“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. ” – Aristotle
Recently, I have been in a rut. I worked under the assumption that I could perform actions in our world, with an absence of self-expression – just put my nose to the grindstone with as little interaction as possible. This put me in a state of depression because I was under the constant pressure to avoid being wrong, in order to avoid confrontation. I could never come to 100% certainty that my actions would result in the intended goal, and this would incapacitate me. Since I did not want to do something wrong, I would do nothing.
However, I have come to a simple, trivial revelation: action and self-expression are inexorably linked. One logically implies the other. Whenever you do anything in this world, you are making a statement, viz. “I assume (it’s possible) this course of action will result in the end sought after.”
I argue that, on some level, most people are aware of this, and sometimes respond. Chances are, there will always be a person who will tell you that you are wrong. Most of the time, however, this person never gives any viable alternative. Its a case of diagnosis without prognosis. I say: never take these people seriously.
If you don’t assume its possible for the action to produce the intended effect, then why perform the action? All action implies ends and means. Sometimes, the end is only a mere possibility, this is called a chance, and sometimes, its difficult to know your odds. However, if you don’t work under the assumption of this possibility, then this results in no course of action.
Therefore, when a person gives you a critique, observe closely whether they give any viable alternative. If they do not, ignore their ramblings all together, for non-constructive criticism may be entertaining sometimes, but its not useful.
When attempting anything, don’t think too much about others expectations. Most of the time, you are in a situation where the person cannot give you a precise answer. Sometimes, a person is ambiguous because they don’t know the answer themselves. In an attempt to give you their best answer, you end up with an unsatisfying answer that doesn’t address your problem. Most of the time, it’s not worth trying to sort this out with the person in question, because most of the time, the person is not entirely aware of this inadequacy, and don’t want to readily admit their own inadequacies.
Instead, think: “How do I think this should be done?” Look at it as a matter of self-expression. If a person gives you non-constructive criticism, then they are providing nothing but their own statements of self-expression. However, in this case, their statements are of a negative nature, e.g. “It should not be done the way you’re doing it, but I don’t know how you should be doing it.”
No matter how strongly a person responds, unless you are physically harming them, ignore them! Don’t let them incapacitate you! Chances are, you will always bother someone, even if no words come out of your mouth. As I said, all action is self-expression. You are making a literal statement, and just like statements using words, there is always a chance that they will vociferously respond to your actions in a negative manner.