When I was growing up, there was a children’s show called “Free to Be ... You and Me.” One of the songs was recorded by former defensive lineman Rosey Grier, a member of the L.A. Rams’ Fearsome Foursome. Grier sang “it’s all right to cry” in the song about experiencing your feelings and letting them out.
I want to make a case today for the importance of allowing yourself to feel bad. There is a lot of tough stuff going on and if we don’t experience our feelings, if we simply push ahead and stay positive, I am concerned that we may suffer (in my world) serious financial consequences. Here’s why.
When we don’t allow ourselves to sit with our feelings, we have to come up with ways to move on from them. While it may be uncomfortable to acknowledge what is happening within us, by doing so we eventually move on in useful ways.
We have several clients who are anxious about what is happening politically and are reacting by buying more things online. Their underlying feelings revolve around an inability to manage their fear on the direction of the country if their candidate loses. Others have been reactive in how they view their portfolios, either afraid of missing out on this rally (even though only half the stocks in the S&P are positive for the year) or afraid that the markets are going to be disastrous. They are either overreacting or paralyzed. Rather than move too quickly to solve your discomfort, ask yourself: What is the unmet need you’re trying to fill?
For all of us, the coronavirus is causing a base level of unhappiness and loss of control that we may not fully appreciate, but it influences our behavior and how we feel about things.
Throwing money at escaping rather than understanding feelings is a temporary fix that doesn’t get to the root of the real issue. Things continue to get more expensive as you try to find ways to avoid the problem.
What if you allowed yourself to feel fully sad before you attempt to move on? Wedding postponements are sad. Not being able to connect with people in the way you want is sad. A political outcome that is different from what you hope is sad. Illness or death from COVID-19 is heartbreaking. We will eventually get through these things, because as Rosey Grier sang, “It’s all right to feel things, though the feelings may be strange. Feelings are such real things and they change and change and change.”
To not allow yourself to feel them does more harm than good.
Spend your life wisely.
Ross Levin is the chief executive & founder of Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina.