Image: controlling emotion

The Path to Emotional Control

Traders have a major problem. After over two decades of trading on the floors in Chicago and San Francisco, building my own options and equity trading firm, training traders to trade my own capital, coaching traders, building trading courses, and facilitating online mastermind groups, it has become obvious that most traders have a major problem.

The path to trading mastery is often sabotaged by subconscious emotions we bring to the market. I have seen the subconscious emotions and desires cost big money, not only for myself, but the traders in my own firm. That doesn’t even start to add up the millions lost by other floor traders whose emotional biases have limited their own profits.

As I work with independent traders, I see these “Mind Traps” preventing smart, experienced, and determined traders sabotaged by what they don’t know. And by that I mean what they don’t know about the subconscious emotional patterns in their brains that are preventing them from getting the success they want.

Our subconscious emotions are often connected to the deepest survival instincts in our brain. Some of these instincts come hardwired from our evolutionary past and their development in tribal cultures on the savannas of Africa. Other subconscious patterns we create all by ourselves when we were much younger as a way to survive challenging situations or even trauma as we grow.

These emotional Mind Traps are skilled at camouflage. No matter how good we get at seeing the market as it is without our biases, our Mind Traps will get even more creative.

As a result, many traders repeat the same trading behaviors. The repeated patterns reduce their potential profits, or even prevent them from becoming consistently profitable.

Do you recognize any of these trading patterns that no longer serve you?

Image shows emotional trading traps that become habits, leading to trading losses.

What if, imagine what if you could uncover these emotionally driven trading behaviors? By this I mean the patterns that are rooted the subconscious patterns in our brains. Imagine what if you could stop fighting your own brain!

Can we change from internal struggle to an internal rapport that feels better and gets us to our goals? My three decades of trading experience along with training traders tells me that we can’t discipline ourselves out of these behaviors that we repeat over and over again. A more productive way to create new behaviors that serve us better is to become aware of the subconscious patterns, realize the positive intent from which they were created, and then build rapport with all parts of ourselves that contribute to our trading decisions.

How do we do this? This prescription is only helpful if we have a methodology of awareness and discovery that creates additional choices for ourselves in real time. However, we recognize this process that is the most challenging one we will face as traders. You see, our emotional desires are very skillful in pulling us back to our dream zone.

What can you do right now? One easy exercise is simply to set a timer on your phone for 10 minutes while trading. When it goes off, write down:

  1. Your physical sensations (breathing, heart rate, muscle tension, abdomen)
  2. Your emotional state of mind (depressed, angry, happy, sad, frustrated, exhilarated)
  3. The quality of your thoughts (self-critical, over confident, demeaning, encouraging)

You don’t need to do anything…just become aware. That’s right. No need to correct anything, just become aware of each state, write it down with the time. Now, set the alarm again. With practice you will be able to become aware of more and more subtleties of your current state. This in and of itself is valuable.

At Mind Muscles, this is the foundation that leads to trading success. We base our change and development process on the three “Golden Keys.”

  1. Awareness
  2. Acceptance
  3. Action

With this exercise you are well on your way to laying a foundation for the growth to trading mastery.