I would host a dinner party and cook for all my friends.

The year past quickly and I reluctantly scheduled the party the week before my birthday. The night of the dinner party I found myself standing in the grocery store feeling like the aisles were closing in on me. I felt completely overwhelmed. I walked home empty-handed, picked up the phone, and ordered delivery.

I made jokes about it with my friends, I talked about how busy I had been and how cooking was just not my thing.

The truth was that I broke my promise to my friend (and to myself) and I didn’t feel good about it. I wondered, “Why I am so reluctant to become a better cook?”

The Barrier

I realized that my biggest barrier was my own critical voice. I was scared of being bad at something. If I made one mistake, I would spiral into frustration and drain the learning experience of any joy.

I needed to learn the art of being bad at something!

That began by using Tapping to quiet my critical voice. I would catch my critical voice and simply tap for a few rounds as I stood in my kitchen.

Do you ever notice your critical voice when you make mistakes? Mine would say, “Ugh, you’re so stupid!” or “I can’t believe you just did that!”

I realized I was letting a mean girl rent a room in my head and it was time to kick her to the curb with Tapping.

I began by tapping while allowing that mean girl to vent. After a few rounds of tapping, I noticed that I could say those words without feeling any stress in my body. From that place, I was able to choose a better way of thinking, and actually learn something from my mistake that really helped me the next time around.

I bought a bunch of cookbooks and I began practicing my new art. And not just my new art of cooking, but more importantly, my new art of being really bad at something!

I was really good at being really bad at cooking! ☺

I burned food (and my fingers), I measured things incorrectly and even managed to catch a kitchen towel on fire.

And you know what? I loved every minute of it! By quieting my critical voice, letting go of the pressure to be perfect, and allowing myself to just be bad at something, I realized I was getting better every day!


Jess-dropping-foodIf you follow me on Facebook you know that I finally did host that dinner party and I had a great time. Was I perfect? Nope.

While enthusiastically telling a story, I managed to smack the mini apple crisp that was cooling on my counter, leading to its untimely death on my kitchen floor (picture to the right). My critical voice didn’t even show up and we all just busted into laughter!

Now I host a dinner party at least once a month.

Each time I have my friends together, I realize how grateful I am that I discovered the art of being bad at something because it gave me the opportunity to be good at it.

If I had let my own critical voice stop me I would have missed out on all these nights of having friends I love around my dining room table, enjoying a delicious home-cooked meal while creating memories that we’ll always cherish.

So I invite you to use Tapping to quiet your critical voice, and to go out and practice the art of being really bad at something!

I think I’m going to try pottery next!

How about you?

To help you get started, I’ve included a Tapping script for you to follow below.

Tapping Script to Quiet Your Critical Voice

(so you can enjoy being bad at something!)

To learn the Tapping points, go here.

Karate chop: Even though I’m really bad at this, I love and accept myself and I’m open to making this fun.

Karate chop: Even though I’m really bad at this, I love and accept myself and I’m open to making this fun.

Karate chop: Even though I’m really bad at this, I love and accept myself and I’m open to making this fun.


Eyebrow: I’m so bad at this!

Side of Eye: It’s so frustrating

Under Eye: I can’t believe I keep messing up

Under Nose: I’m so stupid

Under Mouth: It seems easy for everyone else

Collarbone: What’s wrong with me?

Under Arm: It’s safe to notice this critical voice

Top of Head: And to let it go


Eyebrow: This pressure I put on myself

Side of Eye: This fear of what others will say

Under Eye: This fear of my own critical voice

Under Nose: This pressure to be perfect

Under Mouth: It’s exhausting

Collarbone: Good never feels good enough

Under Arm: When this critical voice is in control

Top of Head: I’m ready to take my power back


Eyebrow: I can hear this critical voice

Side of Eye: And simply smile

Under Eye: Because it’s a silly little voice

Under Nose: I allow myself to listen to a new voice

Under Mouth: I’m exactly where I should be

Collarbone: I can enjoy this process

Under Arm: It’s fun to be bad at something

Top of Head: I enjoy the excitement of trying something new!


