Let’s Take a Deep Breath
“Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys.” Rita Schiano
What I’ve learned through decades of serving clients in all kinds of crises is that the flavors of adversity are many, extraordinarily varied, and unpredictable.
Without fail, what surfaces as the severity of the plight increases, is the universal and adamant belief that “it’s different this time.” I also find it curious, in light of each crisis being so abnormally unique, that a flood tide of “experts” offer their “advice” ahead of peer-reviewed, evidenced-based research. Such advice, invariably media-inflamed, can be blatantly and dangerously irresponsible.
I’ve also observed that the unintended consequences of crises, positive and negative, are many, varied, and wholly unpredictable. In the face of all the noise, the wisdom to “first do no harm” is lost in the cacophony of abject fear. Franklin D. Roosevelt was right when, in the throes of The Not-So-Great Depression, he suggested, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
I’ve also found that crises don’t make characters, they reveal them.
Unlike the variety of crises, the pattern of emotional responses to them are remarkably consistent:
• Our minds are naturally disposed to distraction. In crises, they easily and viciously loop through negative thoughts. At a primal level this reaction is about survival.
• The negativity cycles into obsessiveness fueled by fear and helplessness.
• Hopelessness is further exacerbated by stories that present variations of terrifying outcomes.
• A chain reaction begins as fear narrows fields of vision.
• As it becomes harder to see a bigger picture, positive and creative possibilities of hope vanish.
Since emotional responses to crises are somewhat predictable, theoretically those emotions are manageable — if we’re able to settle into balanced states. It’s how Jeff and I, as founding partners who still are emotionally, intellectually, and physically involved in Equius, have benefited from each other’s personalities, as wonderfully different as they are. Our complementary traits have helped us deal with decades of wild market movements that inevitably and predictably triggered a wide variety of feelings. We’ve found that expressing those feelings is crucial; acting on them can be detrimental to health and wealth. Lately Jeff and I have been talking, a lot.
In spite of the uncertainty that inundates us continuously in the throes of the coronavirus, what is certain is that a cure will be found. It’s what’s true of all crises: they end. And just as markets are viciously prescient at anticipating crises far in advance of their turmoil, markets significantly snap back well before crises end and euphoria reigns.
What also is certain is how our processes take advantage of market gyrations while we increase your well-being, a goal to which we are passionately committed since it leads to longer and healthier lives. I wrote an Asset Class about this in February, 2017. The four factors explaining your well-being are:
• Being mindful of and honoring what’s coursing through you;
• Being optimistic;
• Being resilient and bouncing back to your optimistic state from inevitable set backs; and
• Being very generous in every way you can imagine.
To you who have shared with us what the coronavirus crisis is triggering in you, thank you. It is vital we understand fully what you are processing. It also is the first step in manifesting your well-being.
The second factor in maintaining your well-being, optimism, is reflected in your portfolio’s strategic stock/bond allocation. It’s a mix we established in your discovery meeting. It defines the optimal balanced state that increases the odds of attaining all that is important to you only if we maintain that optimistic allocation through all market cycles, regardless of what caused the gyrations.
What makes most sense in responding to the startling market setback caused by multiple factors, including the current Coronavirus? Manifesting the third factor in well-being: resilience. How can we be resilient financially? By rebalancing your portfolio to its optimistic state when crises and the markets’ reactions send your hard-earned assets into an unbalanced and less-than-optimal condition. Jeff wrote about this in this month’s Asset Class.
Knowing you’ll be taking advantage of market cycles, how do you want to further ensure your well-being by engaging its fourth factor and extending your natural proclivity to be generous? Who will benefit from your largess during this difficult time?
We have taken extraordinary steps to promote the health and well-being of our stellar and devoted Equius team. We also are committed to the business continuity and financial strength of our company. Our service to you will not be affected by this crisis. Thank you for your faith in letting us do what you pay us to do. It is particularly in times of crises that we earn our fees.
While taking deep breaths with you and promoting your well-being, we look forward to appreciating more fully how you’re being and doing.
Thank you for your commitment to our investment philosophy and giving us the honor and gift of serving you.
Ever more curious, humbled, and grateful,
Equius Partners, Inc. is a Registered Investment Advisor.
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