Interpersonal Healing Starts From Within


By Lisa Templeton, Ph.D.



Ever hear the phrase, “you cannot truly love anyone else until you learn to love yourself?”  What does that mean exactly?  Some who really struggle with loving themselves would disagree, saying “I can love others, just not myself.”   This may be true – still, the quality of love you can give to others increases substantially when you are giving yourself love from within.


Our thoughts clearly have a major impact on ourselves and the world around us.  There is so much research now recognizing that our thoughts are electromagnetic waves that give off frequencies.  Thoughts are energy waves.  We can certainly notice when someone we love is down on themselves or negative.  We can feel it, right?  When others are negative, we know how much it affects us.  Still, it’s hard to understand how our choices in thought and our own negativity may affect others in our lives and ultimately in our relationships. 


What happens when someone you are close with is negative?  How do you cope with it?  Does it bring you closer to that person, or farther away?  My guess is farther away.  It takes a lot of compassion and love to stay close to someone expressing negative energy.  With this understanding, it stands to reason that we would want to remember that and focus on working on cultivating positivity, peace and love in our minds.   Being kind and compassionate to ourselves gives off an incredibly strong vibration that really has a wonderful impact on not only ourselves, but the world as a whole.  Gandhi was correct when he talked about changing the world from within.


Sure we are going to be negative at times – it’s not easy to regulate our moods and states of mind, not to mention coping with all the things life throws at us.  These moments provide us practice for being kind to ourselves.  When we make a mistake, can we love ourselves?  If we get negative and feel totally irritated and shut off, can we change our mind and bring love into our hearts?  Can we change the frequencies of our energy to help ourselves and others around us?


Many experts on the brain our finding that in the evolution of humans there is a negativity bias in the brain (Hansen, 2009).  Humans have worked hard to avoid negative stimuli in the world and thus, work to try to control this.  This bias leads us to focus more on possible negative consequences and do our best to try to avoid any negative stimuli and the negative emotions that come with it.  How many of us have said things we didn’t mean to those we love or got defensive with someone we love because we didn’t want to get hurt?  If we can take notice of what we are saying to ourselves, it might help us understand how we project this pain into the world and into our relationships.


So if the key to healing our relationships with others is to work on healing our relationship with ourselves, how do we do that?  First of all, ask yourself – how am I speaking to myself in my head?  What is my relationship with myself?  Why might I give the benefit of the doubt to someone else, but not myself?  What is so different about me that I don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt? 


 In my opinion, we are all equal – the love and understanding you might give others for a mistake or a negative vibe is love and understanding that you need to give to yourself.   If you find that you are speaking unkindly to yourself, don’t judge yourself for it.  Consider what you might say to someone you love in the same situation.  Reframe your inner thoughts to reflect that and continue to practice, practice, practice!  This won’t change overnight, but it will start to show an impact on you and your world.


Some people use others as a distraction from themselves.  They focus on the wrongs of others and their badness, while unable to redirect their attention back to their inner world.  This is a very common coping strategy found in society.  If you find that you are doing this, use your judgments about others to alert you that you need to focus within.  Consider your thoughts about yourself in the moment.  What would you say to yourself as a child? What would you say to your own child?  Work on finding statements that allow you to cope with your emotions differently.


Remember - our thoughts become a conditioned pattern of behaving and we cannot change something that we are not aware of.  Work on becoming aware of your thoughts that are unkind to yourself.  Notice them without judgment and remind yourself that you are working to shift this dynamic.  If you fall back into your old conditioning with negative thoughts about yourself, catch it and reframe it to yourself.  If you are not sure of something positive to say to yourself, don’t stress about it.  If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.  You can simply say – “I’m not sure what to say right now, and I’m working on it.”


Consider some positive aspects of yourself.  What do you like about you?  Make a list and keep it nearby so you can consult it when you are struggling with saying something nice and finding the good in yourself.    In time, you will start to see the change in your intrapersonal (relationship with self) healing, as well as your interpersonal (relationship with others) healing.  We must work from the inside out.


Be well and stay mindful!




Hanson, R., (2009).  Buddha's Brain: The practical neuroscience of happiness, love and wisdom.  New Harbinger Publications, Inc., Oakland, CA