Eyebrow: There is power in laughter

Side of Eye: I laugh at my mistakes

Under Eye: I let go of any frustration

Under Nose: And hold on to the lessons

Under Mouth: I give myself permission to be bad at something

Collarbone: And to enjoy the process

Under Arm: I am patient and loving

Top of Head: I am free to just be me!

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59 Comments on this post

  1. Lynette says:

    Very useful script, thank you!

  2. Coreen says:

    That is a peal of wisdom and potential building block that is well worth remembering. Thank you so much Jessica!

  3. Rena says:

    Jess, what a great article, thank you so much for sharing this. Great reminder.


  4. ramagopal says:

    wonderful! opens new doors when I thought that I had reached the dead end!

  5. Megan says:

    Way to go Jess…this is awesome….how do we learn anything, if we’re not OK with the fact that mistakes happen and especially while we’re newbies 🙂

  6. Geneveive Reid says:

    Thank you, Jessica!

    I’ve always wanted to be a good amateur artist.

    However, on 9/6/2007, I attended my first Life Drawing session, got extraordinarily embarrassed by the naked models &, without looking at the female model, drew a Vulva as large as a big hill & overtaking the rest of her body form! I showed it to my Pharmacist, at her request, & we belly laughed with tears coming out of our eyes.

    Unfortunately, I tried again a few times & quit – my sketches were a raving disaster & I just couldn’t deal with failing miserably again.

    Now, I’m about to write to my old high school classmate, who takes the classes, & find out when Life Drawing sessions are being held for the year. This time, I’ll allow myself to be really, really bad at my sketches & enjoy the learning curve. The worst that can happen, I suppose, is that I’m not actually meant to sketch well (as I believe I am, deep down inside). This time, I won’t quit before I’ve tried & failed, tried & failed & on it goes…over a long period of time.

    With love & gratitude,


  7. beth says:

    My dear Jessica, What a stunning article! Here I am, a 75-year old retiree who has NEVER learnt to allow myself to be bad at something. Needless to say, I am reaping the results of having subjected myself to mountainous stress levels in all spheres of my life. I should have had access to such information a lifetime ago! EFT TAPPING has only entered my life with Nicks 6th Annual Summit – and what a blessing it is proving to be. One really is never too old to learn!
    Blessings all the way from South Africa – and please keep on sharing your knowledge!

  8. Val says:

    Thank you for that Jessica! It is really helpful as I am having to learn some new software to progress my business and mastering technology is a constant struggle for me x x x

  9. Catherine says:

    Loved your story Jessica. A great reminder to keep one’s options open.

    This winter, I tried a woodworking course for women. Had always been afraid of power tools, and felt totally inadequate and unable to do anything like making a simple shelf. What a blast! I loved it so much, I took the next course, and then a third. And no regrets whatsoever. I made a garden/painting/tool box, a hallway bench, and then a box for letters or keepsakes. And this was using the great big power equipment! Nothing perfect, but I am thrilled with them. So now I’m saving up for my own power drill and a small saw. And I am well past 65 years. No time like the present to try something new, or something better. Thinking of taking another course.

  10. Shirley says:

    Fabulous, Jessica! I’m having a dinner party tonight and this just fit the bill.
    Thank You!!

  11. Alexandra says:

    loved it – what’s right about me I’m not getting?!
    Laughter so good and enriching.
    Thank you

  12. Francesca says:

    Thank you, I love this! This is great, as life seems so competitive and doesn’t have to be. Life is for having fun!!!!

  13. Maxine says:

    Thanks for this Jessica! It’s something I’ve always believed but could never really find anything anywhere to back up by feeling or insight, and I want to master something in this life before I leave it. So thank you ever so much! Love the work you and Nick are doing!

