The only way to learn

At one point or another in our lives, we’ve been told that it’s okay to make mistakes, okay to fail, to screw up. The catch is that we are meant to learn from the mistakes, pick ourselves up after failures, and find a new path — now that we know what to do differently.

And along the way, we’ve been supported by the people in our lives that care about us the most when we take those missteps, hit rock bottom, or feel like nothing is going right. It’s our parents, our significant others, coworkers, family, teachers, and best friends. Usually those same people have words of wisdom, their two cents as to what is the right choice, or the new direction. We may not immediately agree with them or even appreciate it, but life has that funny way of working out so that about 99% of the time, those people were right.

But back to mistakes. You make them, and you learn from them so it doesn’t happen again, right? Example: You burn your hand while cooking because you didn’t use a pot holder. So next time, you use a pot holder, because you clearly don’t want to be burned again.

Simple concept, but it applies to life lessons in the exact same way. If you were burned in some way, or you made a poor decision that you so clearly wouldn’t want to repeat, you put on the pot holder before grabbing the handle, right?

But, as I continue to learn every day — not everyone uses the pot holder still, even after being burned — multiple times. And they don’t use the pot holder after being told by many people who care about them that they need it, that it would be silly to not use it. Maybe they even said that they wished someone had told them last time to use the pot holder, and yet when you do, they still dismiss you.

Then what?

It’s frustrating when you see people you love making poor decisions, and not really taking the time to think about why they’re doing it, or what they’re feeling, and working through it. They say, oh, I know, last time, that was so bad, and I know I should use a pot holder next time…but five minutes later, there they are, grabbing the handle bare-handed again. You’ve done your piece, you’ve reminded them, but to no avail. What do you do? Do you walk away and let them burn themselves? Do you stand there and watch them, waiting to say I told you so? Do you try again, but feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall?

Sometimes, it takes many burns for someone to realize what they’re doing and to figure out what they need to fix. And sometimes, we don’t want to be the ones standing around with the band-aids again…and again…and again. The bottom line is that you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help their self. In the end, the only way they may learn is to keep getting burned.


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