The Positive Side of Negative Thoughts

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Lauren McConachie on Unsplash

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You’ve been trained to believe the most dangerous four words for investors are: It’s different this time. I don’t agree. These four are more problematic: I want your advice.

Because I hold this view, I wasn’t about to succumb to temptation when a reader of my books called me. Here’s a summary of our conversation.

A reader needs advice

The caller expressed his extreme anxiety about the pandemic, the “disconnect” between the market and the economy, the geopolitical situation, the polarization of our country and what he described as the “inevitability” of “extreme violence” after the November elections.

He asked for my advice.

Here’s what I told him: Those strike me as very legitimate concerns. How can I help?

There was a long pause before he said: You already have.

I asked him to explain. He said: If you share those concerns, at least I know I’m not crazy.

He thanked me. We both felt good about the call.

The positive power of negative emotions

I worry a lot. When my concerns are irrational or overblown, I try to catch myself and reverse course. But sometimes my anxiety is well-founded. In those circumstances, when well-meaning friends and family tell me “not to worry,” it creates more anxiety.