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Four Quadrant


The world is a place of many different things coming together which sums up the span of one’s life. It consists of things which are within our reach and things which are out of our grasp too. You learn by advancing your thoughts, your thinking capacity, and the way you shape yourself depends on that. Personally, to me, I see the world and things in my life, in different spectrums. Love and hate, emotions and feelings, anger and fear, pain and vengeance, knowledge and perceptions, and many more.

My thought process ships and categorises things into spectrums so I understand information around me better, which in turn makes it easy for me to learn. These spectrums help me grasp the textures of my life. Textures, the smooth, the rough, the feel, the appearance, the consistency, the surface, the substance, and the meaning. Everybody has a certain texture to their life depending on their perceptions, their experiences, their joys and their shadows. And I import them into a group of spectrums.

One such thought, of a spectrum, came to my mind when I started wondering around the spectrum of reality.


What is reality? I read about it online, and it says “The state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them”. Fair enough!

Reality to me is the modality which differs from what we actually want it to be. Reality to me is also the phase which is happening right now. Not before, not later, but now. Reality to me is the ugly opposite or a beautiful antonym of our dreams and imaginations. This reality is what you are living in. And how you are living in it, is what we are going to talk about. In psychology, specifically in psychoanalysis given by Freud, reality is the ability of the mind to assess the external environment and act or behave accordingly, and not upon the pleasure principle ("Reality principle - Wikipedia", 2021).

Every human being is different when it comes to how they live. Everyone gets by one obstacle after another in a different way as they grow. But having a sense of reality they are living in is the most important part of it. I have noticed in many cases that most of us don’t even know what’s actually going on in their own lives.

For example; There was this girl. She is a great student, brilliant at what she does, a good daughter, a good sibling, a good friend, a good person. Except that she is living in reality, not recognizing her own reality in which she is living. She knows that she is all the good above, but doesn’t actually recognize what or who she exactly is.

Definitions of reality states about the nature of existence. But the nature of existence doesn’t just mean breathing or our biological clock. It means that our conscious self knows what we are, who we are. That our conscious self is aware. Of our surroundings, of our environment, of our personal life, of our professional life, of us.

To me after observing a lot, what I feel is that reality is very underrated. It’s taken into general consideration like to a person reality means just existing. But if you think harder, then reality means being aware of what’s happening. Because that’s how you will know things, that’s how you will know how to tackle things, and what exactly is happening with you.

Now as we all know being aware about something is a very crucial and important process for a human being. And how you get there, defines the terms of your reality as you take one step after another. There are many ways through which you can understand your depths of reality. One such way I learnt is through four quadrants. New, right? It is!


The four quadrants work on two types of reality. One is inner and the other is obviously outer.

Some of the things that we are dealing with are external, for example, the weather for the day, our health, etc. And then there are internal things we deal with, like our feelings and motivations, our abilities, etc. We’re dealing here, primarily, with two things. That is, exploring the world outside, and exploring the second world inside. To know anything, we have to know both these worlds. We cannot know the world outside without knowing the world inside, and the world inside is interdependent and connected to the world outside. If we try to take one out of the other, both worlds will collapse. For example, you don’t know if there is going to be a tsunami tomorrow, but if there is, you should know if you’re strong enough to deal with the consequences. If there is not going to be a tsunami tomorrow, do you have the patience to stand the test of time, for all the years to come?

Internal reality of an individual according to the famous psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud is a ‘physical reality’ corresponding to a collection of processes, or representations and our own reflections. What we think, how we perceive, how we decide, our self-awareness, fantasies, primal desires.

External reality, on the other hand, also known as ‘material reality’, as said by Freud, is the objects of our physical environment, subject’s body and inscribed place in the wide, vivid society.


Observe the above quadrants, and we’ll now break them down for better understanding.

Let’s take the first row:

Known/ Logical/ Conscious thoughts are something which you know, that is, basic or general knowledge facts about the world and the surroundings. When this is taken into consideration in the outer or external reality, one needs clarity to understand their reality.

All of the known, conscious, logical world is included in this quadrant, used to measure the outside world. You can use all your learnt logic and gained knowledge to know it. But even in this known world, there are a lot of things that prove to be unknown. You don’t exactly know if the tsunami will come tomorrow. You might be able to predict it, but you can’t be sure.

Clarity basically means clearness. Having a clear state of mind regarding any kind of thought process running across your head. And the basic skills needed to achieve that in the outer reality is cognitive intelligence. To understand and to perceive, one needs clarity and cognition. For example; What is the measurement needed to make that formula? What are the theories applicable to solve this problem? What could be the tactics one needs to use to contest in the elections? Questions like these are some basic references to what clarity at a more cognitive level in the outer world could be.

If we take this concept of known or conscious thoughts in the inner or internal reality, the basic skills needed is courage. Well, we consider clarity as the main topic in this box too, but here, we need courage as an acceptance of the clarity. Often, humans are too confused, too chickened out to accept their own reality. It could be because they don’t realise what’s happening, it could be because of fear, denial, and all kinds of defence mechanisms.

