Has this ever happened to you? You look over your trades at the end of your session and notice a landscape that caused you to wonder who stole your mouse. In fact, it seemed as though you were in a fog or a trance; a dream-like state that left you tripping over bad habits and old patterns that acted like a deep rut from whence you couldn’t escape. In other words you were barreling ahead oblivious to plans, rules or trading commitments where your behavior was driven by fear and/or greed. You felt dejected, defeated and depressed; and most of all out-of-control because you had done this over and over after having promised yourself that you would change. This is default trading, meaning that you defaulted to negative patterns of thinking, emotions and doing that proved to be far away from what was in your best interest.
Another way of describing the above is you were caught in a “negative trader trance” a pattern of behavior that had become so deeply entrenched that you had been on auto-pilot as if in a plane whose controls were broken. This negative trader trance plagues thousands of traders every day. You find yourself – despite your best effort to stop– driven by bad habits that have been motivated by errant emotions, which are prompted by unconscious conversations. Unfortunately, most of this process is out of your awareness until it is too late, and even if you become aware of the issue, it is as though you are trying to walk forward in a 200 mile per hour headwind; it feels impossible.
One thing that you must come to grips with is that the change you seek is nearly impossible, until and unless you become aware of your issues. Yes, you are certainly aware of the fact that you are getting results that you don’t want, but that is not enough. You must become aware of your underlying self-sabotaging thoughts, emotions and limiting beliefs that drive what you do. If you don’t become aware of this “internal data” you will continue to do the same thing and you’ll get the same result. You must increase your ability to be “self-aware.” To be self-aware means that you are cognizant of where you are, what you are doing, how you are doing it and what is going on inside of your body and head. You’ve got to be sensitive to changes in your feelings, not just your emotions. Emotions like anxiety, fear, greed and anger are not always known to you. They can be triggered by an unconscious thought, such as; “…if I lose in this trade that means that I am stupid.” This unconscious thought might give rise to a surge of anxiety initially, and after the loss, self-loathing; but the emotions may not be identified by your conscious mind (your awareness) because you are not in touch with them. Rather, what you feel, for instance, is a tension in your gut, a pressure in your head, or a pain in your back. These feelings are directly related to the unconscious emotion, but you are not aware of the connection. So, you barrel ahead feeling something in your body, and for the most part oblivious to the pattern of behavior that has been initiated, like turning on a switch to a chainsaw that has no handler – it can cause a lot of damage.
So, when we talk about increasing the awareness of your issues and problems, it is more than that. You must develop sensitivity to the signals that your body and mind are sending to you that something is wrong and requires your attention. For example, when you are about to enter a trade and you feel a knot in the pit of your stomach, it may not just be that undigested pork sausage sandwich that you ate for dinner last night. In fact, it probably isn’t most of the time. Your subconscious attempts to communicate with you early and often as it relates to engaging in important efforts (like trading) where you place a very high value on phantom concepts like always being right, being perfect, never losing and many other “limiting beliefs” that will throw a monkey wrench into your trading machinery. When this happens you are out of alignment and working against your best interest. Actually, when you feel any discomfort, it is usually connected to a part of your inner self that is attempting to express itself. Your personality is made up of a number of distinct parts, which is why you are often in conflict. This conflict is a reflection of differing notions, belief systems and values that are vying for expression. How often have you “decided” upon a plan of action in your trading only to “second guess” and renege on the plan…then to find that the second guessing caused you to lose. Or, how about making a decision to lose weight, get up early, or put together a Macro Trading Plan and part of what you tell yourself is that “you either don’t really need that” or “that you’ll do it as soon as you get ‘a round tuit’” (I’ve got some of those for sale by the way – they are in high demand).
Becoming more sensitive to the signals (internal thoughts, emotions, feelings, etc.) means that you must stop and “listen” to your body. It means that you must be willing to invest the time and energy to get to know you. It means that you must be willing to get outside of your comfort zone and be uncomfortable in the service of your highest and best goals and your A-Game. I remember one of my students decided not to involve themselves in an exercise in one of my classes. When I asked him why he had not done the exercise he said that he didn’t want to “remember” the trade and go there. I told him; “…but, that is exactly the point!” You must be willing to confront the unpleasant thoughts, emotions and memories to find out what is at the core of your conflicts, bad patterns and limiting beliefs. What you resist…persists. Using mindful practices like self-reflection, introspection, meditation, and just asking the question “why” after each answer to the question “what is going on with me right now?” will help you immensely in your quest to connect with your highest and best trader.
Mastering your mental game will help you reach and sustain your A-Game. Your best game is crucial if you want to get consistent positive results. In the process of mastering your mental game you will learn tools to help you become more sensitive and self-aware so that you can change the bad behavior and begin to keep your rules and your commitments. Online Trading Academy has Online, On-location, and XLT opportunities to help you turn the corner and go to the trader trenches prepared to win in the battle. Ask your Online Trading Academy Educational Counselor for more information. Also, my book, From Pain to Profit: Secrets of the Peak Performance Trader is available on Amazon.