Nick Cave is no stranger to giving young fans advice. His Red Hand Files Q+A site has seen Cave tackle many topics, from dealing with grief following the passing of his son to his break-up with PJ Harvey.

In the latest reponse on his Red Hand Files site, a 16-year-old fan called Barbara asks Cave how she should behave around other people and what she can do to improve how she sees herself.

As usual, Cave gives a lengthy, but inspiring response. He replies, "Thank you so much for entrusting me with such a courageous and heartfelt question. I took the liberty of discussing it with a number of my female friends and there was not one among them that was not greatly affected by your honesty and that did not understand exactly what you were talking about. It seems that you are not alone in finding the mirror your enemy, but you are unique in being so open and truthful about your relation to it."

The musician reveals he also struggled in his teenage years to accept his reflection in the mirror, and adds, "I live mostly in hotels these days, and as I cautiously enter a different bathroom each night, with its angled mirrors and merciless lighting, I stand before the mirror at my most defenceless and exposed, and watch it do its worst. I often wonder how much accumulated misery a hotel mirror contains as it reflects back at us what appears to be our essential self. But, of course, what the mirror projects is not our true self at all but only our reflected outer-shell. What is virtually impossible to see within a mirror is that the very essence of our humanness, our vulnerability and fragility, is the most beautiful thing we possess."

He also goes on to discuss the importance of vulnerability, writing, "But those who have no awareness of their own fragility, who present themselves as overconfident, armoured-up and invulnerable, sacrifice the essence of what makes them both human and beautiful. Vulnerability is the very thing that permits us to connect with each other, to recognise in others the same discomfort they have with themselves and with their place in the world. Vulnerability is the engine of compassion, and can be a superpower, a special vision that allows us to see the quivering, wounded inner world that most of us possess."

Cave also applauds Barbara for her strength with asking such a personal question, "Your pain-filled question holds great hope because in order to connect meaningfully with the world we need to have some understanding of its innate tragedy. Paradoxically, the fragility of your question is its immense strength and says something very profound about you as a person; something very beautiful shines through its unhappy words. That body that you ‘can’t see anything positive in’ holds within it an unusually courageous, honest and intelligent heart. Your question is a testament to your specialness, and by asking it you have touched us all."

He closes his response with some tender advice for Barbara, "Finally, you asked what you could do, how to behave. Please, take care of yourself. Seek out beautiful things, inspirations, connections and validating friends. Perhaps you could keep a journal and write stuff down. The written word can put to rest many imagined demons. Identify things that concern you in the world and make incremental efforts to remedy them. At all costs, try to cultivate a sense of humour. See things through that courageous heart of yours. Be merciful to yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be kind."

Last week Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds released their new double album Ghosteen.

Read the full response from Nick Cave on