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Barton Goldsmith column: Facing financial fears

Dr. Barton Goldsmith is a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, California

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There’s no need to check your portfolio daily. Once a week or even less is just fine.
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Since the beginning of this year, we’ve seen an uptick in depression and anxiety related to personal finances, and it makes sense. When everything is going up, you’re happy, and when the value of your estate or your paycheck goes down, you feel bad. Feeling depressed, more vulnerable or even angry is a normal response.

Barton Goldsmith
Barton Goldsmith is a columnist for Tribune News Service.
Contributed / Tribune News Service

Almost everyone I know is freaking out a little about money right now. Some people can barely afford the same house they currently live in, let alone consider upgrades.

It’s clearly time to get some perspective. Many of us have been through this before, and that’s a good thing. In my lifetime, the market has always come back. This is a temporary situation, and remembering this should lift your spirits a little. It’s not the same as seeing your 401(k) grow every day, but you can’t allow yourself to feel bad every day, either. That just isn’t good for you.

There’s no need to check your portfolio daily. Once a week or even less is just fine. Like your body weight, the market will go up and down. Your mutual fund managers will do their best to curb any losses, but it’s not going to look great for a while, so why dwell on it?

If you’ve been investing for any length of time, it’s been hard not to make some money, so find some emotional balance in that fact. Likewise, if you own your own home, it’s probably increased in value over time.

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Go easy on yourself. During the good times, you experienced the “wealth effect”: You felt good when you saw your statements and you dreamed of the future and what you would do with the money. Now those dreams have been postponed or maybe even taken away, which would make anyone unhappy and nervous.

Just hold fast to what you know you have and what you know you can do. We will get through this. Everyone’s situation is different, but if you listen to your heart instead of your anxious mind, you will find some balance.

Another option is to use visualization to improve your outlook. Simply picture in your mind’s eye what it is you need or are working on. Use your imagination to picture the positive. Perhaps it’s a protective white light over your house or more zeros at the end of your bank statement. I invite you to give this method a try. It has helped scores of people, including me.

If visualization isn’t your thing, that’s fine. But if you’re struggling right now, you need to look for something to ease your fears and insecurity. What is that for you? Make a list of things that may help. Once you put something in writing, it will be much easier to accomplish.

The most important thing here is your mental state. Don’t let the bigger economic picture or the uncertain state of your personal finances ruin your life. Things will get better. Hold on to that.

Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, California, is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time." Follow his daily insights on Twitter at  @BartonGoldsmith  , or email him at  barton@bartongoldsmith.com  . ©2022 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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