Your brain is the most awesome mechanism in the Universe … as we know it. Babies, both pre- and post-natal are metaphorical sponges of data and information. Also, brains have the ability to adapt to disease and injury by having one part of the brain take over the functions of another part of the brain that has been compromised; for example disabling injuries to the speech centers of the left brain can be “learned” by the right brain as a compensatory measure. Additionally, as late as about 30 – 40 years ago it was thought that once brain cells were lost or destroyed through any number of ways, not the least of which being alcohol intoxication, the conventional wisdom was that you would not and could not recover, that brain cells once lost were gone forever. However, we now know that through training the brain can adapt, change and even “grow” new brain cells well into the senior years and beyond in response to being challenged through illness or injury.
The brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life is called “neuroplasticity.” Each individual neural cell is made up of an axon, dendrites and is linked to one another by a small space called the synapses. The word plastic means to mold, sculpt or modify. Neuroplasticity refers to the potential that the brain has to reorganize by creating new neural pathways to adapt as it needs. In other words, it is the capacity of neurons and neural networks in the brain to change their connections and behavior in response to new information, sensory stimulation, development, damage or dysfunction. Although neural networks also exhibit modularity (the degree to which a system’s components may be separated and recombined) and carry out specific functions, they retain the capacity to deviate from their usual functions and to reorganize themselves.
For many years, it was thought to be etched in stone in the neurosciences that certain functions were hard-wired in specific, localized regions of the brain and that any incidents of brain change or recovery were mere exceptions to the rule. However, since the 1970s and ’80s, neuroplasticity has gained wide recognition as a mainstream concept. According to the theory of neuroplasticity, thinking, learning, and acting change both the brain’s functional anatomy and its physical anatomy; it is constantly changing as it interacts with the environment.
Training is an important concept to embrace with the notion of neuroplasticity. You know that your body will respond to the stress of consistent exercise that pushes your limits causing the system to go out of homeostasis (the tendency of a system, especially the physiological, to maintain internal stability, by responding to any stimulus that would disturb it) and adapt thereby developing the capacity for greater strength and endurance. The same principle holds true for your mind/brain; the neuroplasticity of your brain is what responds when you challenge your thinking, feeling and doing in ways that take you out of your comfort zone. This type of response is intentionally feeling and remaining uncomfortable; that is, when you honor your stop and refuse to move it in the face of the price action inching towards it or watching a blast-off candle go higher and higher without giving into the urge to chase the trade or refusing to exit a trade prematurely just to grab a tiny profit because you’re afraid to stay in and risk losing again. In that moment your discomfort is in the service of your highest and best goals.
There are many other ways to train your mind/brain to begin to restructure and reorganize itself in the interests of your A-Game trading. Here are a few:
- Remain in the moment and in the Now of the trade allowing you to put yourself into a position of alignment of body, mind and emotions going in the same direction and for the same goals. When you are aligned it is more likely that you will be able to effectively deal with internal conflict that comes from thoughts, beliefs, biases and emotions that are contrary to your objectives.
- Monitor what you are telling yourself. Many of your thoughts are out of your awareness or unconscious to you. So, it is important to track your thoughts and when you become aware that you are thinking or saying negative, destructive and devaluing things about the market or more importantly yourself, it is critical that you change them from being unsupportive to positive and proactive.
- When you become aware that you have done something that is not in the best interests of the results that you want, document the specifics and from time-to-time revisit the journal points in order to uncover the bad patterns of thinking, feeling and doing that make up negative habits. In this way you position yourself to reprogram faulty behavior.
- Embrace your negative emotions for they have very valuable information associated with them. When you do this through appreciative inquiry (gently questioning your motives and thinking that were behind that negative emotion) the information that you uncover will take you step-by-step towards making the changes necessary to get the results that you want.
The preceding points are only a few of the ways that you challenge the status quo of your brain/mind and begin to train it so that it begins to work for you rather than against you. Neuroplasticity is a powerful component of the most awesome machinery in the known Universe. Learn to use it, train yourself in methods that will item-by-item, trade-by-trade take you from where you are in your trading to where you want to be. This is what we teach in “Mastering the Mental Game” online and on-location courses. 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 – firstname.lastname@example.org