You know what you need to do to execute your trading strategy. However, circumstances seem to dictate different responses in the moment. With hindsight you know that had you been more “disciplined” you would have been more profitable.
Why is it so hard to be “disciplined?” Why are New Year’s resolutions hardly ever kept? Why does it feel like you are acting from a different brain when trading than when researching? Why does learning a new, more satisfying behavior feel so hard to do?
Our brain automates much of our responses. The brain has an incredible ability to automate our repetitive behaviors so we can focus on more critical or creative activity. These repeated behaviors “emerge as a result of experience-dependent plasticity in basal ganglia-based circuits that can influence not only overt behaviors but also cognitive activity.” What this means is that repeated behaviors, thoughts, stories and activities create neural pathways and complex network connections that can become a working unit. The entire complex of neural activity can be fired by a single trigger.
Original brain patterns are duplicated. Often, these complex neural patterns are copies of earlier patterns that eventually connect to our more primal needs. Even if our current response is dysfunctional, we still repeat it time after time.
How can we best understand behavioral change? But now we want to build a new trading behavior. As we do this in real time it feels so very “hard.” It feels like swimming in molasses. Why is this?
By understanding how the brain connects neural impulses. Because the old patterns are so well developed, so easily connected to multiple neural circuits and complexes that executing the old behaviors feels both easy and good at the same time.
We need to create new neural connections. Creating new behaviors means that you are building new neural circuits where none have been before. Imagine driving down an interstate highway with its overpasses, bridges, fuel stops and connecting highways. Now imagine a broad canyon with jungle, boulders and sheer cliffs. Your job is to build a new footpath to a new destination on the other side.
Building new neural connections is like a catch 22. To make it even worse, as you hack your way through the jungle, you don’t know where you will end up or if there is anything of value on the other side. It is tough to be motivated to keep hacking, when you can hear the cars on the freeway zipping right along the eight lane bridge above you to their familiar destination, even if it isn’t where you want to go.
Discipline isn’t always the answer. Building new trading behaviors (we call them Mind Muscles™) when you have never experienced the satisfaction of the results of that new behavior is like hacking your way through the jungle. It is a big job that requires a lot of determination. That is why we recommend a different process of creating new positive, rewarding and more functional trading behaviors.
What if there was a way to have a positive experience of the new behaviors? This process can be visualized by imagining the broad canyon. Your destination connects to a different point on the other side than the bridge. What if, rather than hacking your way through the jungle and building a new footpath, you could have an experience of zipping to the other side, even if just for a millisecond? It’s like you can taste the satisfaction of experiencing the results of the new thinking pattern or behavior.
Think of this as a thread across the canyon. With the thread, you can pull a cord across. With the cord you can pull a rope. With a rope you can pull a cable and eventually build a bridge.
It is the same way your brain works. As we parse out the successful trading behaviors, we can then create a simulation, visualization or experience that is rewarding for each of these parts. We have created the thread across the canyon without hacking through the jungle. Now, having that experience once, we can expand it. If we can do it for a millisecond, we can expand that experience to a second…a minute…an hour and then for all of our lives.
How do we connect that thread? The hard part is getting the thread across the canyon in the first place. That is why a guide who can create a scenario that allows you to experience that positive new behavior for that critical moment can be very helpful.
Our brains can create the reality. When we work with active traders building new Mind Muscles™, we play out scenes that allow new behaviors to be fully appreciated and savored, even if for just a moment. This gives the student the golden thread they need to build that bridge across the canyon.
Yes, a Golden Thread Across the Canyon. Our training methods in our online courses, our group support meetings and private coaching use this methodology to give all of our students a Golden Thread Across the Canyon.
A veteran broker and floor trader, Rich went from the "worst trainee trader ever", to building one of the most consistently profitable options trading firms on the Pacific Exchange by training his traders using neuroscience. Rich also holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology, a B.A. in Philosophy, and is a graduate of the Gestalt Institute in San Francisco along with Master’s training in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).
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