OK…So, you’re in a trade and you hear a loud voice that sounds suspiciously like your mother say, “… No, don’t do that, you’ll lose!” But, even though the voice resonates in your head, this is in fact the only place that it can be heard; because it’s coming from you. Thoughts are part and parcel to the trading process. There are mechanical thoughts, for example: “…This zone is too tight so let me check the level on another time frame.” These thoughts have to do with the mechanics of your trade, as in your plan, rationale, set-ups, rules, target and stops; to name a few. There are also internal thoughts, for example: “I always screw up with these supply zones and it probably won’t be any different now.” Of course, internal thoughts are about you and your beliefs (limiting or otherwise) concerning money, loss, abilities, confidence, esteem, etc… Internal thoughts and noise can be as loud and arguably more distracting as sounds in the physical environment. And I might add here, that it’s not that your thoughts have a huge impact upon your trading, actually, it’s more like without your thoughts there is no trading (short of a Black Box – and that must be programmed). So, just as thoughts are crucial to trading, sounds can greatly affect thoughts; that means that “sounds” whether external or internal greatly affect your trade. There are so many sounds in your overall environment; from voices, ambient sounds (dogs barking, traffic, landscaping, electrical/mechanical devices), and TV and/or radio programs. So much of it turns into noise, very distracting noise. Now, what is most important for you to remember is that auditory stimuli in your trading environment should be carefully for maximum support to your trading.
One of the ways to become deliberate about managing the sounds of your trading environment is first through managing your internal dialogue. This is done by monitoring thoughts in order to identify unsupportive, negative or destructive content stemming from limiting beliefs about self, markets or processes. When you recognize that a previously unconscious negative thought is now asserting itself you should immediately stop what you are doing and change the content and/or the context of the idea. That would change the meaning of that thought so you can go from, “…You were pretty stupid to lose in that trade.” To: “…I’ve made a mistake, I’ll learn from it and then move on.” When you go through this exercise repeatedly you will begin to train your mind/brain to jettison thought-garbage and replace it with thoughts that are supportive and relevant to successful trading.
External sounds must be managed as well and choosing wisely will assist you in honing your focus to a laser precision on what matters most and keep your internal dialogue on target and on task. Let’s begin with music. Music has been documented ad nausea for its effect on the body, mind and spirit of the human system for both good and ill. Here is an example; Adagio 60 beat per minute classical Baroque is a great choice for helping you to relax your body while keeping your mind sharp. This type of music engages a “frequency following response” in the body; and if you breath along with the rhythm of the music your heart rate is likely to slow its rhythm as well resulting in an increased state of relaxation. You are also likely to go into an “alpha” brain wave (7 – 12 Hz) after about 10 – 15 minutes of listening. This brain wave is associated with a state of relaxation and calm while remaining alert. Adding this type of stimuli to your trading environment can help get your system firing on all cylinders so that you’re aligned in body, mind and emotions, allowing your whole self to work toward the same goals and in the same direction. It begins with relaxation, calm and focus, which in turn supports patience and the ability to follow-through. Additionally, you can buy audio brain wave entrainment tracks (binaural beats and/or isochronic tones) from ITunes, Amazon or …; then upload it into your computer using audacity.com, a free open-source recording software, for instance. Then choose an “alpha” frequency to trade with and use it along with or aside from the classical adagio.
Here’s something else you could do. Go through your journal (What?!? You don’t keep one? Then start immediately!!) and identify those negative statements or beliefs (“If my stop gets hit I’ll lose” and “If I lose that means that I’m a horrible trader!”) that created an emotion (like fear) and drove a behavior (like moving a stop). Then take that negative statement and change it to be supportive and make an affirmation about it. For instance, I’m so grateful and happy now that I allow my stops to always protect my capital. Then record the affirmation(s), put them on a loop using audacity.com and play them back along with the music and the binaural beats.
The examples above of managing your auditory trading environment create a powerful edge in planning your trades, trading your plans, following all of your rules and keeping all of your commitments. This is among the foundation of your goals and objectives. Designing your sound environment is a key to paving the way to your highest and best inner trader trading in the highest and best interests of self. This is what we teach in “Mastering the Mental Game” Online, On-location and XLT. 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