  14. Paul Mein says:

    The timing of this article coming to me was just perfect. The night before I checked my email and read it, I went to bed bitter and frustrated aout not being able to play the piano as well as I want to. Now, after reading this heaven-sent message and script, I am going to enjoy being bad at piano and will just allow myself to have fun anyway. If I get any better, then that is simply a bonus! Thanks again, Jessica!

  15. Cyn T. says:

    A simple but profound idea. Thanks !

  16. Tina Shin says:

    Thank you Jessica for teaching us to tap on the thing we bad. I’m bad at speaking perfect English.
    Instead of use cooking . I used tapping to correct my speaking English. I always love to hear you speak
    or interview. You speak very very clear with a good tone of voice. I’m your big fan.

  17. LuAnn says:

    Thank you for sharing this. How often we deny ourselves the gift to experiment with doing something new. Thanks Jessica

  18. Fiona says:

    Dear Jessica. I just wanted to say a huge thank you for your cooking article” . It resonated so much with perfectionist me lol…….. So often I am so scared of failing and being laughed at I don’t try, or do it half-assed just in case lol…..(scuse the French). I am just about to put everything on the line for a house and am terrified that it won’t work out and that I will loose everything. I am going to do the tapping and words that you have put down and remain positive. I know in my heart of hearts that I can do this and every encouragement and article that shows me this I love 🙂 I joined your bro’s tapping course too. Thank you 🙂

  19. Zsuzsanna says:

    Hi Jessica
    This article is priceless. I really appreciate you and all you do.

    I have held myself back from so many things in my life because I didn’t feel I was good enough. Slowly I’m working myself through it and realizing I’m better than I thought.

    I’m so glad you overcame your fear of cooking. It’s a wonderful nurturing practice. What is almost as therapeutic as Tapping, however, is making your own bread. Now there’s a challenge that is almost as good as pottery! In fact, I’ve made many a brick on my way to stardom, lol.

    You are such an inspiring and lovely person. I am blessed to have you and your brother Nick in my life.

    Blessings to you

  20. Helene Thing says:

    Hi Jessica!
    Thanks for your wonderful article with great inspiration for the learning process!
    You are welcome to come and train working with pottery in my ceramic studio here in Denmark!! 😉

  21. Marian R says:

    Precisely because I do NOT share your fear of cooking, your post was extremely helpful to me.

    My own fear is of working on my art because I’m so tied to producing amazing pieces, so instead produce only excuses (at which I’m super prolific). To try and shake myself out of my creative block, I often read about other artists who share this SAME struggle. This reinforces my belief that sitting down at my studio desk is some monumental heroic act, and instead of learning from how they get beyond it, I’m reinforced in believing my fear is justified.

    Somehow seeing that for you buying a chicken breast and cooking it with a side of asparagus amounted to the same experience gave me a big “AH HA”. It isn’t art that’s hard at all, in fact picking up a pencil and doodling is much easier (and cheaper and less messy) than cooking. It’s purely a subjective fear that I’ve latched onto, and no more noble than any other. It’s therefore, “easy as pie”.

    I read your post, sat at my desk, and did a little sketch. Which then freed me to go dig in the garden without my daily dose of “I’m a loser because I don’t do art” criticism.

    Thank you so much! And bon appetit!

  22. Julie says:

    Thank you for the article and the script! I’ve shut down my creative artistic side, I really want to open it up but I feel so intimidated and not in the flow with it I keep on being stuck in the Not Place…I’m very grateful for this email today and this tool you’ve presented me with, I know it will help!

  23. janie says:

    This was a joy to read. I get ‘strive for progress not perfection’ yet I had not considered embracing ‘being bad at something’ as a way of getting better. Just reading the sentence “practice the art of being really bad at something’ felt liberating and I immediately brought to mind half a dozen things I can apply this to. Thank you, Jessica. It has been fun watching you blossom and grow over the past years following The Tapping Solution work.

