Sage & Blunt: Very Vulnerable

Sage & Blunt

Dear Sage & Blunt,


How do I find more trust in myself and not be easily affected by others’s remarks and criticism? I feel very vulnerable when people jokingly criticize something about me, and I immediately try to change that. How do I consolidate my personality and self-expression according to my own tastes and preferences?


Very Vulnerable


  Dear Very Vulnerable,

To find trust in yourself, you must become someone you can trust. How do you know when a person in your life is to be trusted? They keep their word, they show up, they act with integrity on behalf of themself and others. With some variation, there are things we generally expect from people before we let them in — trust is intimacy. If you treat yourself like a trustworthy friend would, you’ll get that much closer to yourself. This is the first step.

The way you have phrased your letter makes me think you may still need to develop your tastes and preferences, which is something we do alone and with others; you need both. Decide not only what your tastes and preferences are but also what your values are. What is important to you? How do you think people should act in the world?

Your answers to these questions should change over time (experience is what teaches you your values), and they should not be so rigid as to resist any kind of challenge or reconsideration. But, you need some kind of metric to live by. How else can you evaluate the merit of any criticism? If you know yourself and you know what you value, you will take the meaningful criticism to heart and disregard the rest.

Does criticism hurt because it tends to be an accurate assessment that forces you to confront the unlikeable parts of yourself, or does it hurt because you aren’t self-assured enough to hear it? Or, does it hurt because your friends are intentionally trying to hurt you?

I mean to say stay humble, but believe in your ability to cultivate a kind of compass. Maybe the most controversial thing I will say to you, on the other hand, is that I think there are few human qualities more desirable than sensitivity. The last thing you want to be is impervious to the remarks and criticisms of others. Count yourself lucky that you’re working from this end of the spectrum rather than the other.

Finally, friends should make you feel good about yourself. Once you have begun the work of embracing your own company and carving out your truest self, you may still be left with friends whose sense of humor is basically just picking on you. If you’re noticing a pattern that is bringing you down, forget those fools. As living legend Carole King says, they’ll take your soul if you let them.

Don’t you let them, vulnerable one! Good luck out there — trust your gut.



Sage & Blunt