Miss-directed rebellion

In the last few weeks I’ve kind of been ‘on a break’ from looking at making trades because I’ve realised there are some psychological bits and pieces that I need to sort out. (ok, ok, some huge dirty great rocks)

On the plus side I actually (now) have the means to get inside my own head and root about for answers. As I wrote here I started meditating regularly well over a year ago now.

The fact that trading prompted me to even start doing this means, even if it ends up nowhere, meditating has really changed my life so I’ve not wasted my time. This isn’t the right post to get into the muck and bullets of that statement so back to the first paragraph…

It’s clear to me that through all the stuff I’ve learned about the technical part of trading there isn’t really any more to cram into my brain. Where I am now on this is all about application and probably has been for at least the last three months. I can keep ‘information gathering’ but that’s really all it will be in the vast majority of cases.

So we get onto the super duper part of application. Applying the knowledge I have in the market. Exciting, right?! Hmmmm… not so much. In fact I have discovered a number of challenges.

  1. I absolutely cannot get out of bed in the morning
  2. I have a lot less ‘self-discipline’ than I thought
  3. Definitely under capitalised due to my life circumstances

Point number 3 is something I’m working on (hey, work – gettit?) but I’m going to have to come back to that one elsewhere. However points 1 and have definitely been the source of endless frustration. Being generally pissed off at yourself for something that you can’t seem to overcome despite a lot of ‘good intentions’ is not healthy.

So eventually after a lot of sitting (i.e. meditating) and when this quote hit me in the face from somewhere I figured it out. First the quote: –

habits – you make them and then they make you

What I figured out is that from a quite young age I’ve been in the habit of rebellion. Now this doesn’t mean I’m some sort of anarchist 😉 it just means that early on (as a teenager) for a number of reasons I had to define my own identity and in part was only able to really do this by a certain degree of non-conformity. This could also be described as ‘f**king things up’ 😀

Now where this really becomes a problem is that ‘rebellious voice’ may have served me for a time as a teenager but I’ve let it stick around and it’s significant influence has become something of a habit.

Doing stuff for yourself and that ‘I’ll show them’ approach may work to solidify a sense of self when you’re 16-24 but it’s now quite counter productive.

What I’ve come to realise is this part of my inner world stopped rebelling against ‘others’ (or my parents) a long time ago and then took it upon itself to rebel against my own desires, wishes and intentions.

Read that last bit again. As soon as I became functionally independent that part of me decided it’s ‘job’ was to rebel against what I’m looking to do!!

Now clearly this part of me didn’t want to die so it had to be very clever and keep very well hidden so I have made progress it’s just maybe not with the speed and precision I could have.

It’s job is to rebel, to pull in the other direction. If I want to go left it wants to go right. If I want to improve my diet it’s busy convincing me that it’s ok to eat chocolate in the morning with my coffee (loaded with sugar).

Now the strategy might be to apply more self discipline. I can tell you now this doesn’t work and it’s tiring as hell. Why fight, fight, fight with a part of your own mental landscape? It’s just too hard and I’m smarter than that.

So what have I done? I have re-tasked this part of my rebellious self away from being an internal ‘blocker’ or guardian to have an external focus.

This is how it works. My higher self want’s to go to the gym. Rebellious me doesn’t want to and starts coming up with all sorts of reasons and justifications not to. Here’s the conversation…

Me: Right, time to go to the gym

Reb: No I’m tired, why not coffee rather? Do it tomorrow etc. etc.

Me: Hi Reb, you know this isn’t your job anymore right?

Reb: What?! How did you notice me?

Me: I’m aware of you now – you’re job is now to look out for external stuff ’cause you’ve grown up. You’re built to push back on stuff out there not ideas from within

Reb: Awww, but it’s harder!

Me: Yes but let’s go to the gym and I’m sure you’ll get the chance to do something later.

Reb: OK, but give me an example so I know what to look out for.

Me: Ok, like someone trying to take advantage or use emotional blackmail or manipulate you (us)

Reb: Right, external stuff as we discussed!

Me: Absolutely partner.

I get to go to the gym and don’t carry a stack of crap around associated with not going the gym/eating cake. Since I figured this out (last week) it’s actually been pretty cool seeing this in action although of course this new habit of correctly focussed rebellion isn’t bedded in 100% yet.

Sometimes it’s not more positive pressure that’s required but less negative influence – maybe from an area that’s hard to accept.

Who knew I was still such a rebel? I didn’t 😉


8 thoughts on “Miss-directed rebellion

  1. Miles

    A few thoughts…

    To be able to get out of bed early, it comes down to motivation and desire. You need to associate your success with the need to ‘get up’. You have to want success as much as you need to breathe. In addition, there is a physiological consideration in that your body and mind requires adequate rest in order to perform. I accomplish this by napping and adjusting my sleep schedule (melatonin helps), and setting price alerts ahead of my levels.

