Dear Jedi,

How do you get a person to break away from a negative perception of a group identity to recognize their value, oft demonstrated, as an individual?

Dear Anonymous,

This is certainly a frustrating situation to find oneself in.  Whether it’s yourself, or someone you know. 

It takes courage to ask people what they think of you, even more courage to believe it.  Which is where the greatest struggle of your question comes from: The comfort level a person has to listen to the advice “Ask what they think of you.”

The most we can do, is find ways to tell the people we know are struggling that we are supportive of them.  Cultivating friendships with them to the point that they feel they can talk with us about anything, so that even if there are a few naysayers, those opinions won’t matter as much.

I learned many things in the military, but one of the most valuable lessons was that you should have friends with whom you work with.  Whoever said otherwise doesn’t really understand the value of friendship, or how difficult it is to cultivate one with people you don’t get to see often enough.