Monthly Archives: March 2016

Emotionally Fragile

I googled it… my last post on this blog was 224 days ago.

Extrapolating that frequency out means my next post after this one will likely be some time in late 2o18 but let’s go for it anyway – someone may get something useful out of it…

The most efficient evolutionary tool I’ve found (apart from failure in another area) has been attempting to become a trader. It’s ironic that my reasons for pursuing this goal were initially entirely material and definitely self-serving. NO altruistic or higher ideals whatsoever came into picking this as something I wanted to learn how to do.

I stepped onto this path solely with the intention to solve a bunch of internal issues with the external balm of huge amounts of cash. Obviously you’re setting yourself up for disappointment when most of the levers that govern success lie within and you can’t seem to look in the mirror…

Now I’m not going to flippantly end up concluding that ‘trading success is all psychology’ because that’s a throw away comment like saying ‘it’s just water’ to encompass every way in which water can exist on the planet. Which bit of psychology is key? What parts hold more weight? ‘It’s psychology’ is of literally f**k all use.

Here’s my suggestion and it’s best if you think about ‘learning to trade’ as if you’re about to pick up any challenging and difficult skill. There are only two requirements for success.

  1. Practice doing the actual thing
  2. The emotional resilience required to continue when it gets difficult (and it will)

If you’re trying to learn to trade and you find that you’re emotionally fragile, you’re going to have a bad time until you’re able to recognise this fact and do something about it.

As part of my response to the quote ‘trading is all about psychology’ I started meditating regularly – I kept that up for two years before it became a more infrequent pursuit. If you know anything about Vipassana practice you’ll know it allowed me to quieten my babbling thoughts and blessed me with a level of mental stability.

At this point though I stopped though because I didn’t know where to take it next. I’d got the bottom of most of my ‘issues’ and there was a degree of calm, happiness even. Foolishly I thought I was ‘done’.

However, that was two years ago and since then I’ve not been able to take my trading (and other pursuits) forward in a way I’d expect things to unfold… Why is that?

Recently I began to teach myself Javascript so I’ve been able to experience that with my previous forays in trading lending some pointers on ‘how to learn’. One interesting parallel leaps which forms the point of this post. I’ve hit the same roadblock with coding too…

In the first place it ‘looks’ simple but in point of fact it turns out the challenge, like trading, requires emotional strength and resilience to push through to where it makes sense and you can achieve a level of competence. Emotional resilience, it appears, is not something I’m particularly blessed with.

Seeing the glimmer of this point I was able to thread together a number of approaches to life and my behaviour where this trait has let me consistently let me down.

  • Not stepping out of my comfort zone
  • Compulsive/habitual reaction to emotional stress
  • Avoidance rather than addressing an issue
  • Unwillingness to fight my corner

It’s pretty interesting to realise that a major pivot is required in order to actually meet/overcome the barriers in your own mind.

Having used meditation and mindfulness to quell the intellectual chatter in my head I’m compelled to take the same route in exploring the boundaries of my emotional reactions to various things/events and situations. Observance, acceptance and letting things pass through is basically what I’m talking about here. While this quote relates to thoughts I’ve butchered it to address my challenge…

In meditation, leave your front and back doors open.

Let your thoughts¬†emotions come and go; just don’t serve them tea.

Now that I’m intellectually aware of this challenge I can tackle it by:

  1. Doing the thing, since this means building my emotional resilience
  2. Not avoiding doing the thing

It took 2 years to sort my mind out but I suspect this may take longer.