Coping for Geniuses ... or
"Four Questions, Four Choices"

I call this Coping for Geniuses because this is a "Quick Start" version of Coping, which is a complicated process (it may take a genius to "get" a complex process in a quick start version).

First, came my book Sagery, which is a user's guide to the mind. (It's been called "pyschoanalysis self-taught.") In writing the Metamating Series about relationships, I digested from Sagery what the reader would need to know to understand how to cope effectively with any bad feelings about his or her partner or his or her relationship. This became Book Two of the Metamating Series.

The material about coping in Book Two of the Metamating Series is not terribly easy to read, so, we created an audio-visual version, which digested the material further, but still taught something of how the mind works.

Some readers who have taken the full audio-visual version course (Four Questions and a Map) have said, “We don’t need to understand how the mind works to cope effectively. We don’t need to understand how we are creating and distorting the thoughts that make bring us pain. All we need is to learn and practice the four questions and four choices. That's where all the value is. That process works great, and we don’t have to know why it works, or think about how the mind works.”

They suggested we leave out the Map. So, this "quick start" version doesn't even include the map.

If you need to fully understand the 'why' of everything, or if you’re curious why this coping skill is so powerful, you can read this Quick Start text and then watch the audio-visual version, or read the whole story in Book Two of the Metamating Series, which you can find on the Visionary Publications website. (If you're a real glutton for punishment, you can even read the original book, called Sagery, at Or, if you more than you get in Book Two of the Metamating Series, you can find them all on the Visionary Publications website.

This small article you're reading now will work for you, if you're a genius, OR if you simply will accept several important concepts that form the basis for the Four Questions, Four Choices. If you read the books, you’d learn each concept individually and understand them completely. If you can just accept them without fully understanding why they are true, go ahead and use this Quick Start version: “Four Questions Four Choices.”

Three underlying Concepts

• You create your own feelings

You create your own feelings — good or bad. Most people think that people or events cause their feelings, but they don’t! Feelings are created inside the mind by the way you process and interpret inputs from people and events in your life. You may have little control over the people or those events, but you can have almost total control over the way you experience and interpret them.

• You choose your own strategies

Some of the strategies you are currently choosing, get you what you want, but others don’t. “Four Questions Four Choices,” shows you how to choose a productive strategy.

• You create your own internal conflict and tension

The most common inner conflict is among the parts of your personality. Different parts want different things. If they don’t get their needs met, they can fight and argue — right inside your head. It’s called “self-talk.” Talk, talk, and more talk. One part of you may need to work, for example, while another part needs to be with your partner. The parts can fight each other, or undermine each other, or manipulate each other, until you — the whole you — feels really stressed out and isn’t happy no matter what you do. The win-win resolution of those inner parts conflicts is handled by your wisest part, so you can have more peace of mind.

Accepting the Concepts

If you can accept these concepts:

• You create your own feelings (no one makes you feel one way or another)

• Your choose your own strategies (when things don't go well, you're the one who controls the strategies)

• You create your own internal conflict and tension (your parts in conflict create stress)

… without fully understanding why they are true, then you’re ready to learn to cope with issues, difficulties, and any kind of bad feelings.

The goal of the coping process is to get relief from strong negative emotions by using your question processing mechanism. Switching from powerful emotions to answering four questions, takes you from being driven by strong emotions to using rationality and your powers of reasoning.

The Four Questions

Here are the four questions to ask yourself anytime you are thinking about something that hurts or feels bad.

1. What’s Happening?

The answer to this question simply makes you aware that you are creating some sort of bad feeling.

2. How am I creating this bad feeling?

To answer this question, you need to know how your mind works, and learn the vocabulary of the Sage Model, from Sagery. You’re going to skip this question because you’re not learning the Sage Model. Don’t be concerned that you’re missing something important. You won’t need to understand the whole of it. As long as you accept the idea that you:

... you don’t need to know how that’s happening.

3. Is this (feeling I’m creating) what I want for my life?

Some bad feelings are normal, healthy, and natural. For example, your dog dies. You want to feel the loss. You want to grieve. You’ll want to cope with the loss, but you don’t want to extinguish authentic human feelings. Most of the time, however, your answer to that question will be “no.” For example, “No. The anger I’m feeling at the moment at my partner is not what I want for my life.”

The magic and power of this question keeps you regularly in touch with your life goals and what kind of life you want for yourself. It also makes sure that the choices you make support your getting what you want in your life.

4. How can I move toward what I want in my life?

This question prompts you to look at the four wise choices and choose the one that will best move you toward what you want for your life. If you limit your choices to just these four, you can be assured of making a wise choice. (There are probably a million other things you could do in response to your bad feeling, but most of them would be unwise, and would not take you closer to your life’s goals.)

The Four Wise Choices

The four wise choices are Act, Ask, Accept, and Forgive.


You will choose to ACT when action is useful, productive, and will take you closer to your goals. For example, if you have bad feelings about an interaction you have with your partner — and we know because you’re reading this that one of your life’s goals is to have a great relationship — then you might choose to apologize for your part in the transaction that went wrong. In other words, take ACTion.


You will choose to ASK when discussion or negotiation will have a good chance to bring you closer to what you want in your life. If you and your partner have productive ‘issue’ discussions, which begin in a good place and end in a good place, and are often productive, you’ll choose to ASK frequently.

If, however, you and your partner have not yet mastered productive ‘issue’ discussions, you might ASK less often.


You will choose ACCEPT when acting and asking wouldn’t give you a good outcome. Your partner has opinions or actions that may drive you nuts, but your differences are very likely to be irresolvable, so ACCEPT that that’s the way your partner is — especially when you consider this a tiny failing in the context of all the great things you appreciate about your partner. Accepting what you can’t change is wise.


If you find something you can’t accept, then FORGIVE. Forgiveness is wise, and lots of forgiveness is very useful in making a relationship harmonious.

That’s Wise Coping: Four Questions, Four Choices

To summarize, this process of coping moves you immediately from a loop of thoughts that produces bad feelings, into a reasoning and rational mode in which you are asking and answering questions.

Anytime you have a bad feeling about your partner or your relationship, practice asking the four questions, and answering them in turn.

The fourth question asks you to make one of four wise choices. If acting is useful, you'll take action. If asking, discussing ,or negotiating is the wisest course, you'll ask. If neither action or asking will resolve the issue, you'll wisely accept what is, and if forgiveness is called for, you'll forgive the person who caused you pain.

These questions, answers and choices are not automatic for most of us. They require practice, patience, and forbearance. They will, however, lead you always to the wisest choice for you, based on what you want for your life.

If one of the things you want in your life is a relationship that lasts, these coping strategies will assure that you do your part to secure your loving relationship. If you find yourself unable to accept or forgive, you'll find the Book Two of MetaMating or the book Sagery very helpful.

© 2005 Visionary Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved