Developing the Mind for Trading

One Small Glitch

What if there were one small glitch that was keeping you from the “promised land” in your trading?  One small glitch, that’s all.  What would you do to correct that problem?  I bet you would be willing to move figurative mountains in your quest to make that problem go away.  In fact, most of you already have mountains of cast-off stuff that once held promise, but didn’t deliver on those promises.  Just chalk that up to the learning curve, right?

After a number of years of expensive fixes maybe you’re wondering if you’re looking in all the wrong places or are not asking the right questions about your “stuck-ness” in trading.  If more stuff was the answer, the tide would have already come in and resulted in your trading success.  With all the quick (and often expensive) fixes laying in a rubble pile, maybe it’s time to realize that the problem is you.

A Successful Trading Mind

Maybe, just maybe (through no fault of your own) the mind that you brought to trading is not going to be the one that brings you your long-sought success in trading.  I bet that beautiful mind of yours is, in fact, a perfectly good mind that has proven itself many times in the past by producing success (outside of trading).  That’s good.

But what if that perfectly good mind of yours simply is not built for the environment that trading demands?  And what if the problem really is one particular glitch in the way the emotional brain and the thinking brain coordinate action together (or not).  And what if it was fixable – would you be willing to make the necessary modifications so that your whole brain operated as effectively in the environment of trading as it performed before trading?

You may be asking, “What kind of idiotic question is that – of course I would!”  Working on one small glitch in communication between my emotional brain and my thinking brain – anybody in their right mind would do it in a heartbeat.  Or would they?  In truth, very few traders find the gumption to make the changes.  Instead of saying, “I’m going to address the real problem and learn how to work the switch that turns on and off my survival instinct that produces irrational behaviors just when I need to keep my act together”, they will choose to not see the problem and produce a rationalization that keeps self-limiting trading behaviors in place.  Then they will reload and do it again and again.

Making Changes

Distracting the self is always easier than taking a gut check and actually changing something that does not work.  As long as the brain interprets uncertainty and risk as dangerous (its default programming), traders will choke in the face of the challenges of trading.  Under the stress of trading, the limbic system (your emotional brain) will always reroute sensorial information from going to the thinking brain for evaluation.  Instead, it will trigger the survival instinct and act reactively, cutting off the evaluation of the cerebral cortex in the process.

This is simply an evolutionary glitch from the design/build brain that evolution gave us.  Fortunately though, there is a workaround for us humans. And if you are truly going to evolve into a successful trader, you are going to need to address this.  Wishful, manly (or womanly) thinking is not going to produce the workaround that is needed to deal effectively with this problem.

To learn more from Rande, be sure to check out some of his other articles at TradersStateofMind.com.

This website is for educational purposes only. Futures, options, and spot currency trading have large potential risk and traders should be well-educated before putting real money at risk. You must be aware of the risks and willing to accept them in order to invest in all markets. Don’t trade with money you can’t afford to lose. This website is neither a solicitation nor an offer to buy/sell a futures contract or currency.