We restrict ourselves by creating unnecessary boundaries around us sometimes. Of course, the human mind is the greatest restrictor of all mankind! But these boundaries we refuse to and fail to explore are what holds us back from achieving things, great things. The risk we take, the step we put forward is what helps us explore marvellous things about ourselves. It helps us explore things we didn’t even know existed about ourselves until yesterday. And that, my friend, is what helps you grow as a person. It helps clear the webs in our minds.

That is what will help you actually understand who you are. Remember the example I mentioned above about this good girl? She is good as stated by everybody but the problem was, she didn’t have a definition of herself and that’s what is more important. You should always be the one who defines you. And that girl didn’t have a sense of reality, neither clarity nor reality.

Withdrawing yourself from taking courage and seeking your clarity will only push you towards the shadows, William Blake talked about in his great Mythology telling us to seek balance. This courage we so greatly need to acquire, is stopped by many factors but as Eddie Rickenbacker said “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared”

Let us get to the second row now:

Unknown thoughts (either conscious, subconscious or unconscious), are the thoughts or questions we quite don’t know the answers to. But we interpret them and break them down with the help of trust as a basic factor in the outer and inner world.

To explore the inner world we need courage. Courage to face our own demons, to explore our own selves. To explore the unknown of the inside world, you need trust.

If we take the outer reality then we talk about love and its subsets. To explore the trust in outer reality we use love as a subject. Love is the eternal truth of life. Or one of the eternal truths of life. Rest is a lot such as death, truth, pain, hate etc.

Here we talk about things like, What could happen next year this time? Or, Where should I go for vacation next month? What is happening around the world right now? How long will people suffer in this pandemic? Here, we are showing hope of living, that we will live through now, long enough to go on a vacation. Empathy as we feel bad about the pandemic going on. We believe that we can get through something and reach a point.

Love is where we not just show trust but also empathy, hope, faith and belief. We trust the gut feelings, the intuitions and keep faith. We hope for something better and we show care to our surroundings, environment. We trust our friends, family, we trust our lover and sometimes even strangers. The basic outcome of trust in the outer world is hope and love as said by Erikson’s psychosocial theory.

That’s how we bring back essential parts of life such as, the forbidden (banned), forgotten (not remembered), and forsaken (deserted) aspects of your life back. You bring back aspects in your life which are disowned by exploring the ranges of your trust and hope. After all, “Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear hardship today”. And that is what basically helps you form trust in your life.

When it comes to inner reality, trust is more like a baby. It's something blind, yet hopeful. Like how a baby trusts his/her parents to take care of her, how a parent trusts their children to become successful in life. It’s a vulnerable feeling, yet a wonderful power. You put in your trust, your intuition, your gut into something and you make your perspectives clear. This helps you develop a sense of self.

Now, I see all of these inner and outer or whatever long lecture we just talked about in a spectrum. Where one thing overlaps with each as they have a very thin line between each other. The inner and outer depending on the person, on the situation, on the world, it may overlap from time to time. This also causes confusion in one’s life. The core concept is that we explore these textures, we explore what’s happening in our outer world and what’s happening in our inner world. And we clear out confusions as we go along the way. We grab onto the knowledge we gain about ourselves and we learn and acquire a much greater knowledge.

William Blake said, “Integrating the shadows is what helps us reach our destination of balance”.

You explore the wheel of life when you discover the bounds of awareness on your reality, push your boundaries to gain clarity, trust the inner and make hope for the outer, and when you spread the trust, belief and empathy, when you clear out who you are to yourself.

And of course, attaining that balance is important as who doesn’t want to climb up our personal Mt. Everest?


Reality principle - Wikipedia. (2021). Retrieved 13 September 2021, from


This article on 'Four Quadrant' has been contributed by Parinitha Kodali who is a student of Clinical Psychology, from Amity University, Mumbai. and peer reviewed by Bhairavi Maneesh Ponkshe who is a Psychology student from KET's V. G. Vaze College, Mumbai

Parinitha and Bhairavi are both part of the Global Internship Research Program (GIRP), which is mentored by Anil Thomas.

Parinitha's future plan is in gaining knowledge from various fields including research. Fascinated with human behaviours and space and ancient mythologies.

Bhairavi is deeply interested in basic and applied research, and is a perpetuallly curious learner who believes in science as much as she believes in literature.

GIRP is an initiative by (International Journal of Neurolinguistics & Gestalt Psychology) IJNGP and Umang Foundation Trust to encourage young adults across our globe to showcase their research skills in psychology and to present it in creative content expression.

Anil is an internationally certified NLP Master Practitioner and Gestalt Therapist. He has conducted NLP Training in Mumbai, and across 6 other countries. The NLP practitioner course is conducted twice every year. To get your NLP certification 


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