I was reading the March 2010 edition (it fell to the bottom of the pile) of the magazine “Employee Benefit Advisor” and there was an article, “A focus on mental fitness” that, naturally, caught my eye (for those of you new to reading my blog, I’m a student of behavioral finance). There was an interesting quote I’d like to share with you made by Dr. David Whitehouse, chief medical officer for strategy & innovation with OptumHealth Behavioral Solutions. He said, “All our human capital every single day is held hostage by our emotional brain. If my emotional brain is off today…I could be bright as anything but it wouldn’t really matter because I’m not going to be concentrating on getting anything done.” Now, I realize that this is not exactly an epiphany; we all know we can’t function when we’re upset about something. But, like most things behaviorally-related, it got me thinking about how we tackle our finances.
I had an interesting conversation with a friend and fellow business owner the other day. She shared with me that she was unable to attend meetings with her and her husband’s financial advisor because she feared becoming too emotional to discuss matters pertaining to life insurance because she couldn’t bear having to imagine her life without her beloved. I had shared that I (practically) refuse to meet with a husband (or the “money spouse”) alone, because so much of what we discuss affects both spouses, and, therefore, both needed to be present. I told my friend to go ahead and attend, tears and all, because it was important, but she was adamant he handle this part alone. Here I am thinking I’m helping the non-money spouse learn mmore about their financial position and options when I could be adding to his/her (sometimes) paralyzing emotionality. Hmmmm….
The article went on to explain a program created by OptumHealth, offered through certain EAPs, called MyBrainSolutions to help employees manage their mental health, build resilience, optimism, and help them identify their emotions so that they could manage them (and not the other way around). Being someone with “control issues”, I’m intrigued by the idea of being able to control my emotions.
When you meet with a financial planner, it’s natural to feel a range of emotions from nervousness, embarrassment, fear, hope, pride and relief. These emotions add to your experience and can even help you implement the strategies you need to grow or protect your assets, but they don’t have to control the process – unless you let them.