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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

An Acronym that Guides us to Mental Health

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Sep 14th 2011

happyThere are times in life when things just feel a bit off. There’s some kind of imbalance going on. Maybe we’re being more snappy than usual, maybe we find ourselves wanting to be right at the expense of being happy, or perhaps we get caught up in addictive behaviors that are to our detriment. Daniel Siegel, MD is a Psychiatrist in Los Angeles and author of the Mindsight, The Mindful Brain, among others and has a great acronym that can help us gauge when things are imbalanced, it’s called FACES.

FACES stands for flexible, adaptive, coherent, energized and stable. When we’re feeling imbalanced we can ask ourselves:

  • Flexible – “Is the way I’m thinking or behaving right now flexible or rigid?”

  • Adaptive – “Is the way I’m thinking or behaving right now adaptive or maladaptive?”

  • Coherent – “Are my thoughts coherent?”

  • Energized – “Is the way I’m thinking or behaving right now giving me energy or taking it away?”

  • Stable – “Do I feel stable?”





This isn’t necessarily a process of diagnosing a condition; it’s more a model that can help us get a sense of where to aim our energies to come back to health.

For example, we might notice that we’re being rigid in the way we’re reacting to people. If we’re trying to be right all the time or get our way, this could come at the expense of healthy relationships and lead to feeling isolated or alone. If we can ask ourselves, “Is there another way I can see this?” Perhaps we can begin opening up the door of possibility.

The barrage of automatic self-judgments can be alarming at times and clearly maladaptive. They sap our energy and make others not want to be around us. When we ask ourselves that simple question, we can begin to build skills that help us get unstuck from those thoughts and begin treating ourselves better.

The truth is, we hardly ever notice when FACES is here, but we are better at noticing when it’s not here.

So, another good practice is to look at this from time to time and acknowledge when you are feeling stable, energized, coherent, adaptive and flexible. Or even if just some of these are here and not all of them, actively acknowledging this can help give you the boost to work on the others.

If you connect to this, bring it with you in daily life to simply see where it is that a little fine tuning may help out.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.


Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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