  24. Gerrie Geenen says:

    What a lovely article and tapping script.
    Just looking at the words of the script brings a smile on my face.

    Thank you very much, Gerrie

  25. Featherjack says:

    That’s awesome! I’ll try this. 🙂

  26. Neil says:

    Most welcome. Can’t you just hear the sighs of relief!!!

  27. Tana says:

    Loved this article, Jessica ! Releasing the emotion and replacing it with playfulness and curiosity is so wonderful and positive. You have given me some great ideas to enhance my tapping practice. Thankyou!

  28. Sheryl says:

    What a great article. I love your transparency. I myself have had to many times to count that critical voice and I believe the key to making anything FUN going through the learning process makes all the difference. You are Awesome. I’m going to share this with others who need this.

  29. Dorothy says:

    Loved this. It is such a good script for absolutely everything I’m not good at and I know I will use it, probably a lot!! lol!
    Thanks so much Jessica for sharing this.

  30. Lisa Roye says:

    Jessica, you are awesome! Thank you so much for this great article and tapping script. This is a lesson I seem to have to keep reminding myself about over and over. I had a breakthrough many years ago about it, but I still find myself slipping back into the “I have to be perfect at this” mode.

    When I was just out of college at my first “grown-up” job, I was beating myself up because I wasn’t doing things as well as the seasoned pros. Then an inspirational thought occurred to me – “If I was as good as my colleagues that have been working at this job for decades, that would negate all the years of experience that they have and mean that they didn’t grow or improve at all over those years”. I realized how ridiculous it was for me to think I had to be at the same level as they were and I gave myself at least a year to match their abilities :))

  31. Deborah says:

    Your article was very good. I enjoyed it very much! I am going to do some tapping on my own for that.
    Thank you so much for sharing!

  32. Marguerite Lynch says:

    Jessica, you are a joy. Thank you.


  33. Heather says:

    Hey Jessica, you have taken a topic that has been such a huge thing in my life and made it into almost a joke…Not really a joke, just that you make it seem like a so-easy-to-handle topic. I’m 54 now, when I was in my 20’s so 30 yrs ago, I was taking guitar lessons, i was a beginner but i loved it, and told my teacher I had decided I was going to master the guitar and spend the rest of my life being a musician. He said look at Segovia, now that was really a master, and look at me in comparison, and really to touch any art is to destroy it and on and on… Can you believe it? I did believe him at the time! Well the rest is a 30 yr long story, with big ups and downs. So I appreciate your article, making it all seem so possible, and i used your tapping script, changing the words to fit my own life. Heather, BC Canada

  34. Isabelle says:

    in our western world, the first pressures on babies to be perfect in the “growing process’ we totally misunderstand, obsessed by taking weight enough, eat proteins to grow fast, are stored in cells memories even if new cells are built all the time of the growth process
    Then pressure for being independent (pottytraining…a training again) as soon as possible then huje kinestesic pressure for the writing process then…then…then…

    Our whole entire learning system except if the parents and school are CONSCIOUS, is to put pressure on the new born andon their vital energy to be ….more, more, more…
    MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF? means teaching the “Tiger process”…

    When so much pressure are already put on babies and toddlers, we teach them directly the fight and flight mode…
    We teach them that amygdalia stimulation is “life” and being relaxed is not life…

    so how their brain and heart and whole body can be built in harmony by their beautiful soul?
    Where is the space for them not to cut from their own natural Inner Connexion to their own sacred Life and Life process?

    Then tapping comes thank you to you and we have to teach to deprogram what has been programed while even the mother was pregnant and wanted to be…perfect at pregnancy

    In other spots of our planet, human beings are naturally allowed to BE…human BEINGS 🙂
    That is called LIFE

    Thank you for your excellent article
    really enjoyed it

    Health coach and Yoga Master

  35. Jen says:

    This is gold gold gold. Thank you for this in perfect timing!

  36. Doug Peck says:

    Great article and thanks for the tapping script. That really helps.

