You Deserve to Feel Safe and Steady: Self Compassion and Grounding for You

self compassion and grounding techniques

Written by Dr. Paul Kelly, C.Psych.              June 18, 2024

Feeling overwhelmed by emotional pain?

  • Discover self-compassion and grounding techniques to help you heal.
  • Learn practical tools to manage difficult emotions and regain control.
  • Steady yourself and avoid making choices you might regret.


Table of Contents


Emily’s Story: Self Compassion After a Breakup

What Happened?

Emily said: “It was right after March break. My boyfriend, Alexander, broke up with me. He was so insensitive. He just sent a text: ‘Hey, I think we should break up. It’s just not working for me anymore. Sorry.’”

“I felt like the bottom dropped out. Shock washed over me. Everything seemed perfect, so why the text message break up? He didn’t even talk to me in person.”


Emily’s Reaction

“His text knocked me over. I started crying and couldn’t stop. My guts hurt. My emotions went dark. I wanted to cut myself like I did in high school.”

“I kept blaming myself, “What did I do wrong?” I felt like I wasn’t good enough. My mind was racing. I couldn’t focus. That harsh voice in my head was so loud.”


How She Steadied Herself

Emily didn’t want to cut herself. Knowing it was the wrong choice, Emily remembered the Emergency Tips Card she’d created with her therapist. She found it and taped it to her bathroom mirror.


Self Compassion and Grounding Technique 1: Cold Water Self Massage 

cold water self massage as a grounding technique

Emily started with a Physical Grounding Technique – cold water self massage.

“The tips card was in my own handwriting. I read it and started with the cold-water technique.

I filled the bathroom sink with cold water.

I used a facecloth to rub the cold water on my face and the back of my neck.

The cold water helped me to focus.

I got some ice in the sink to keep the water cold.

It was a freezing self massage.

I remembered to focus on the sensations.”


Self Compassion and Grounding Technique 2: Loving Kindness Affirmation

self compassion affirmation

Then she added a Self-Compassion Affirmation.

“I put my hand on my heart, And I said out loud to myself: ‘Emily. You are a good person. You deserve respect. Your pain will pass. Your heart will heal.’”

I used the ice water and Loving Kindness Affirmation for about 20 minutes.

I still felt raw, but I was okay.

I knew that the worst of the storm was over.

It still took me months to get over my grief.

But I did not cut myself. I am proud of that.”


After the Shock

The grounding techniques worked. Emily got through the shock of the breakup without cutting herself. She let herself feel her feelings and did not block them. She wanted to honour her grief and anger. Emily said:

“That day was the worst. Alexander broke my heart, and it took me months to get over him.

I did the Loving Kindness Affirmations every day.

My friends and family helped me.

That was two years ago.

I have a new boyfriend now. I waited to find someone who I could trust.”

Emily got through her tough year. She helped herself with grounding techniques and told me that the Loving Kindness Affirmations helped her to heal her broken heart. She also had the blessing of people who were there for her when she reached out.

Do you see a place for self compassion grounding in your own healing journey? If so, the advice below might interest you.

self compassion techniques

More Self-Compassion and Grounding Techniques

Would you like to learn a more self-compassion techniques. Here are some options to try.

1. Self-Compassion Break

This is a three-step practice. It is good to do whenever you are starting to feel overwhelmed by an emotion or an urge. The exercise is a way to comfort your inner child.

  1. Pause: Notice that you are suffering.
  2. Acknowledge: Put your hand on your heart. Say: “There is pain in me, and it will pass with time.”
  3. Offer Kindness: Say to yourself, “I deserve kindness now” or, “I give myself a kind hug.” (Try saying these phrases using your real first name.)


2. Guided Self-Compassion Meditation

Emily used Loving Kindness Affirmation phrases while she was doing the ice water grounding. Here are some other self compassion phrases you could try:

“I am here for myself.”

“I deserve peace.”

“May I be free from fear.”

“May I know my own goodness.”

“May I give myself the compassion I need.”


3. Writing a Compassionate Letter to Yourself

Take a few minutes to write a letter to yourself about a situation that is causing you distress.

Offer yourself understanding and compassion, just as you would to a dear friend.


Personal Notes

My Story: I have never had an urge to cut myself, but I have had some emotional storms in my life. Grounding techniques have helped me to find my way back to solid ground.

Confidential and True: I changed Emily’s name and other details to protect her privacy.  The rest of her story is real. She did have a big shock and she used cold water self-massage and loving kindness affirmations to steady herself.


Where To Get More Help with Grounding Techniques

Grounding techniques are great self-help first aid. Would you like to learn more about grounding? I wrote this article for you.

It will teach you more grounding techniques. Try a few. See which ones feel right for you.

Could you use some of coaching to help you feel confident about grounding techniques? It is okay to get some help from a therapist.



It is important to me that you find practical and trustworthy information. That is why I personally selected and reviewed all the sources for this article. My advice is also based on my own experience with grounding techniques and my decades of experience. I have treated thousands of clients and trained and mentored hundreds of therapists and psychologists. The grounding techniques that I recommend are used at my Clinic. We track progress, so I know that the techniques can help.

  • Gilbert, P. The origins and nature of compassion focused therapy. British Journal of Clinical Psychology (2014), 53, 6
  • Retrieved from:
  • Neff, Kristen. Self Compassion. 2024. Retrieved from:
  • Najavits, L.M. Seeking Safety: A treatment manual for PTSD and substance abuse. Guilford Press, 2002.
  • Najavits, L.M. Finding Your Best Self: Recovery from Addiction, Trauma, or Both, Guilford Press, 2019.
  • Barlow, D.H. et al. Unified Protocol for Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders, Workbook. Oxford University Press, 2018.
  • Barlow, D.H. (Editor). Clinical Handbook of Psychological Disorders: A Step-by-Step Treatment Manual, (sixth edition). The Guilford Press, 2021.
  • National Institute of Mental Health. Anxiety Disorders (April, 2023). Retrieved from: