F.A.N.O.S. Exercise for Self-Awareness, Connection and Communication

Close up image of two people holding hands.


  • Sit across from each other. No distractions. Eye contact.
  • Take turns sharing your F.A.N.O.S. (See each step below)

Practice listening while your partner shares his/her F.A.N.O.S. Ask no questions, do not interrupt, do not make facial expressions or body movements to convey a reaction other than compassion and understanding and presence. Listen with openness and acceptance. For now it’s just about listening and being heard. Do not have conversations about the shared F.A.N.O.S. after. Just let it settle. You will build trust, safety and good communication habits this way.

Individual Check In:

Write it out or speak it aloud.


FEELINGS: Really check in with yourself. What are you feeling? Once you feel like you’ve shared your feelings ask yourself again. What else am I feeling and share more. Stick with feeling words and use I statements.

APPRECIATION/AFFIRMATION: Practice telling your partner what you appreciate and affirm about him/her. Be creative. Don’t always say the same thing. It’s ok to name multiple if it’s authentic

NEEDS: What do you need to do for yourself and what is one request you would like to make of your partner?

OWN: Reflect on your behaviors and thoughts and take ownership of those that have caused harm, hurt, confusion or chaos to yourself, your partner or others.

SOBRIETY/SELF CARE: How are you doing with acting out with substances and behaviors that are impulsive and compulsive? How are you doing with emotional sobriety? What are you doing to take care of yourself.

None of this is to invoke shame or blame. This is all in the spirit of connection, healing and acceptance with self and/or partner/friend

Guidelines For Communication:

  1. Make sure you have plenty of conversations dedicated purely to the expression of appreciation, acknowledgement of each other, play, joy, flirting and positive memory “walks” in addition to F.A.N.O.S.
  2. Get in the practice of using F.A.N.O.S. for yourself at least 3 times a week. Write it out as it will help you access more of yourself.
  3. For now do not respond to each other’s F.A.N.O.S. sharing. You can however repeat back what you heard your partner share by going though the elements of their fanos in return and ask “did I hear everything? Or “do you feel heard.” If the answer is yes then move on to other partner sharing F.A.N.O.S.
  4. If you are feeling triggered by something within the relationship try to journal it out F.A.N.O.S. style. Maybe share it with another person with the intent of just being heard and held. Not to complain obviously and look for a “you’re right”. It’s not about being right
  5. Remember you are soul witnesses and partners as well as playmates. When you are the listener make room for neutrality, curiosity and compassion for ALL of your partners parts. See if you can bear witness without personalizing.
  6. Do you feel urgency? Sit in it. Good practice to allow for time and space
  7. Either one of you can call a moratorium if you feel unable to connect or process. When you do take this space, set a time and day that you will connect to share F.A.N.O.S. Hopefully within a day or two.
  8. Remember to use “I” statements when sharing and especially during F.A.N.O.S. I feel, I need, I would like.
  9. If you catch yourself saying something that’s more a judgment about your partner, pause. Then you can self correct. Try to bear witness to yourself while sharing not to be obsessive about how you are being perceived or what your partner may be thinking… just note whether you strayed outside the process.
  10. Crying: If the one sharing winds up crying try to just allow and keep going. It’s ok and necessary to cry. The partner witnessing the tears… just allow her/his tears. Not you’re job to fix but you can offer physical comfort later.
  11. At the end of sharing a F.A.N.O.S. you can both decide if you want physical contact or space and if someone prefers space… It’s important to investigate that within yourself. Is that fear or resentment. Usually it’s resentment first and fear underneath it.
  12. Is it ok for one to share a F.A.N.O.S. and not the other? Yes. We need to respect the privacy of ones soul but pay attention and ask yourself is it that I am withholding love and/or connection from the relationship because I am afraid or I am angry and allowing it to control me. Could it be beneficial if I push myself to share even when I don’t want to. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. That your individual choice.

Watch here for a more detailed explanation and pointers!