August 4, 2023

Guilt, Shame & Unworthiness: Why Baseball’s “3 Strikes & You’re Out” Rule doesn’t align with Real-Life Struggles.


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When it comes to enjoying baseball, our enthusiasm generally falls into one of four categories. No interest at all, ambivalence, moderately interested, or passionate.

Our common ground is that most people know and love the song, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Especially this part:

“For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,

At the old ball game.”

That may be a fair rule for baseball and other sports, but I’ll tell you when it’s not a fair rule. Life Itself!

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article that highlighted the life lessons and gained wisdom I’ve learned over the years. As I looked at all the heartfelt comments left by caring readers, I noticed that there was a section in my article that consistently inspired relief and gratefulness.

“There is a parable about how many times we are allowed to learn one of life’s lessons. Mess up once? That’s okay. Mess up on the same life lesson twice? That’s okay, too. Three times? Same lesson? Like baseball, three times and you’re out.


It takes a lifetime to learn certain lessons, and sometimes we never learn them. That said, I don’t think you are ever ‘out.'”

What makes my blood curdle, my shoulders tighten, my stomach churn, and my teeth clench is the additional phrase people threw at me after they told me that I only have the latitude to learn a life lesson two times. It goes something like this:

When you have to learn the same life lesson three times, dear, then shame on you.”

There goes that word again. Shame. Sometimes I wonder if shame is the most damaging word in the dictionary.

Shame on us for being late bloomers.

Shame on us for slowly learning a lesson or never learning it at all.

Shame on us for having a hard time snapping out of our depression, PTSD, grief, or anger.

Shame on us for being sick.

Shame on us for learning our life lessons in layers and still needing all the basic themes repeated.

Shame? How about kudos and wild applause? Here’s my personal standing ovation to you for hanging in there no matter what.

Sadly, shame doesn’t allow us to take that standing ovation. It infects our soul and inflicts self-hatred. Unlike guilt, shame is a self-punishing life sentence that makes us feel that we’re hopelessly flawed, less than everyone else, unworthy, and unlovable. Shame is a self-esteem eater, and instead of encouraging personal growth and transformation, it often prevents it from ever happening.

In Brené Brown’s 2012 TED Talk on shame, she said, “Shame is that warm feeling that washes over us, making us feel small, flawed, and never good enough.”

Didn’t learn that lesson on choosing healthy relationships yet?

Didn’t learn enough about your strengths and talents to choose the work you love yet?

Still not speaking up and stating your needs yet?

Still eating stuff that’s unhealthy?

Still think you’re not as smart, good looking, or talented as everyone else?

Still not exercising enough?

Still getting stressed over the small stuff?

Still don’t pause before you react, even though you took a workshop, see a therapist, and meditate every day?

I’ll personally answer these questions with a resounding yes to at least five of them. On the positive side of my “yes” answer, I will also add that this is how we imperfectly perfect human beings learn, grow, and transform.

Gradually. Gradually, we become more mindful, awake, and aware. Gradually, we have an aha moment and a life lesson that sinks in.

Does our self-effacing inner critic always need to have the last word? Why not choose a different mindset? Why is it so hard to quit shaming on ourselves? Why can’t we stop beating ourselves up, and then that’s that? We’re cured! Healed! Whole! Nirvana!

Because it’s not easy, that’s why.

We are the product of generational patterns of unhelpful words, actions, and thoughts, inner child wounding, challenging life experiences, growing pains, personality struggles, hidden inner demons, and societal, economic, and cultural pressures.

“Shame on you. You should know better than that. Boys and men don’t cry.”

“Shame on you for thinking you should go into that career. There’s no money in it. You won’t be happy. Mark my words.”

“Shame on you for signing up for that workshop. Don’t outgrow your partner. Dumb down. It’ll be better that way.”

“Shame on you. I’m so disappointed. How could you do this to me?”