  37. Terry Delaney says:

    Great article – thank you so much, Jessica!

  38. eleanor myron says:

    It seems strange that I was tapping On this very thing minutes before I read your article and how exhausting it is to always try to do the right thing all the time. It was validating to hear you share the same concerns and the tapping words you used to describe it. Your site is very important to me. Thanks for all you share. Eleanor Myron P.E.I. CANADA

  39. Victoria Thornton, Confidence Coach says:

    It helps to remember being a kid and Everything was new. You weren’t afraid to try new things, and it was ok to just Play. When you see it as Play, it can take the pressure off to be perfect. Thanks for the tapping cues.

  40. Tamlyn says:

    Thank you, Jessica. Until I read your article, I didn’t realize how critical and self demanding I have been on myself to always be perfect. What a breath of fresh air! Life is going to get fun.

  41. Agatha says:

    Wow! What timing!!!!! I am in Guatemala learning
    Spanish and I suck and am really frustrated with it.
    This is great!! Thanks Jessica for this timely post!!!
    Sure will use it! Thanks again!

  42. Monica says:

    Thank you so much! my friends fo the messeges! I write all of this, and am going to do tapping of that: Even though I am really bad at this, I love and accept my self and Im open to making this fun….. I let go of any frustracion and hold on to the lessons, I give my self permission to be bad at something, and to enjoy the process…. i Feel much better every day, but I can forget all the bad things that I live, I feel very close to God, and he protect me always the bad things, God bless you all! and thank you so much for this messeges! love you! monica.

  43. Marilyn says:

    You have made my day! Even though I know I’m perfectionistic, I put so much pressure on myself for being perfectionistic at everything!!! As I write this, I realize, it’s Ok to be bad at being perfectionistic! I can accept myself completely and deeply no matter what! I’m off to do my tapping! Thanks for a “perfect” day!

  44. Helen D says:

    This came at JUST the right time for me as I’m struggling with some primal messages that anything less than instant perfection is unacceptable. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability. As Brenee Brown says, it’s the birthplace of compassion and connection.

  45. Frank Healy The Memory Healer says:

    Just yesterday I was telling my coworkers at lunch how I hate to be bad at anything and how it ruined dance lessons back on Wednesday March 26, 2008. I also remember the date of everything in my life. I received no support for my attitude and one coworker said “Not me I will ask for help immediately” This article was an eye opener. I tapped on it this morning. Cooking is another peeve and Jessica’s stories were inspiring.

  46. Delia says:

    It’s courageous to try new things in large part because every judges us, especially ourselves. It’s even okay to keep doing something you love and know that you may never be very good at it- like singing or dancing 🙂

  47. isabel wood says:

    love this post, i will be using this myself for everything! thank you and thanks to tapping my mean girl is nowhere near as loud, this will really help quiet her down!! Yay! blessings


    that’s a fantastic fun and inspiring article. I loved the foto and I most importantly am grateful for the tapping script you provided along with. Thank you Jessica 🙂

  49. Nadia Fay says:

    Thank you for sharing a wonderful story about how vulnerability is bravery. So appreciated!

  50. Sue Foster says:

    Hey Jessica . . . LOVE LOVE LOVE your post on being BAD at something, I so relate to that “mean girl in my head” thing . . . she has stopped me trying anything new for too many years . . . I am hitting the big 5 0 this year, so she’s gotta go !
    Thanks for the tapping routine . . . time to start DOING instead of just thinking about it. You and Nick ROCK – you are both so easy to listen to (and read) so relatable, and so FUNNY ! Loving the humour in the heartfelt.

    Keep up the good (bad) work.

    Cheers for being brave, and helping us to be brave too

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Get Instant Access to our "Releasing Anxiety" and "Sleep Support: Quiet The Racing Mind" Tapping meditations.
Yes, I agree to receive email messages from The Tapping Solution & understand that I can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy.