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Cartesian Coordinates Explained: Ask These Smart Questions!

Cartesian Coordinates Explained: Ask These Smart Questions!

What are the Cartesian Coordinates and how are they reflected in coaching and motivation? This article provides an overview of the four quadrants and how to explore each quadrant.

What are the Cartesian Coordinates?

The Cartesian Coordinates come from the work of the French mathematician and philosopher Descartes. There are four quadrants that are used in both mathematics and philosophy .

This model can be used to think out of the box, to deal with problems differently and to process information differently. You can use this model to detach someone’s model from the world. Not necessarily for solving someone’s model of the world.

Let’s take a look at the model.

These are the 4 coordinates, including examples


  • ~ means “not”.
  • A means ’cause’ or ‘subject’.
  • B means ‘consequence’ or ‘direct object’.
* AB: Converse

What wouldn’t happen if you did?

Are there others (not me) seeing a chair?

What are you not what fear is? In other words: What is not you, but what is afraid?

AB: Statement / Theorem

What would happen if you did?

This is the statement itself, it’s all about: I see (A) a chair (B).

You are feared / scared.

~A~B: Non-mirror Image Reverse

What wouldn’t happen if you didn’t?

Are there others (not me) who see something else that is not a chair?

What are you not what is not afraid?

A~B: Inverse

What would happen if you didn’t?

What is not a chair?

What are you that is not fear?

Why would you use this model of the Cartesian Coordinates?

The Cartesian question tool is a set of four questions that will help you to …

  • Finding new, hidden perspectives and feelings for inspiration and blockages.
  • To feel the pain and pleasure of achieving or not achieving a goal. So it helps to discover all the possibilities of the pain-pleasure principle.
  • The Cartesian Questions also help you to examine the ecology of a goal or decision.
  • Thinking out of the box and working inductively with problems.
  • Also great for business: The Cartesian Questions are ideal for helping with critical thinking and considering all possible options surrounding a business decision or goal!

The Cartesian Coordinates also serve as inspiration for new perspectives

cartesian coordinate perspective

It makes sense to create new perspectives. Among other things, the meta model and reframing are tools for this. The Cartesian coordinates can also be used in these tools:

You could challenge the phrase, “If you learn slower than others, it means you’re stupid,” like this:

  • Not A : “Have there been times in your life when you learned faster than others?”
  • Not B : “Have you ever experienced that you are smart?”
  • Yes A, but not B : “Do you know someone who learns quickly even though he or she is stupid? He or she is not really the brightest star in the sky, but whatever that person learns, he or she quickly learns. ”
  • Not A, but B : “Have there been times when you felt stupid even though you didn’t pay attention to your learning pace?”

When someone says, “I want to be empowered,” you can explore that statement further with the Cartesian coordinates.

  • Statement : “What are examples of empowerment?
  • Inverse : “And when do you feel that you are not in your power, so the other way around?”
  • Converse : “Have you ever seen others empowered? What did that look like?”
  • Non-mirror Image Reverse : “Have you ever seen others not empowered? What did that look like?

A common practice is to use these questions in goal setting

Simply go through all four quadrants / questions with your question.

  • What would happen if you did make that change?
  • What would happen if you didn’t make that change?
  • What wouldn’t happen if you made that change?
  • What wouldn’t happen if you didn’t make that change? (This is the mind-blowing question!)

Finally, you can presuppose – including a presupposition – what this question session has yielded:

  • What surprised you about the answers you gave?
  • What is really meaningful insight thanks to these questions?
  • How have these questions affected your motivation towards your goal?
  • What values ​​(the things that are very important to you – do you see reflected in your answers?

To your success!

About The Author


Hello! Thanks for reading these articles. My intention is to make happiness as simple and clear as posssible. By the way, excuse my English. I am not a native English speaker since I live in Amsterdam. Much appreciated if you use the comments to make suggestions on my grammar. See ya in another blogpost!