Because we’re really kids in adult bodies, these “wagging their index finger at you” admonitions continue to permeate our soul no matter how old we are. Unless we fight for ourselves and take positive action steps, we become self-tortured vessels of shame coupled with deep feelings of hopelessness.

As an intuitive life coach and a self-help author who teaches what she is still learning, here is a user-friendly healing tool that works for me both personally and professionally.

The Stop Sign Technique.

To integrate the stop sign technique, you’ll need:



A strong will.


Invite your unbridled imagination, the healing power of the visualization technique, and enough self-love and strong will to believe that there is a light-filled story on the other side of shaming yourself.

The Stop Sign Technique.

When you’re drowning in the dark sea of shame, visualize a large red stop sign popping up in your mind out of nowhere. Your uniquely designed stop sign includes a gentle and loving alter-ego, personal angel, good fairy, loving guide, good witch, or wise mentor whose face glows goodness.

Your empathic alter-ego cares enough about you to insist that you stop your momentum toward self-destruction. In its place, your healthier persona asks you to recognize your goodness and all the small and big wins you have had in your life.

If you can’t think of an alter-ego, visualize Glinda the Good Witch of the North in The Wizard of Oz flying around your stop sign and into your heart space. She is gentle, loving, kind, empathic, understanding, and compassionate and she is only there to shower you with a healthy dose of self-love.

She gently whispers to you …

“Hey, my friend. Stop shaming yourself. Just stop. It’s not doing you any good to think this way. You are not the definitions that people unjustly placed on you, and you are not the negative definitions you have placed on yourself. You are also not your past. You are so much more than this demeaning nonsense. You are trying your best and doing your best. You can’t ask yourself to be any more than that. Don’t put yourself down. Stop. Just stop. Put an end to the shaming cycle. Shift your heart toward self-love, compassion, and empathy. Breathe self-kindness into your soul and consciously make yourself stand straighter and taller than you did a moment ago.”

Made the same mistake again even after these transformational visits from Glinda? Welcome to the land of being human.

As theologian and writer, GK Chesterton said, “Angels fly because they take themselves lightly.” How about shifting your mindset to a bit of lighthearted humor while singing Brittany Spears song, “Oops! I did it again.” 

Look at personal growth and transformation as an evolutionary and revolutionary process. There is no shame in messing up. Get your stop sign out and shoo away all the labels and badges of yourself as a bad and worthless person.

You are light, you are love, and you are enough just for breathing and being. You are a child of the universe, and every day you are learning more about yourself, your history, and the reasons and silver lining behind your struggles.

Take another Brené Brown gem into your spirit:

“If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three ingredients to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in the petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.”

Despite the wisdom of Brené Brown, The Stop Sign Technique, and my life coaching pep talk, are you still thinking, “But I should be ashamed of myself. What I did was wrong.”

Ever wonder what the difference is between shame and guilt?

Shame is different than guilt. If what you did was immoral, violent, unjust, based on bias, racism, religious prejudice, ignorance, cheating, and a lack of kindness, guilt allows your conscience to carve a path toward personal growth and transformation.

A healthy dose of guilt can help you become a higher version of yourself and guide you toward a more conscious path.

Shame destroys our ability to address change, self-love, and empathy. Release shame and toss it far away on another planet somewhere while you keep singing Brittany’s song, “Oops. I did it again.”

Here are additional reminders and healing tools to help you release shame:

>> Seek out a heart-centered therapist.

>> Use the healing power of visualization.

>> Create positive affirmations.

>> Write in your journal.

>> Make a list about what’s good about you.

>> Make a list of your strengths and preferences.

>> Take yourself and life more lightly.

>> Reach out to a compassionate friend.

>> Join positive online and in-person communities.

>> Take a personal growth workshop.

>> Make time for meditation.

>> Integrate chakra balancing.

>> Remember to take healing breaths of love, light, and empathy.

Release shame from your life, stand tall in knowing that there are endless opportunities to learn, grow, and change, and if shame continues to be an issue for you, breathe in this quote by writer, Anais Nin:

“Shame is the lie someone told you about yourself.”


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