Emotional discipline is the ability to stick with a plan or a strategy amid the occasional chaos that the world dishes out. It’s essential to long-term investment success.

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Americans have had a tough time keeping their emotions in check lately.

The surprising results of the election, after a contentious campaign that rubbed emotions raw now leaves many investors — even those who are thrilled with the outcome of the vote — a hair-trigger away from making radical portfolio moves.

It’s a reaction to the constant barrage of the media, the seemingly endless stream of conjecture and what-ifs about markets, sectors, individual industries, tax policies, interest rates, inflation and more.

It’s the result of additional optimism and bullishness for the winners, and heightened bearishness and pessimism for the losers.

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The reaction is normal for investors faced with uncertainty, it’s just more widespread now because this situation hits home, rather than watching events in places like Great Britain, Greece, Portugal or China that have similar potential to rattle markets but that lack the home-field disadvantage of the election happening in our own front yard.

Still, the solution for investors is the same as through any times of tumult and anxiety: Emotional discipline.

Emotional discipline is the ability to stick with a plan or a strategy amid the occasional chaos that the world dishes out. It’s essential to long-term investment success.

It’s more than intestinal fortitude, because it takes guts to ignore your gut feelings when both your head and your heartburn say it’s time to make change.

It’s the quality that most consumers are actually seeking out when they work with a financial adviser.

While people hire advisers for investment counsel — and often believe they need a planner to give them superior investment ideas — the reality is that they want the ability to come up with and stick to a plan. Picking good investments isn’t that hard; sticking with them when conditions make you queasy is.

Plenty of things are working against maintaining emotional discipline right now, particularly for people disappointed in the election results.

Richard Geist, head of the Institute on the Psychology of Investing, noted that many people see the results of the election as the equivalent of a trauma.

“Trauma makes the glue that holds us together soften and we feel 1) more fragmented and 2) we lose our sense of time,” Geist explained, noting that it makes us more vulnerable to rumors and innuendo — especially anything promising disaster — because it “invades us more easily because all of our parts are not glued together as strongly.”

“When we lose our sense of time,” he added, “we feel the need to act quickly. If investors can realize what the dangers are, they are more able to stick to their investing plan and not act precipitously.”

That means revisiting the plan and making sure it’s still appropriate.

John Nofsinger, a behavioral-finance expert who teaches at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, noted that changing portfolios based on headlines and predictions usually doesn’t turn out well.

“Most predictions we have heard about our future have turned out wrong,” said Nofsinger. “Clinton did not win, and the stock market did not plummet.

“The pundits don’t predict the future any better than we do, they just seem more confident about it,” he added.

There, again, is the emotional-discipline factor.

Richard Peterson of MarketPsych data noted that sticking with long-term plans through headlines and noise can require “reframing and perspective shifting,” finding alternative thinking to what creates your current fears.

For example, he noted, “Instead of being afraid of what a Trump presidency could mean for solar stocks, think about how selling out now — when solar is already a bit depressed — could mean to missing out on longer-term gains. In this case, we’re shifting from the fear of losing more to the fear of losing out.”

Peterson said that finding the right perspective requires long-term thinking.

Donald MacGregor, of MacGregor-Bates, which researches investor judgment and decision-making, added that investors need to avoid “overselling” in their portfolios. “Don’t chase new stocks just because it feels good to find havens from your emotional hits,” MacGregor said. “You’re just as likely to get rid of a stock that experiences a big upturn in a week or a month as you are to exchange it in favor of a rising stock that tanks in the same period.”

Behavioral-finance experts note that while the current situation feels different and unique, the broad circumstances aren’t. There’s always another headline or situation to make investors nervous enough to alter long-term strategies.

Behavioral-finance expert Meir Statman, a professor at Santa Clara University and author of the upcoming book “Finance for Normal People,” remembers a time when financial advisers and the media seemed to feel that the market tanked whenever President Obama opened his mouth. Some couldn’t take it anymore and their clients sold all of their stocks.

It was February 2009, a month before the long and current bull market started.

“It’s a good lesson to today’s Democrats,” Statman said. “The world seems to be coming to an end, but it won’t.”