Your trading routine specifically points to a course of action and it’s in agreement with your trading plan; but, the more you look at it the more you feel pulled in the opposite direction. You identify that you’re in trouble because of the indecision; however, this awareness does not help your uncertainty. It is common to be conflicted, whether buying a burger, deciding on a movie, or trying to get up in the morning. While trading it happens all too often as well, for instance, when getting caught in the middle of one of your parts saying go on, move that stop before you get stopped out for a loss; while another internal voice is desperately attempting to keep you from violating one of your rules…again. Consider the number of times you have promised that you would develop a Trade Plan, or that you would use your Thought Journal and Trade Log with greater frequency only to fail to follow-through over and over. It’s very difficult to remain focused on what matters most when you are being pulled in opposite directions.
It’s helpful to know why conflict is so prevalent in your system and why it’s so difficult to stay on purpose and on target when the chaos presents itself. Parts are simply programmed patterns of thinking, feeling and doing that encompass a section of your life. These programmed patterns are downloaded from your parents and other influential people in your life from the earliest ages when significant events, positive or negative, pleasurable or painful, happened to you. For example, a child who is told that he is dumb, and who later becomes embarrassed in the classroom by the teacher, and later still is laughed at by his peers upon making a mistake in a recital might develop a programmed pattern about his abilities. This programmed pattern of thinking (I am not smart), feeling (anxiety associated with learning) and doing (making frequent mistakes due to the distractions driven by the emotions) can become a blueprint of how to respond. In other words, as you grew these downloaded programs became reinforced when similar events happened. Actually, your personality is a mixture of different sub-personalities or parts that have “fired” together and therefore they have “wired” together thereby forming the programmed patterns.
So, veering off the planned course can become pretty easy when your parts begin to argue very different points of view. What is important first is to identify where you want to go. As Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind.” What are the results you want to have created with your trading? After you have identified the aim then monitor your thinking, feeling and doing. However, you can’t monitor your thinking, emotions and behavior unless you are self-aware. You must be sensitive to what is taking you out of your comfort zone because this is normally the first discernible signal that you are in conflict. This signal is usually a feeling (like butterflies in the stomach) or emotional anxiety when you are about to violate a rule like moving a stop. When you “feel” the signal ask yourself: What must I be telling myself to feel this way? Then wait for your subconscious to answer. Often, you’ll be able to identify the faulty thought(s) behind the feeling or emotion, as in, “… I don’t want the price action to take me out and then go in my direction.” At this point you can document the thought, and then design a response that is in keeping with your highest and best goals. You are now more likely to be in alignment rather than in conflict. After documenting this process over time, programmed patterns will emerge. As they appear you can confront the thinking, feeling and doing one issue at a time.
Most people live life by default, from unconscious incompetence (you don’t know what you don’t know). The successful trader is prepared to design his or her responses and avoid the knee-jerk reaction by documenting the responses that are rendering unwanted results. It takes diligence to stay on track, but the more you document the conflicted thinking the less intensity and power it has to bring up negative feelings and emotions. You’ll begin to decrease the chatter from the ego-driven parts that are causing the veering and you will concurrently increase your supportive internal dialogue. Once you start doing that you’ll be closer to alignment; that is, having your parts go in the same direction and for the same goals.
Your A-Game is dependent on your congruency. To have your best available in the trader trenches is required for consistent success. Half-hearten attempts at remaining focused will only leave you vulnerable to chaotic unconscious conversations that will lead eventually to bad decisions. One of the things you’ll want to remember is that alignment (having your mind, emotions and behavior all working towards the same objectives) is connected to your ability to be in the Now of the trade. If you are distracted by events of your recent or distant past in the middle of a trade you are siphoning off your ability to have “all” of your attention focused on the task at hand…and you do need all of your attention on what you are doing in the trade. This is what we teach in “Mastering the Mental Game” Online and On-location courses; that is, how to bring your highest and best trader to the trading platform. Ask your Online Trading Academy representative for more information. Also, get my book, “From Pain to Profit: Secrets of the Peak Performance Trader.”
Dr. Woody Johnson