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How to make better future decisions. Deconstructing a stressful or negative event.

Have you had a negative outcome to a situation and tried to work out why? Have you also thought about how you can make a change so that it does not happen again? There is a way you can do this and here is step by step self-coaching methodology to show you how


There has been much research on how reviewing an event can have a positive effect on psychology. Observing the event, including observing your language and emotional reaction has been shown to help make changes for the future. A paper by Springer outlined here, reviewed psychology, depression and the deconstructing of events, looking at the language people use about themselves. They noticed that using abstract language and the type of language used can help people with their personal development. Observing this and understanding how YOU can make future changes for different outcomes is essential. All of this can have an effect on your psychology, level of anxiety, response to future events, and therefore the outcome of future events.


Here is a step-by-step guide showing you how!


Think of the event/ incident/ your response/ action you want to change for the future



Choosing an event you want to deconstruct is important for practice. Ideally, start with an event where you are quite sure if your response had been different, there could have been a different/ better outcome. Run through what happened in your mind. If you need to, write it down. The most important part of the memory is to remember your response and be honest with the feelings you had and the language patterns you used. The way you said things. Your body language and any other areas you can remember and notice your responses and reactions.


Also, remember and notice the other person’s response/ language patterns and body language.


Next, take the event back to the time when things started to go wrong



Think about the time when you or the other person did/ said or felt like there was an emotive incident happening within the event. Or when an action was carried out which changed the course of the outcome. The time when things started to change. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What was I feeling?

  • What did I respond to? Was it the spoken language? Was it body language?

  • Was my response useful to help the situation?

  • What did the other person respond to?

  • How did I respond back?

  • What could I have changed for a different response from that person?

  • What could I have done/said/changed to help the situation? (Think about emotive or inflammatory language patterns you may have used and/ or think about how you may have been heard by the other person).

  • How was I feeling in my body (clenching fists/stopping breathing/tensing shoulders/ clenching my jaw)?

  • How can I release this response in my body to potentially release the emotion? ( Relax hands/ breathe/ relax shoulders, relax jaw etc).

  • How do I want to change my emotion next time this happens so I respond differently?

  • What would have happened if I had released the emotion and not reacted in that way?

  • What action did I carry out following this?

  • Was it resourceful and useful or not?

  • What would have been a better/ good response/reaction/ action?

  • Which language patterns could I have used to help the situation?

  • If I had done this, what would have been better/ what might the outcome have been?

  • How will I remember to do this next time?


Remember what you need to do next time following your deconstruction



Remembering your response to this event, and then noticing your emotion as well as your language patterns and physiological response is essential for adaptive change in you as a human being.


Think about what YOU are going to choose to notice next time you are feeling a certain way which might cause an unresourceful or bad response or action. Make this your moment of choice to make a change.


Think about a decision you made to carry out a certain action, when it did not work and work out how you are going to remember this next time. Can you attach this to a memory/ word or write it down so you can remember it? Can you choose someone to help you remember as an accountability partner?


Finally, practice



If you are going into a situation which may have a similar outcome, cause an emotion to arise or where you think your action may count, choose to practice. Practice your physiological response. Practice your language patterns empathetic, understanding, and non-confrontational). Notice your breathing.


Finally notice the different, more positive outcome you have following all the changes you make. Then remember this as well. Write it down, and attach it to another positive memory. This will help you embed the new behaviour, feeling, and language pattern for the future.


Caroline Langston is the Co-Founder of Successful Consultants Ltd, an Executive, Personal and Career Development Coaching company in Hong Kong and New York. Caroline is dedicated to coaching people for performance success, wellness and happiness in their careers and lives. She is degree qualified with a Certificate in Professional Coaching Mastery. She is also a Professional Certified Accredited Coach (International Coaching Federation), has a Certificate in Team Coaching from the EMCC and further certifications in Neuro Linguistic Programming at Master Practitioner and Coach level. www.successCL.com 

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