Monday, September 21, 2009

The anxiety of investing

I was reading an article in the LA Times last weekend about an investor who recently saw a big jump in her earnings. The article covered her feelings about the recent rise in stock prices and how it effects her investing decisions. What I thought was interesting was how she was so afraid, even when things seem to be looking up.

Now, we all know the propaganda about the current state of the economy, rising unemployment levels, falling consumer "confidence", etc. But to an investor, they have to act on that fear. At least they think they do.

The person in the article explained her fear in vivid details. She said that the real question is why? Why are stock prices rising with unemployment levels and record highs and the growing national debt...

It made me think of a very important point. Don't think that thoughts, feelings and emotions affect reality? Just look at the Stock Market for a minute. In a bad economy, you'd think stocks would just fall and fall, but they don't. They bounce up and down and higher amplitudes then in a good economy. Why? Because when stock prices drop, people buy, when they buy, the stocks go up. When they get too high given the state of the economy, people sell out of fear that they will drop....and they do. It's like managing the anxiety of the investor.

Now I know what President Obama is trying to do when he tries to rally people into believing the economy is recovering. He's trying to break through the investor paranoia. It doesn't matter that the GDP is coming back up, that top economists in Washington are talking about the recession being over. Even Warren Buffet is saying that the economy has finally "bottomed out". Investors like the Woman in the LA Times just want to believe in the bad news. Bad news, apparently, is easier to believe in. "Better safe then sorry" sound familiar?

In the 80's there was this great movie called Sneakers. The story was complex, but the part that I always remembered was that Organized Crime had started to work the economy. The idea was, if you could convince investors that a company was going under, they will pull their money out and eventually the company will go under. They were looking at this strategy in terms of small businesses, large corporations, small Countries...

It even works in Politics. Next time you're looking through the headline news articles, check out how many headlines end in a question mark. People are so swayed by the power of persuasion that news reporters don't even really have to report on the facts anymore. They just put the question out there and it becomes news.

I like Byron Katie's' work were you are forced to review your thoughts and ask the question. Is it true? Are you sure it's true? What if it weren't true? We can persuade ourselves that things are going great and reverse the outside propaganda. It just takes knowing that the power is real. If a news article can convince me that Obama's health care plan will run the Country into bankruptcy, then I can convince myself that that's a bunch of bull and that the economy is coming back and that my life is always improving!!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Letting go of emotions

Ever feel like your feelings surrounding something need to improve? How does that make you feel? I find myself sometimes thinking about a certain thing with fear, worry, anxiety  or some other "bad" emotion. If I'm focusing on this, I soon start to feel bad about the bad feeling that I'm having, then the feeling about that bad feeling turns to bad feelings about a bad feeling about a bad feeling and so on...

The more we focus on something, the more "real" it becomes. Thus, if we're focused on negative emotions, or even negative emotions about negative emotions, we're increasing them and pushing us further from the end goal which is usually the opposite of that.

A good quote from Abraham on the subject is "you don't need to find the thought that is causing the resistance, you just need to find the thought that isn't causing the resistance". When looking change, we often find ourselves saying things like "my biggest problem is..." or "what needs to happen is...". This can lead to an attachment that is particularily hard to let go.

Money is a great example. Most people can manifest money increases like a raise, bonus, winning, gift, or any other source. We've all done it at times in our life, sometimes without even realizing it, but try to manifest money when you really need it and it's not quite so easy. I suppose this is why so many people don't believe in miracles. It's sort of a "where were you when I needed you?" kind of thing.

The Sedona Method describes an interesting way to illustrate that. Try picking up a small object you'd be willing to let go of and hold it tightly. The longer and tighter you hold it, the more it feels like it's attached to you. If you then open your hand and roll the object around in it, the feeling quickly changes to you holding the object instead of being connected to it.

We are like that with our emotions. The tighter our grasp on it, the more we become attached to it. How often do we find ourself saying "I'm sad", or "I'm angry", or even "I'm happy" instead of "I feel sad" or "I feel angry".

As domesticated humans, we've become attached to everything around us. Whether it's the crap in my garage or the feeling in my heart, we always have a hard time letting go. In order to produce positive change, we need to first let go of all the feelings that do not serve us, then put out attention on those that do.

The final step is to surround ourselves with the feeling of what we want already being present in our lives. This method brings us to that emotional level without putting conditions out there that we can become attached to. We can get out of the feeling of "I'll be a lot happier when..." and start feeling happier now. The rest seems to fall into place at that moment.

When a football player is in "the zone" he's not thinking he should be in the zone, he's feeling the feeling of being an extraordinary football player. It's that effortless focus that gets us where we need to be. In my job I can experience the feeling of being a great engineer or excellent sales person and whatever I produce will be an example of that.

The challenge is if I have to be a great engineer in order to find a solution to a big problem, or I have to be an excellent sales person to pay my bills. Instead I enjoy being a great engineer! I love closing an excellent sales deal! I also love having my bills paid off!!!