Nine Acronyms for Mental Health

Nine Acronyms for Mental Health

Often you need a little acronym to remind you of a path to follow. Here are nine acronyms to help your mental health. 

Over the years, I have collected a set of acronyms that have helped my mental health and those I have conversations with. These are acronyms that aid in recovery. They are like little guide posts to get you thinking.

I am sure there are probably others, but here are my contributions.

Mental Health Acronyms

  1. F.A.S.S. – No Fixing, Advising, Saving, or Setting one straight
    This comes from the work of Parker Palmer and focuses on the kind of relationship we need to offer others. In my conversations, I keep F.A.S.S. in the back of my mind as a kind of guiding light. I try not to fix, advise, save, or set the person straight. Instead, I ask gently curious questions.
    Now there are exceptions. Sometimes you need to give advice and even save if someone is seriously unwell, but these are the exceptions, not the rule. I want to ‘listen people’ into wellness and help them discover their path to change.
    F.A.S.S. challenges our need to be in control and to soothe our anxieties.Read further here. Please. No Fixing, Advising, Saving, or Straightening Out
  2. P.L.O.M. – Poor Little Old Me
    I discovered this one from Brennan Manning.
    It’s the unhealthy victim mentality. There are healthy and unhealthy victims. Healthy victimhood sees the pain of life and wants help to go through it. They take responsibility for their lives and don’t constantly blame others. An unhealthy victim has a P.L.O.M. attitude and wallows in what has happened. There is no shift in focus. If you talk to them a year later, they will still have a  P.L.O.M. in their mouth.
    It’s an attitude all of us can easily slip into, but for some, it becomes a home where they live everything out of.
    Self-pity can be seen as a season, a time which you are passing through, but if you always stay in the winter, something of spring will never emerge. Mental health comes when we accept responsibility for ourselves and do not perpetually be the victim. Read further here – 7 Steps to Help Those with P.L.O.M’s (Poor Little Old Me) in the Mouth 
  3. S.H.A.M.E. – Should Have Already Mastered Everything.
    Do you make mistakes, or are you a mistake? S.H.A.M.E. helps me understand that I am discovering and learning. Have I mastered everything? Of course not.
    It’s the ‘Should have’s’ that dig in deep into the soul. Either we say them to ourselves, or others say it to us. It recognizes the shame stones we pile up for ourselves.
    Read further here – What to Do With Shame Slingers
  4. H.A.L.T. – Hungry Angry Lonely Tired
    This acronym comes from the recovery movement and acts as a kind of warning system reminding you to pause (halt!) and take notice of what’s going on for you that makes you want to go to the pain relief strategy, such as picking up a drink or a drug.The question to ask is, ‘Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, or Stressed?’
    Then, ask yourself further questions such as ‘What are the healthy options I can choose rather than the old destructive patterns my brain is offering me?
    Read further here. What Is HALT? The Dangers of Being Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired
  5. S.T.A.N. Plan – Simple, Timed, Aimed, Negotiated
    This is a little acronym that I discovered in the story of Daniel and the plan he created to get him out of a tough situation. I often use S.T.A.N. when helping someone create a plan of action.  When creating a plan of action, I like to ask these questions.Is the plan …
    Simple to understand by all involved. It’s not complex, long, or difficult.
    Timed for review, not completion. Good plans have a time for a review to see how progress is going and if anything needs to change in the plan.
    Aimed at achieving something of deep importance. Sometimes the reason we don’t achieve the plan is because the outcome simply doesn’t matter that much to the heart.
    Negotiated with key others. Who is helping you achieve the outcomes of the plan? Have you discussed this with them?Read further here – Lessons Daniel Taught Me About Achieving Goals. Part 2
  6. E+R=O – Event plus Response equals Outcome
    We all have events happen to us, but how we respond will determine the outcome. The key to a different outcome is to choose a different response. Learning new responses to the events happening around us can bring us new outcomes.
    Read further here How to Stand Firm when the Rotten Tomatoes are Thrown
  7. A.B.T. – And, But, Therefore. 
    This is an acronym I use in my writing, similar to E+R=O. It comes from the work of Randy Olson and his study of great speeches.And these things happened
    But this was the response
    Therefore this was the outcome.

    Read further here – The ABT Framework for Listening Well

  8. B.G.E.S.C. – Brief. Gentle. Early. Specific. Consequences.
    This comes from the work of David Riddell and relates to expressing yourself to someone else when you have been hurt.

     Make your reply short. Don’t go on and on. Keep it short
    Gentle. Speak in a tone appropriate to the situation. We don’t need to yell, and we don’t need to be meek and whisper. Look at them and speak gently.
    Early. Give your reply as soon as possible. Don’t leave it till later unless you need to prepare your response. You don’t want this anger to go on and on. Paul writes,” Don’t go to bed angry” Ephesians 4:26
    Specific. Make sure your reply is specific to the issue. Don’t go on to past hurts and problems. Deal only with the current issue.
    Consequences. A good reply points out the consequences of what has happened and will happen. It is important to state how you feel about what happened. “By you doing this, I felt very sad, etc.”. You may also need to point out what will happen if they do that again. ” I have decided that if you behave like that again, then I will….” Read further here – 16 Tips When There Is Socially Unacceptable Behavior In A Group Setting
  9. J.A.D.E. = F.O.G. – Justifying, Arguing, Defending, or Explaining = Fear, Obligation, Guilt
    This is one that I have only recently added to my toolbox of acronyms. J.A.D.E. is an Al-Anon 12-step slogan that reminds us not to engage in justifying, arguing, defending, and explaining.
    When you do this with unhealthy people often they will throw something back at you that will stimulate feelings of Fear, Obligation, and Guilt. F.O.G.Often the healthiest response is to give no response at all.Read further these articles.

    Dealing with Difficult Family Members: Dont Justify, Argue, Defend, or Explain
    Circular Arguments, Emotional Reasoning and JADE (Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain)
    The Narcissist-Codependent Trap: Having Boundaries Ends the Relationship
    More Thoughts on FOG, Hoovers and No Contact When Ending a Relationship with a Narcissist, Borderline, Histrionic and/or Sociopath

    Another one, as a bonus.

  10. T.T.A.Q. = Title, Theme, Affect, Questions
    This is a useful acronym to help us understand our dreams

Always give it a title. It is a short story or movie and deserves a title. The act of choosing a title offers insight into the meaning of your dream.

What is it principally about?
This is a short phrase that describes the topic.
If it was a movie, would it be a thriller, a comedy, a romance?
Ask God to help you identify the overall theme.

What was the emotional affect expressed in it?
What were the feelings felt by the principal character in the story or movie?
Were there certain emotions expressed by others?
What feelings did you experience when you awoke?
Describe the emotional tone or impact of the dream.

What questions does the story seem to be asking of you?
The authors of this technique suggest you listen to the story as if it were a friend asking you a meaningful question. The act of formulating the question/s will give an interpretation.

Read further here – How To Prayerfully Listen, Interpret, and Understand Your Dreams

I hope you found this helpful and will be able to put some of them into action for your mental health.

Let me know if you have some acronyms that help you. Use the contact form to send me a message.


Barry Pearman

Photo by Carly Kewley on Unsplash

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