top of page

Important Steps to a Good Relationship

Updated: Aug 11, 2022

by Dr. Brenda Shoshanna (guest author)

Fear is a significant factor in relationships. It confuses our mind, undermines our confidence and prevents us from making choices that would be healthy for all. A great source of fear is rejection by others. We’ll do anything to avoid it and avoid the upset rejection brings. But the true pain does not come because someone has rejected us. It is because we constantly reject ourselves. It can be very difficult to overcome the one within which always finds fault, both with ourselves and others.

Building a Fearless Relationships With Yourself

Not aware that we have rejected ourselves, we become overly hungry for their approval. Rather than experiencing relationships as a place of safety and support, they become a place where we must be constantly performing, making the grade and pleasing others in order to receive the approval we crave.

And, when we slip up, as is completely normal, a new fear arises, that we are basically unlovable. Many fear that they’ll never be able to meet anyone’s standards or needs. Then we twist ourselves in all kinds of ways, pretend to be someone else, in order to receive the acceptance and validation we crave.

Living As A False Self Must Backfire

Of course, sooner or later, this has to backfire.Living as a false self can only go on so long. It takes too much of a toll. And when we do receive approval from others, we seldom can take it in or feel it is true. That is because first we must accept and approve of ourselves, we must make friends with ourselves, become a place of support and understanding. Then, we will not even need or crave approval from others. Especially from a false self that we are presenting to them all day long.

The Courage To Be Who You Are

Who we truly are does not need approval from others. It just requires that we stop pretending to be who we are not and rejecting our true selves. As we choose to be who we are, there is enormous relief and energy that become available. Strength and resourcefulness also arises. No matter what hardships come into life, if we have and respect ourselves, we will also have the natural ability to handle whatever comes along. We won’t have to defend ourselves from others eithers, because we have granted ourselves the right to be who we are. And simultaneously, we grant them that right as well.

Granting All The Right To Be Who They Are

To experience love and connection, to become free of fear, we must be willing to accept both ourselves and others just as we are. That is a deep act of love, respect and honor. We let go of demands that others be a certain way, and threatening to reject them if they are not. This is actually a lifelong practice, and an enjoyable and beautiful one at that. Here are a couple of exercises to get started. As you do them, you will be able to open up your innate storehouse of courage and strength.

Practice: Notice how much time you spend each day devoted to presenting a front to please others. Or saying something that is not really true for you. See how this effects you, how it drains the life and joy out of your day.

These choices harm us, keep us in deadening situations, don’t speak up about what matters, as we fear that it is dangerous to be truthful. he real danger, however, is believing this fear, not discovering and living from your truth.

What Your Heart Treasures

How many of us even know what it is that our heart treasures? How many have numbed ourselves so much we’ve blocked it out? In order to become able to be really there for another, we must first learn how to be really there for ourselves.

Self Recovery

There are many recovery groups these days; groups for alcohol, drug abuse, relationship abuse, sexual addiction, eating disorders, addictions of all kinds. How about recovery of the Self? Addictions and obsessions are fueled by hunger for the real Self, by the emptiness of life without it. Once the Self is recovered, equilibrium is established and everything else falls into place.

Living Someone Else’s Dream

In order to know who you are, you must also know who you are not, what is false and unworkable in your life, where you are living someone else’s dream. You must know what feels disturbing, fundamentally out of synch with who you are. It’s important to acknowledge that which you cannot do, that which is not for you. So many spend years of their lives twisting themselves to conform to expectations of others about who they are, that they completely lose touch with what is real for them.

Families are famous for projecting their images and demands on its members. People “in love” do the same. However, these images which are projected onto others can be lethal. They cause pain, distortion and lack of self acceptance, lack of knowing who we truly are.

You Can’t Say Yes if You Can’t Say No

This is a statement of truth and a great medicine, which needs to be deeply absorbed. Much fear arises because you are unable to say No. I am not speaking of the impulsive, automatic no you offer out of resistance, anger or stubbornness. I’m speaking of a different kind of No. It comes from understanding and accepting who you are and who are not. It comes from knowing what is true for you and what is false. This No is a sign of respect for yourself, recognition that it is perfectly fine to be who you are; you do not have to disguise, distort or reject your truth. You do not have to be all things to all people.

Many don’t know what they should say No to. They feel guilty and ashamed of not going along with everything. They feel that if they don’t meet everyone’s needs, they have failed or there is something wrong with them. Some imagine that they should be able to belong everywhere, respond to every calling. This scatters their forces and confuses their mind. By living in this manner, they lose touch with your authentic Self and cannot develop the courage to be who they are.

Practice: Stop fighting rejection by others. It doesn’t matter, is not personal.

If others reject you because you’ve said No, let them. Realize that you can’t say yes if you can’t say no. Your yes is then not a real yes. It is an automatic, knee jerk response. It arises out of obligation, and the wish to be accepted. This is not a true Yes, offered from the fullness of your being.

When someone rejects you, smile and realize, they’ve only rejected their image of you. They don’t even know the true you.

When you can say Yes, or No in an unconditional, whole-hearted manner, your relationships become established on another basis, from the truth of who you are. Then fear and pain have nowhere to hold on.


Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.d. is an award winning author, speaker, psychologist and long term Zen practitioner. Her work integrates the teachings of East and West and focuses upon how to live them in our everyday lives. She offers talks, workshops and a weekly podcast, Zen. Contact her at

If you liked this post from ZenbyBrenda, why not share it?

© 2022 Brenda Shoshanna

Recent Posts

See All


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating