Psychological iceberg ahoy!

It’s taken me about two weeks to find the balls to write this post and so it’s worth a quick recap otherwise some of what follows won’t make sense.

In the previous post here I pretty much made the point that from a ‘technical’ standpoint I actually do know what I’m doing. There’s some actual evidence to back this up too 😉

So that post was really about giving myself a kick up the backside and focussing on making the effort required.

The big challenge occurred when (two weeks ago now) I went to put this into action and I’ll be honest people, I completely failed to make any progress.

I just couldn’t get myself into a point mentally where I was happy enough to place any trades. A quite rigorous beat up session then followed.

I told myself that I really like having the time to watch price and ‘connect’ with the market and of course working a job somewhat gets in the way… but that’s not really it.

That was just an excuse.

So it’s actually Rogue Traderette’s blog here which contains this priceless piece of wisdom that I ran into like a freight train. Ouch!

If you’re looking for trading to solve existing issues then you’re wrong…

Awww… crap… as eventually my brain managed to see the rest of the iceberg which was that I’ve always, always (i.e. my whole life) been looking for something outside of myself to ‘fix’ my life. Double Crap.

Here’s why this really sucks. This has applied to almost every significant decision I’ve made whether it’s to do with people, jobs, relationships or in this case trading.

Somehow I thought that something other than me, something external, could ‘fix’ me or ‘save’ my life. I’ve been looking an awfully long time.

How this relates to trading is that it’s psychologically almost impossible to trade if you’ve managed to attach that much emotional load to something over which you have absolutely no control whatsoever.

So what does this mean? Well obviously trading will not ‘fix’ my life so I shouldn’t attach so much importance to the outcome of an individual trade because to borrow that well worn phrase – ‘It’s the journey, not the destination’ and you know (I’m telling you) I’m very, very far from journey’s end.

An over-riding attachment to the outcome, linked to my previous perspective, means that taking trades is actually made way too difficult because I’m making a huge deal out of them. I’m completely failing to get out of my own way.

This is a huge mental boulder that I’m working around at the moment and it’s a biggie so might take a while.

However it might be the last one…

As you can tell – I’m an optimist! LOL 😉

BTW: Huge props to Jess (RogueTraderette) for the great humour, content and just general awesomeness of her blog. If you’re not subscribed there already then you should be! Arnie says ‘Do it NOW!’

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27 thoughts on “Psychological iceberg ahoy!

    1. robertsweetman Post author

      Thx for the comment – to be honest, if I have to read another trading book at the moment my head will probably explode 😉

      Will keep it in mind though! Thanks for the comment

      Cheers

      Rob

      Reply
      1. Dave McPhee

        Hi Rob,
        I have never plugged a book before, so this is coming from the heart. Mark’s book does not talk about trading. He talks about how our minds are wired to make trading extremely difficult. He does talk about how to “get out of our own way”.
        How we automatically link associations & expectations, in other words, our perception might be “The Truth” to us, but it may be irrational if viewed from outside, and as we all know, the market is quick to correct wrong assumptions.
        Anyway, reading this book has fundamentally changed my perspective, and I thought of it as soon as I read your blog. Just read the intro on Amazon, what have you to lose?
        Cheers,
        Dave

      2. robertsweetman Post author

        Hi Dave – thanks for the recommendation 😉 Have got the audiobook version now and am impressed by what I’ve heard so far. Thanks for the comment, much appreciated!

  1. The1LotTrader

    This really strikes a chord with me as I’ve faced a similar struggle in my trading career. When one begins to attach ones own self worth to the outcome of every trade it is a very nasty place to be in. For me a great help was to actually shift my focus away from trading slightly. Stop reading trading books, once you’ve read more than 50, you’ve read it all before anyway. Realise you can’t fix this particular issue by trying to learn more as I myself was doing. What helped me was I picked up a couple of new hobbies, started to get outdoors a bit more. You know, breathe the fresh air and all of that, get back to appreciating the things we already have in life.

    One thing I can highly highly recommend is getting a cheap “how to meditate” book off Amazon and spend 15minutes a day working on that. I am not the meditating type or at least I thought I wasn’t but was willing to try anything. I would credit this small exercise with a huge change in outlook on my life in general, not just trading. Worth a try for the 5 bucks or whatever it was for the book.

    Have just found your blog and will be following your progress. Thanks for the honesty of this post. Well worth the read.

    Reply
    1. robertsweetman Post author

      Hi Ross – brilliant comment and advice which I am definitely implementing. Completely agree on the meditation point as this is something I’ve been doing for about a year now. The changes I’ve experience are indeed remarkable. So yes, the main thing for me is to not treat this particular subject (trading) with the degree of seriousness/attachment that I have been up till now. To quote the advert ‘Calm down dear!’ LOL 😀

      Thanks again for the comment, all input/advice is very much appreciated!

      Reply
      1. The1LotTrader

        Rob,

        Glad to see you have already taken up the meditation. I back read your posts this morning and picking up the context of the entire flow of thoughts it makes me realise how similar our experiences as traders are.

        From one trader to another I would say I’m glad you have arrived at the destination that you have, have given yourself a kick up the arse and are now being honest with yourself. If it helps I will offer my own foot.. Lol.. I have come to the conclusion that we spend allot of time as novice traders making excuses to ourselves as to why we are failing to do something.