    I believe everything is habit forming…so form good ones and weed out the bad. It is so important to reflect on our decisions in life, and as traders this is a habit we often strengthen over others. Strive to reflect and improve.

    To make an observation, a lot of your posts seem to highlight mental or conditional barriers to trading (capital, time, drive). It has been my experience in trading, that most of the difficulties we face as traders are hurdles we create for ourselves.I would really like to see you analyzing your trades and technical applications. For me, my trading only started to develop once I began annotating my charts and trades, then reviewing those patterns and reducing my trading errors based on my understanding of my setups. I am really curious to know what patterns you are trading and some of your parameters – as well as the psychological journey of yours along the way. After all, success is a journey, not simply a destination. We also have to be flexible as traders. If you cannot trade the London open or session, study and adapt your trading model to a longer time frame – was going to mention this on one of your previous posts.

    Things can be sooo clear looking back after taking a break huh? Don’t forget what you discover… Several weeks back I setup a large white board in my office with 3 categories; Errands, Personal, Trading. It feels GOOD ticking off an item on that list, and starting fresh and carrying over important notes every week when I clear it off and refresh. I am reminded to keep focused and my productivity is much increased. HIGHLY recommended. Its so important to keep written goals or we get lost along the way.

    as Chris says, you are what you trade. trade with discipline.


    1. robertsweetman Post author

      Hi Miles – great to hear from you and thanks for the awesome observations

      I agree on the motivation and desire point but as I wrote in my post my issue has been around a personality trait which (for me) has had the power to over-ride these two aims, however much energy I put into them.

      Personally I found this discovery extremely interesting since very few bits of ‘pop-psyche’ go anywhere near this type of internal behaviour modification. Now that I’ve uncovered the underlying ’cause (what is now a negative habit) I can make the necessary adjustments to re-frame it to work in my favour.

      The question about ‘what am I doing’ with respect to patterns and setups is bang on. This is something I’m more than happy to share BUT I don’t believe it would be fair on those people that I’ve learned from to do this openly on my blog here. Essentially I’ve paid other people (inc. Chris) for their perspective and experience so me just broadcasting stuff would (I think) be unfair on them.

      However I’ll see if I can use Google groups to share some of this stuff with you. Then at least I know I’m not cutting anyone’s legs off – you should see something on this from me in your email later/tomorrow a.m.

      I love whiteboards. I am the boss of these. I have two 😉

      Best wishes from over here



  2. Simon

    Robert, It’s great to have a team talk, discuss what formation and tactics the team will use, but not beats actually playing the game.

    Crap analogy aside, I think the risk for you is you’re going to build yourself a mental framework which will get a beating when you start to trade on a regular basis. Regardless of what you do prior, nothing will prepare you for the lessons you’re going to receive when actually in the market on regular basis.

    The mental realignment that needs to occur to eliminate trading errors and ill-discipline i.e. staying out of the market until your edge is present, not jumping in, not hesitating, taking losses, taking profit, holding on to winners can only (IMO) be brought about when actually facing those scenarios, and facing them over and over again.

    I found consistent profitability through letting the market show me what lessons I needed (and still need, albeit to a lesser degree). I underpin this with solid basics (my plan, recording all trades in detail etc) and constantly work on my psychology which is heavily influenced by Mark Douglas’s work.

    I can’t see how I could have got this point any other way than making frequent trades.

    1. robertsweetman Post author

      Hey Simon – thanks for the very astute comment – bang on as per usual.

      Having finally uncovered the cuckoo in the nest this is exactly my next step.

  3. Diane

    Hi, Rob
    I believe the first question any trader has to ask is: Have I got a trading system that works, has been tested and I have some confidence in? If not, then all the psychology assistance available will not help the trader. I agree with Simons comments about the lessons, mental realignment and monitoring that will be part of the trading journey once you go live. There is no substitute for experience.

    In order to trade sucessfully, there needs to a process driven approach. When a trader works in a commercial environment, their performance, risk matrix and returns are being constantly monitored by a mentor/experienced trader. As retail traders, we are accountable to no one but ourselves. This is a added challenge retail traders have considerble difficulty with.

    If you work in a process drive environment, that can be an advantage as the skills are transferable. I have been self employed for 30 years and I have been able to take the organisational and business planning skills into my trading. I have to be accountable in my business for its performance and profitability and the same with trading.

    Anyway as an experiment/challenge, I am running a pilot trader coaching programme with 2 new traders. The challenge is to take them through the basics of trading, research trading ideas & systems, find a trading system that suits them, backtesting etc and onto a live account. They are doing all the work, I am providing the structure to save them time and confusion. The idea is drip feed rather than head first!

    At the end of the day, I believe that most if not all successful traders have adopted this process driven approach by working it out through trial and error, having assistance from a company they have had some training or adapting skills from jobs etc There may be some I have missed.


    1. robertsweetman Post author

      Hi Diane

      I think your observations are bang on and there’s nothing missing from your assessment

      Currently adding a lot of ‘process’ to the mix 😉

      Thanks for the comment




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