Growing Pains

Yesterday the Dow closed at 7,100, and man, was I mad. I felt disappointed, angry, and resentful. Is it irrational to have these strong feelings about a non-human entity? You betcha. Is it a little crazy to feel like the market's "behavior" is out of line? Sure, but I would wager I'm not the only one who is re-evaluating her "relationship" with the market these days.

It feels terrible to lose money -- nothing odd about that -- but why was I taking it all so personally? The intensity of my feelings caught me off guard and I found myself pondering the relational nature of my experience. What role was I projecting onto the market, and what enactment was I engaging in? 

The closest parallel I could come up with was one of an adolescent going through the pains of maturation. I had come to expect the market to be a kind of benevolent parent. I followed the "rules" -- save your money, invest it, diversify your portfolio -- and then I expected the rest of it (the nurturing and growth of my money) to be "taken care of." 

Obviously the market is not a parent -- that's not the point I'm trying to make. And lots of people who were a lot more hands-on than me have lost even more money. 

But the growth pain that I'm going through is one of waking up and knowing that I have to be more responsible for myself. I have to do more homework. I have to make more informed decisions. I can't ever trust that my money is just going to be "taken care of."

I don't know what change this realization is going to make in my net worth. Maybe it won't change anything. But at least I will feel like more of a financial grown up living powerfully in the world, instead of a disappointed child. 


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