        I now believe there is a very simple answer and it has nothing to do with systems or the alignment of the moon and the stars or our ability to use someone else’s system etc. It is quite simply because trading makes us feel uncomfortable. Putting trades on in the market, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, is a seriously strenuous business and if your doing it right – as a new trader, it is doubly strenuous because profitable trades are never easy. An easy trade tends to be a suckers trade.

        I would venture to say the likes of FT71, RobSpain and the usual suspects success has nothing to do with their systems or even their affinity with these systems. It is simply their ability to control their own personal psychology and carry out what they expect of themselves day after day, month after month and year after year.

        It was actually a few of FT71’s video’s that helped me to make my own leap forward on this account but it had nothing to do with his system, his process or any of that. What I found enlightening was his outlook and approach on life and it made me realise where my own was sorely lacking in some of these qualities.

        Over time I have come to find that some of these missing elements were key to what was holding me back in my own progress and none of them had anything to do with trading methods etc. The longer you spend digging in that hole the longer the whole journey will take because like I mentioned before, once you’ve read 50 trading books, you’ve read 1000.

        In any case, I hope I haven’t taken over to much real estate in your comments column here 🙂 looks like you’ve made that first step in identifying your own root cause of some issues and I have a feeling we’re in for one of those key decision point moments soon.

        Keen to hear how you get on and keep fighting the good fight.

      2. robertsweetman Post author

        Hi Ross – thanks for the awesome comments and yep, all kicks appreciated since at this stage I know how valuable they are! There is also no limit on comment length as the ‘prize’ for this currently resides with Jon on another post here – LOL

        I’ll go back to look through FT71’s videos because there’s some great psychological points in there. Thanks for the reminder on that.

        Maybe the answer is simply acceptance and ‘leaning into the discomfort’ which is a phrase from psychology/social work related to moving out of the comfort zone to deal with issues.

        In the interim where the new traders amount of trading stats and experience is relatively limited there doesn’t seem to be any option but to ‘man up’ and start building that intuitive link between price on screen, trade management and the results achieved.

        The hole’s deep enough and I’m all about climbing back out now

        Best regards

        Robert

  2. Simon

    Trading in the Zone is essential reading. I think the idea that trading to solve life’s other problems is basically from Douglas.

    Another thing he advocates is that when you have a proper methodology then you don’t need to think about anything else except to execute it correctly. This way allows the probabilities to play out to their best.

    Reply
    1. robertsweetman Post author

      Hi Simon – this is the one trading book I’ve not read (yet) which has consistently appeared on everyone’s list… At the moment I’m kind of ‘done’ with reading though – it’s all about the doing part from this point forwards.

      I think having a proper methodology / execution as a ‘fix’ for psychology is an over simplification. It’s never that easy since every trading day is completely different. It’s also possible that I’m thinking too hard about this though!! 😀

      The way I’m attacking this problem is to be fiercely ‘self aware’ of what I’m feeling when placing a trade so I can really try to learn/understand where this issue is arising from internally. This is the opposite of ‘trading without emotion’ because I don’t believe this is possible or even particularly beneficial to trading.

      I’m going to do a post about this in the near future though 😉

      Thanks for the comment Simon – very impressed with the whole FTSEDay thing you’re doing!

      Reply
      1. kinsaleforex

        If I can offer my two cents on this. You’re right in saying it’s on everyone’s reading list, but i’m going to stick my neck on the line and say; It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

        Yes it has some useful info and there are some nuggets to be found as well. I even have a quote on my blog. But, with this in mind I really struggled to get through it, I felt there was a lot of waffling and it often took far too long for him to get to the point.

        Controversial perhaps, seeing as it is the holy grail for so many people, but each to their own and all that.

        The main thing I took from it is that we don’t know what is going to happen next. We have our edge, we trade our edge but we don’t know what is going to happen next.

        Cheers,

        Liam

      2. robertsweetman Post author

        Hi Liam

        I have to say I agree in that 90% of American authors manage to turn a whole book out from an idea that can be explained in a chapter.

        I’ve seen so many people bin perfectly good trades ’cause they felt they knew what was going to happen next!

        All I’m doing now is concentrating on probabilities and risk management

        Thanks for the comment

        Cheers

        Robert

  3. Simon

    Get it on audio book, Robert. I think it’s a life-changing in terms of trading. I listen to it when driving decent distances on motorways. Great time to absorb the messages.

    Thanks regarding FTSEday. We’re really busy at the moment and it always feels like we’ve got so much to do. You’re welcome to pop by whenever as always.

    Simon.

    Reply
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  6. paul k

    forgive me for repeating myself Robert but watch the Douglas videos that I posted about – they are not very long and it will give you the essence before the audio book

    Reply
  7. KinsaleForex

    Hi Robert,

    Came to your blog through 1lot over at Blogger. I’ve had a flick through and read a few things, looks like i’m going to be kept busy reading fully! Some interesting stuff on here. Nice to meet a fellow spread better as well, i’m based in Ireland and using Finspreads. I look forward to talking more.

    Cheers,

    Liam

    Reply
  8. Pingback: Searching for the silver lining | robertsweetman

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