Have you ever stopped to think about your thinking? You may have done it without really noticing; and even if you did notice by asking yourself, “What was I thinking?” right after that bone-headed trade you made; you may not have considered the “meta-implications” of doing so. In other words, thinking about thinking is something that most people do as a knee-jerk response and, as such, they may not be aware of the power of the moment that they are giving up when they fail to take note introspectively. When you truly plumb the depths of the implications of the quality, content, direction and force of thought, you are by definition taking a concerted step towards defining yourself in greater detail and also living – and therefore trading – in a more deliberate and evolved way. Everything begins with thought; that is, every creation, invention, innovation and insignificant thing. Thoughts are magical in their power and as ubiquitous as life itself…in other words, thoughts are things. Paradoxically, we are at the mercy of thoughts and, as well, we are the creators and controllers. Let’s take a look at thoughts from the standpoint of our body/mind system and how we do what we do.
Thoughts are things and the way you think affects your body, your trading and your life. The relationship between thoughts and the physical body have been researched well. The growing field of psychoneuroimmunology has demonstrated the connection between mind and body. Simply put, the way that it works is that whenever you have a thought you produce a biochemical reaction in the brain. The brain then releases chemical signals that are transmitted to the body as messengers of the thought. Because the chemicals released by the brain that were produced by the thought activate feelings in the body as a direct result of the thought connected chemicals; you feel in the body exactly how you were thinking a moment ago. This is why depressed, fatalistic, worrisome, angry and fearful thoughts have a corresponding physical response; causing fatigue, a rundown feeling and compromising the immune system so that your resistance to disease and illness becomes quite low.
When the body responds to a thought by having a feeling, this initiates a response in the brain. The brain constantly monitors and evaluates the status of the body and notices that the body is feeling a certain way. In response to the way the body is feeling the brain generates other thoughts that produce corresponding chemical messengers and you begin to “think” the way you are feeling. This produces a continuous cycle of thoughts producing feelings/emotions and feelings/emotions producing thoughts. This cycle creates an overall state that can and does become pervasive. If these thoughts/emotions comprise a negative state, then this state affects everything that you do negatively; your being, your communication, your interactions and of course your performance – especially trading. The more you think the same thoughts, which then produce the same chemicals, which cause the same feelings, the more you physically become modified by your thoughts. What you think about and the intensity of those thoughts ultimately influences your health, the choices you make and your quality of life. While in this continuous negative state, it is virtually impossible to get different (positive) results in your trading. The reason is that in order to get different results you must behave differently. But, your behavior is a direct byproduct of your thinking. So, to change your results you must change your thinking … your state.
You must begin to pay constant attention to what you are thinking, especially automatic thoughts that are tied to limiting beliefs. What you will find is that many of your limiting beliefs (a limiting belief is just a thought that you think all the time) are “not true” but, you have come to believe them over time and they have profoundly affected your state or overall attitude. Actually, one of the questions that you can ask yourself when you are experiencing lack and limited thinking is, “…is this thought true, is it absolutely true?” In this way you begin to challenge the underlying premise of your state or attitude and gain insight. You also must fight against the notion that they are uncontrollable. One of the beautiful aspects of your brain is that it has neuro-plasticity, meaning that it has been designed to change. Once you start to first examine each thought, then purposefully modify or root out the wrong and untrue limiting beliefs. then you can begin to change them one thought at a time.
I’ve often talked about the importance of the Thought Journal for your trading. I hope this brief explanation helped to shed a little more light on why thoughts are so important and why you must manage your thoughts before you can manage your emotions. Changing results depends upon dealing with the whole “internal data” equation; Thoughts + Emotions + Behavior = Results. Each point in the equation is critical and contributes to the results that you are getting. This is what we are committed to, that is, to support you in gaining insight into your negative thoughts in order to begin to manage them and thereby manage your emotions. We are here to help you to master your mental game to bring your A-Game to your platform and keep it there throughout your trading session. In this way you will begin to make better choices and decisions, and you are more apt to follow through on those choices and decisions which means that you are in a better position to get the results that you want and not the results that you’ve been getting. Ask your Online Trading Academy Education Counselor for more information about Mastering the Mental Game Online, On-location and XLT courses. Also, get my book, “From Pain to Profit: Secrets of the Peak Performance Trader.”
Dr. Woody Johnson