The Trial Error: We All Do It… But Why?

So if you haven’t noticed already, I love the ambiguous titles. Hopefully when you read this one you thought, “The Trial Error… doesn’t he mean Trial AND Error.” Well, the answer to that question is no. Here’s why:

What I mean by the trial error is best explained by this dialogue:

“Johnny, don’t touch the stove. It’s VERY hot.” 

“Okay Mom. I won’t… ssssssstt OUCH!”

“Why did you do that Johnny? I JUST told you not to touch the stove.”

Still in pain, “I don’t know Mom. I just felt like I had to.”

Sometimes learning the hard way hurts.

In this situation, Johnny touched the hot stove regardless of the fact that he was warned of the consequences. In life, I find that virtually everyone, including myself, makes this same mistake. Then it dawned on me why people do this.

As we all mature throughout our lives, we accumulate different life experiences that mold us into who we are. The more experiences one has (whether simply because of age or life style), the more “mature” one is. And so, as we approach the hot stove situations in our lives, like getting into a serious relationship with the wrong person or driving 15+ mph above the speed limit, the little Johnny in each of us does it anyway. And then afterward we think, “Why did I just do that? I don’t understand…”

I believe that the answer to that question is this: If we equate experience to maturity in our society, then lack of experience is then equated to immaturity. And since immaturity has such a strong negative connotation in the adult world, no one wants it. Living a life without ever having dated the wrong person only leaves us wondering… exactly what kind of person is wrong? In addition, if that person ever wants to give relationship advice to someone in the future, how will they ever be able to show credibility. Without being able to say, “Ooohhh man, I’ve definitely made that mistake before. Watch out!” then what do we have?

THE TAKEAWAY: If you find yourself constantly ignoring the advice of others, learning the hard way, and burning your hand on stoves, then maybe its time to question why. If your reason for touching the stove is to prove to yourself that its actually hot, then maybe you should consider the consequences to making a Trial Error before you do. If having that life experience under your belt is worth it, then go for it. But if the consequences involve 3rd degree burns, I’d say stay away.

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6 thoughts on “The Trial Error: We All Do It… But Why?

  1. Wow, you nailed it again ~ real maturity comes when one realizes they don’t have to do something “just to experience it”. Life is full of challenges at every age and even though we mature as we grow up, there will always be times when even the most mature people do immature things………………because none of us are perfect 🙂

    • I totally agree. I think that mature is more of a state of mind rather than a personality trait. Hopefully, the more we stay in that state of mind, the more consistent we can be!

      Thank you for your comment

  2. What if the person is not sure WHAT their reason is that they are touching the stove? Sometimes peolple ignore advice because they believe that they should do what THEY want and what they think makes them happy however you know in the end you know it won’t. Do you let them continuosly burn their hand and hope that they learn or try a different approach to try to help make them understand.

    • I think that really depends on the situation and the person. It depends how stubborn the person is and how serious the consequences of the action are. For instance, if a very stubborn person is telling you that they want to drive with their eyes closed, the best approach would be to make them realize that they are risking their lives. In contrast, if that same stubborn person were telling you that they wanted to buy a new black jacket that you thought looked terrible on them, explaining the consequences probably wouldn’t work.

      When people ignore advice because they think they should do what THEY want and makes THEM happy, often times that is the problem in itself. THEY are the only ones in their head, and what THEY think is right in their minds could easily be considered wrong by the rest of the world. If that person says a t-shirt that they saw was blue, and the rest of the world considered it to be red, who is right? It wouldn’t be until that person saw how thousands of other people considered it to be red that they might start to reconsider.

      To try to sum this all up, the better you know that person, the better you can offer them advice. For them, it would be best to try to understand the situation from other peoples’ perspectives before taking action. That way they can judge whether they actually are making the best decision for themselves, or being foolish. Everyone knows that hot stoves burn our skin, and that that hurts. But some people will simply refuse to believe that until they have proved it to be true for themselves.

    • I agree Em. I think that innate curiosity is what has made us the dominant species on this planet. In a favorite book of mine, Drive by Dan Pink, he discusses an experiment in which monkeys were put in a room with a small contraption that, if solved, would release a treat for the them. However, before the experimenter could even go get the food to put in the contraption, the monkey had already solved it.

      I think that this curiosity that we share with our ancestors is definitely a blessing and a curse. It leads us to innovate and better our lives, but it also causes us to burn our hand on the stove from time to time.

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