One of the most primal emotions we have sloshing in our eight pound noggin is anger.
It’s easy these days. With Wall Street. Tax codes. Hypocrites & liars. Traffic. Game theory in everything. Technology killing cash cows & jobs and yet, still not moving fast enough. Politics & Politicians who don’t even know the three reasons they have for killing a department. And, of course, the gays with their impeccable sense of style.
The thing about anger is, it’s a defense mechanism. We use it to protect our sense of reality, nurtured by the cause and effect of everyday of our lives tilling toward now. Put simply, anger shows up when something doesn’t go the way we expect. So we snap.
“Mr. McGee, don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”
Boundaries, imagined or real, get pushed. So, (most) people stuff it, especially when it comes to money. I know. That trade isn’t working out? You didn’t follow your instinct, and now it’s up 30%. “ALL of your friends at the cocktail party…”, “Why is all of this trash in the market rallying, I own great companies…” I know.
Or maybe you’re still down from 2008, this is not what you expected. Your plans were for growth. And, “why can’t I just refi my mortage? I’ve been making the higher payments for 5 years now. On time. Every month.”
I know… it sits there boiling, until one day, something probably totally unrelated sets you off. Your eyes beam green, eerie music plays, and your anger
grows is unleased (along with your biceps).
I know because that’s my job. It also helps that I’m just a very angry person. You could say I have a PhD. in anger.
The thing about anger is, it’s also a gift. When Steve Jobs got angry, amazing things happened. How’d that one work out for us?
Anger is why we have a remote control, because some lazy sack got tired of walking to the TV to change the channel. See, it’s not until something bothers you that you fix it. It’s a motivator.
I remember my dad used to actually try to get me seething mad before my games. I played soccer in my youth and in college, and after 20 minutes in the car with my dad, everyone in my way during that game was a dead man. It worked. Until one day it didn’t… This kid was like 6’2″. I was not (and still am not). We were 11 years old. I went “Hulk” on him & ended up in a neck brace, laying next to my friend and his broken collar bone in the ER. I forgot this lesson a lot throughout my life… Sometimes even Hulk anger can’t move things.
And as your doctor, I’m here to warn you — anger left without proper management or an outlet is going to eventually end up somewhere, whether you like it or not.
Your portfolio is one place your anger could be showing right now. You’re holding onto what should be. Maybe your advisor should have told you. Maybe you should have listened. Maybe it should be twice as or half as much. It’s hard, I know. It’s one of the big three: health, family, money.
Here’s the thing though, stuffing anger will give you cancer. And by cancer I mean a growing ulcer that feeds on itself, destroying everything and everyone in its path, with self-imploding non-sentient being. I’m dating myself but I used to LOVE watching Donald Duck inevitably trash his whole house because that stuck window wouldn’t open. Classic. And true about stuffed anger, it’s eventually going to boil up and over the top.
That’s the thing about anger, it’s cousins with fear. A little fear is good. Fire burns. Bees sting. That oncoming train will annihilate you. But if you are paralyzed with fear, you won’t be able to move out of the way of any of them. And with anger, a little can effect positive change, until you’re too blinded to see what you can change and what you can’t. But tomorrow morning when you wake up on your couch in yet another pair of ripped pants and no shoes or shirt, you might start to realize — “maybe this isn’t working for me.”
You’re pissed off about your finances? Accept that you’re mad, open a spreadsheet & fix it. But in order to do that, you need to actually stop being angry with yourself and everyone around you for a second and look at things objectively about where you are now. That’s the key, identify you’re angry and sit with it, don’t let it wander around your head like a five year old in a candy store.
See, the Hulk never used spreadsheets because (his fingers were too big and..) he never had the faculty’s to see beyond the anger. To see that next day, that next moment. That next opportunity, for him to not get angry. Constantly mad & raging. Then leaving Dr. Banner to read about it in tomorrow’s paper. Hulk Mad. Hulk CRUSH.
So, if you’re angry about things in the market right now, or your portfolio, because your down, or missing this rally because you’re on the sidelines, or not “up” enough, or even if you’re not mad right now… As your doctor, I’ll remind to keep the one of the many “psychology of a market cycle” charts (via Ritholtz) close, checking your state of mind and overall psyche about your positions & portfolio. Because your money doesn’t like you when you’re angry. Let go of your expectations, and accept what is.
Now breathe, today’s a new day.
And Smile — Sh%t New Yorkers Say