'If you're going through hell, keep going'

Bear markets, which can feel like hell for investors, are temporary.

A man sits cross-legged in a zen pose on top of his desk as papers fly around his head, keeping calm amid the volatility.

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"If you're going through hell, keep going."

The above quote is often attributed to Winston Churchill. It sounds like something he might have said, although there is no evidence to suggest that it was, in fact, his.

As per Quote Investigator, it's possible that it was adopted from a different source, such as "Christian Science Sentinel", a religious journal, in 1943. There, the story went that a man was asked how he was, to which he replied: "I'm going through hell!". His friend responded:

"Well, keep going. That is no place to stop!"

No place, indeed.

It's been a rough ride, Fools. These past few months have tested the resolve of even the most experienced investors, and have no doubt seen many give in to the market's pessimism.

But to do so now would, I believe, be consequential. 

The market is driven not by perfect information, but instead by incomplete information compounded by investor psychology. When panic sets in, people rush for the exits and leave behind those who are more focused on the underlying businesses and long-term wealth creation.

Bear markets, which can feel like hell for investors, are temporary. And while it mightn't feel like it at the time, this is where the foundations are set for the next bull cycle. 

Companies like JB Hi-Fi Limited (ASX: JBH), an Australian discretionary retailer recently reported a record sales result. Meanwhile, many companies in the United States that have recently reported their second-quarter earnings results – Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) among them – have also surprised to the upside.

Investors who sell out now, or merely remain on the sidelines, might avoid any further pain, should the market fall further. But many will also miss out on the gains which I expect will come to those who remain patient.

I'm not trying to call the bottom of the market. I don't know when that will be, nor if it has already been. But I will echo the words that Winston Churchill may or may not have said:

"If you're going through hell, keep going."

Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Netflix. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Netflix. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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