Ground yourself, to stop dissociation and emotional pain - Use this "Conscious orienting" grounding procedure to calm emotions and return become present-centered

By: Tom Cloyd - 2 min. read (Published: 2017; reviewed: 2023-02-11:1514 Pacific Time (USA))

A calm group of objects to look at

Photo by Garreth Paul on Unsplash

You can eliminate emotional disturbance and dysfunctional dissociation by creating and enhancing calm awareness of your surroundings. This simple “conscious orienting” procedure is quick and reliable. It will teach you a lot about how feelings work in our brain.

Page contents…

NOTE: Before deciding to try this or any other procedure on this site, be sure to read our Disclaimer.

Use this simple procedure to shift your focus to harmless things in your environment. This will calm you and increase awareness of your present surroundings when you are having troubles with being “spacey” (dissociative).

This happens because if you do the procedure right it moves your attention away from something that is bothering you - perhaps something traumatic to remember or think about - to a series of things that are real and yet harmless, and which demand your full awareness. The result will be that your attention will become attached to “right here — right now”. You can then get on with living the life in front of you.

Note that this very positive effect is psychological “first aid”. It is not a permanent fix for anything, but knowing how to do it does increase your set of coping skills for your present life. This will likely increase your sense of control in your life, and that is a very good thing for most people.

This procedure’s simplicity makes it easy and quick to do when there’s no one to coach you through a calming procedure. Yet, its power is more than adequate in virtually all situations. I invented “conscious orienting” to use with a highly dissociative client, but soon found that it worked reliably not only with her but with many other people who were experiencing a range of emotional and dissociative discomforts.

  1. Look around the room you are in. Locate a series of objects to look at. Plain, ordinary objects are often best. Take your time. Going slowly tends to be helpful.
  2. Pick an object you see, then give it your FULL ATTENTION. Ask yourself one or more of these simple questions about each of these objects. Don’t get stuck on finding a “right answer”. Approximate answers work just fine. Just notice the answer your mind offers in response to a question, then move on to another question. Ask yourself:
    • How many of these are there? (…if it’s a group of objects.)
    • What are its dimensions?
    • What does it weigh?
    • What might it cost to replace?
    • How many colors are there in it?
    • How far away from it are you?
  3. Move on to another object and repeat this process.
  4. Continue doing this until you are calm enough that you are ready to quit. This usually takes only a couple of minutes, at most.
  5. Pause to notice, and appreciate, the change in your state of mind that this process had produced.

Sometimes, our inner distresses are powerful enough that we need to use a procedure that is more demanding of our attention. Try this: When all else fails: Regain control with a powerful shift of focus.


☀   ☀   ☀