Learning from mistakes
Many people also believe that we must learn from our mistakes in order to grow wiser and stronger. This makes us feel more comfortable with situations in which bad decisions were made. And yes, this is often the case. We usually do learn from mistakes. Sometimes not the first time around, and occasionally also not after the second and third time, but eventually we do. On the other hand, we should be honest enough and admit that we don’t have a choice. If we’d have known right away, we wouldn’t be making mistakes at all. It’s only in hindsight that we come to the conclusion that a particular negatively felt experience made us wiser and stronger.
Something that also matters is the degree or level of negative experience. Do we grow wiser and stronger by making mistakes that cost our life? One would think not, it’d be over if that was the case. We may make mistakes that hurt emotionally or physically, but not to the extent of reaching a point of no return via death or permanent irreparable harm.
Yes, I can burn my hand on the stove and learn that way not to touch it again. However, there is a difference between temporary and permanent harm, between light and serious injuries, between just feeling unwell and a serious life threatening disease. There is also the psychological component, where experiences and the resulting trauma can be more severe than that of physical pain. This is what we need to be aware of and distinguish.
For example: The experience of rape may teach me the life lesson of not trusting every stranger. But what good is that experience when the long-term consequences are also depression, bouts of panic attacks, substantial difficulties to trust men and a lack of interest in intimacy, overall, a reduced quality of life for the rest of one’s existence?
And no matter how much this experience has thought us; most of us would prefer not making the mistakes, experience the negativity involved, if they knew the outcome beforehand. If you for example (hypothetically) already knew that your current love interest would eventually cheat on you and cause a lot of harm, it could be quite safely assumed that you would not enter this relationship in the first place. Correct?
It’s only after the experience and usually after a substantial amount of time and the associated emotional wound healing has gone by, that we may conclude that life has thought us a valuable lesson. The lesson could be not to trust as easily, not to enter a relationship as quickly, not to marry, not to have children, not to whatever it may be you think you should have done differently in the first place. However, would you have known beforehand, you would have very likely done all differently right from the beginning. So negativity isn’t really a necessity, but only a consequence we must learn to live with, if we have no choice. But do we really have no choice? Or more importantly, would our life have been less enjoyable without the hurt and pain towards the end of the relationship? The answer is a clear no. You would have rather remained in love and felt close to the person, without ever making the claim “Please leave me, I want to experience pain”. If you were after a kick, adventure or other sources of joy, you would simply pursue them. Not chose a high level of discomfort, negativity and suffering beyond your control.
Do you have to eat something every time that doesn’t taste nice in order to enjoy something that tastes nice to you or do you just simply enjoy particular foods and meals? A newborn usually doesn’t have to go through the process of eating something terrible before it can enjoy the milk or other food that is offered. It is simply hungry or thirsty and gets something that tastes at least reasonably good or at worst, relieves the tension that hunger or thirst provides. With the result of feeling temporarily gratified, until the feeling of hunger sets in again and the cycle continues.