The next time you have a major issue in your life, once you have dealt with the immediacy and handled what is essential and urgent, take a second to reflect on how you handled the situation. How did it work out for you, how well did you cope, function, and react to what was happening and what needed to be done. The chances are – that you have handled something big and meaningful far better than a less significant issue – let’s have a look…
Dealing with a minor issue
Firstly, you are putting together a piece of flat packed furniture (not IKEA, as their stuff seems to go together really well), nothing seems to fit, a few screws get put in the wrong place, you have to rebuild it several times, you stand on (and burst) that little glue packet which is never any good, and gradually the situation builds to great annoyance and frustration. Tools fly across the room and everyone else in the household wisely stand well clear. Obviously a less than useful reaction to the challenge in hand.
Dealing with a major issue
Secondly, your child is ill, they call out to you in the middle of the night to find that they have vomited all over themselves, their bed, their floor, and are in quite a poorly state. Immediately you jump into autopilot, whatever is going on can be dealt with, and nothing phases you at all – wow, what a reaction.
Surely the big reaction should go with the big problem?
Take a step back, with a rational mind for a moment, what should be the toughest situation to deal with? A bit of flat packed furniture which will not quite go together, or a room covered in vomit and an ill child? Obviously, without any emotional attachment, as a snapshot, the DIY fiasco should be the easiest to cope with, but why is it not ?
Who is this problem really about?
Stand back and ask that question – I am making this all about me?
Take the ill child, the focus is on them, helping them, easing their woes, you dedicate yourself to others, serve them, and aim to make them feel comfortable. Whilst the situation is not perhaps awfully savoury, that doesn’t seem to matter at all, you do what needs to be done.
Turning now to the DIY frustration, this is all about you, your failure, your frustration, your inability to complete the task. Anger towards the ‘useless instructions’ becomes a vent for your anger towards yourself, the annoyance also follows that path. You start to make up stories in your head, spiralling ever onwards into greater and greater anger. It is all about you, and that is where the problem lies.
Is money the same as other emotional experiences?
Yes! In exactly the same way, decisions about money, investing and planning can also affect you in different ways.
Take an investment, if you can accept that the market is the market, and that no-one can predict the future, no clever fund manager can accurately time the markets, and that the person bragging about their ‘stellar performance’ will most likely be talking about a very short snapshot in time, then your investment journey will be far more peaceful (it is about someone or something else – the market not you).
On the flip side, trying to pick stocks, when to buy, when to sell and when to hold will lead you into the DIY avenue of frustration, anger and disappointment (now it is about you and your ego). Key to success is understanding that what happens just happens (that may not sound scientific, but it is true) in the markets, and that by sticking to a well thought out plan is wisest way not to lose money through emotional decisions.
Be it DIY, ill children, investment strategies or anything else which may cause you worry and anxiety, at Serenity we understand that it is about your whole life, not just the money. So remember, take a second to ask yourself ‘who is this about’. See if you are attaching stories to your own emotions and making them spiral out of control. It’s just about you, and most of it is made up anyway.