This morning’s markets are ugly. That is nothing new for the year. There is a good chance you are feeling pretty lousy about your portfolio and your actions, or inaction, to-date. That is completely understandable. But as I said in this podcast with Aaron Watson you should cut yourself some slack. Ravi Varghese at The Insecurity Analyst writes:

You are not your investments. Thinking otherwise puts us at risk of committing a mortal sin of investing, if we allow defensiveness to cloud our scrutiny of a prior decision.

And by the way, the same logic should apply when your investments are doing great. Congratulations on the victory – but you’re still not your investments.

If you somehow think you are having a tougher time than everyone else take a step back. Noted hedge fund manager Bill Ackman is reportedly down some 18.6% year-to-date and that does not take into account this morning’s ugliness. In short, investing is a challenge for everyone including professional investors. As Urban Carmel wrote in a post last year at The Fat Pitch:

We can summarize by saying that everyone is bad at this. No one is good at figuring out whether stocks or indices or economies are going higher or lower.

Therefore, a suggestion: let’s focus attention on ourselves and what we can do better. We can’t change what others are doing but we can improve what we do.

It is easy at times like this to turn to so-called “authority figures” like you see on CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg. This despite the fact that their track records are at best, sketchy. Daniel Sotiroff at The Personal Finance Engineer writes:

Although we seek advice and validation from others, Miligram’s work establishes a need for us to take responsibility for our own actions. At the end of the day we’re ultimately the ones pushing the metaphorical shock button. However, when we’ve knowingly done something wrong it can be very difficult to admit our errors.

No one, especially some on on TV, is all that great at investing. That is our lot in life. We humans are simply not wired for the ups and downs of the stock market. That is okay. We are however able to take responsibility for our actions. And most importantly forgive ourselves for our mistakes and look forward to better times down the road.