Tag Archives: meditation

Blog update for November

Well that’s just super… WordPress ate my blog so this is a re-type… hence it’s going to seem curt, short and to the point. I can’t remember the jokes from the first version either but take it from me they were hilarious 😉

It’s been two months since my last post and I’ve pretty much taken my brain out of the whole ‘trading’ subject. Ok, that’s a lie. What I’ve been doing is attempting to re-frame how I think about the sharp end of this topic which is placing and managing trades. This has resulted in me realising a few things about the contents of my own brain which I’ll go into.

Developing non-attachment

Really what this comes down to is that I’m too attached to the outcome associated with an action.

This is supremely ironic because in my day job (project manager) I’m very much at home with making decisions and proposing a course of action. Where I think this falls over in trading is that I’m way too attached to the outcome…

‘Attachment is the origin, the root of suffering; hence it is the cause of suffering.’

In my meditation practice being attached to the outcome of a situation means that you fail to see it clearly. That filter of attachment introduces fear, doubt and uncertainty which makes for sh**y trading decisions. Getting in too early and then getting out too early are big ones for me.

So I’ve spent a lot of time re-framing how I perceive myself when trading. In fact what I’m attempting to do is develop what’s called ‘witnessing consciousness’ which is the dispassionate observation of the ‘chatter’ in your own mind. This isn’t trading without emotion, this is avoiding being triggered by emotions that do arise – think of this as being able to look at yourself doing something from the outside.

This leaves room for intuition/fear/emotion etc. but it means that you’re looking to create a ‘gap’ between feeling and action which is based on trading experience and reason. It’s an attempt to short circuit your screaming monkey brain which is trying to throw pooh at the monitor 😉

Being here now…

I have consistently attempted to push my life forwards and then gotten incredibly frustrated when it’s failed to move at the speed I’d like. I’ve recently realised what a waste of energy this is and my disappearance two months ago was really the result of me throwing my toys out of the pram to go and sulk…

There is no good time to start anything new. Waiting for the perfect moment or opportunity to start doing something is preventing you from starting. The trick is simply to start because inevitably you’ll get there a lot sooner because whatever it is that you want to do will probably take you longer than you think anyway… so just start.

If I’d have waited till I knew everything about exercise and nutrition before starting to go to the gym I’d be in even worse shape now if I’d never have started. As it is – seven years later – I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been and I still don’t really know as much as I’d like about what works or doesn’t work for me. A couple of things I’ve tried recently have paid off but again, this is seven years after I began by puking up trying to run round the local park.

Probably because it’s more cerebral and not physical I’ve delayed really starting to get my head around trading till fairly recently – I have been waiting for perfection when it’s clear that may only be reachable in a few more years. The learning isn’t in the learning, it’s in the doing.

So there needs to be a lot more doing.

Forget about the future

I have literally no idea what my life will look like with respect to trading two years from now. What I do know is that thinking/planning/worrying or being concerned about it now is a complete and utter waste of time and effort.

The thing to focus on is the trade I will place tomorrow, then the one after that, then the next one.

In a number of years (as with going to the gym) I will be able to think back to this point and think ‘Aha! look how far I’ve come’. Being overly concerned with the end goal now is a total waste of time and inhibits my freedom of action/movement.

These three things are the same thing

Fear. Fear of making a mistake whether it is with regards to trading or any other topic. Having some idea that I’m able to get to a point of understanding or ‘completion’ in trading/life is essentially an illusion. As with all things you have to engage in experiences and then learn along the way as part of an iterative process. Had I had less fear/concern about the future I’d have got laid a whole lot more by now too…

In my work life I’ve pretty much had enough of these that I know what works. In going to the gym all this time I’m finally getting there where I know what works for me nutritionally. In trading this comes down to knowing way more theory than learning from real experiences.

So the way forwards is to practice non-attachment, to be unconcerned with the distant future and place one foot in front of the other. Then one day I’ll look up and find I’m at the top of the mountain.

Thanks for all the comments / encouragement over the last few weeks. There will be a number of blogs coming out in the next week with stuff I’ve stumbled over as well as some decent trades too so stay tuned and thanks for your patience.

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 😉

Psychology – why it’s so important

Sooner or later if you’re serious about trading you’ll see that as well as people quoting the fact that 80% or people that try just fail you’ll also notice people writing that trading is 80%+ psychology… This simply can’t be a co-incidence 😉

As previously stated part of the reason for me writing this blog is to show that it can be done and to provide a better understanding to others about what is actually involved as a retail person. I’d define ‘retail’ as someone opening a minimum sized spread-betting account and trying to build it from the ground up. Yes, I’m a complete masochist apparently! If you’re reading this as a ‘newbie’ then you probably are too…

Anyway – trading is mostly psychological. If you have issues then being able to analyse your own reaction to dilemmas when trading is going to become a very important skill – and now I’m just waffling in order to avoid getting to the point of this post.

So I basically spent Thursday night awake dealing with the implications of realising that the major challenge I have and have always had (in life and not just trading) is that I’m afraid of being wrong.

As you might appreciate with trading this is a major problem because as a beginner you’re going to be wrong a lot and even as an expert you will still get things wrong. No-one trades with a 100% win rate – if someone knows someone that does then please can they put me in touch and I’ll ask to learn from them…

I’ve been able to break this all the way down to understand the root cause of this fear. I’m not going to detail where this problem came from but I’m happy to explain the implications as far as trading goes.

The fear of being wrong means: –

  1. Hesitating to take good trades and missing opportunities
  2. Lack of confidence in general with regards to my own ideas
  3. Overly focussing on the possible negative outcome

So in summary? Being too pre-occupied about the possibility of being wrong sucks. You can probably extrapolate a whole lot more from this and it definitely reaches out to areas of  my life outside trading.

It’s not even the being wrong that’s the problem… it’s the fear of getting something wrong that reaches out and stops me taking the right action. How f**ked up is that? In regards to trading I know the result of being wrong is that I will get stopped out and ’cause I’m not a moron that’s really not going to have any significant negative consequences.

Thing is though the ‘fear’ part was written into the back of my skull an awfully long time ago and has remained there for decades.

The major silver lining of course is that now I’m aware of the problem it’s something I can sort out – it’s impossible to change behaviour if you’re not aware of it. I’m delighted to have finally figured this out because I’ve been able to join the dots between this one thing and a whole stack of things I need to change. It’s a huge step forward to be able to combat something I can see and I expect tackling this to improve my trading of course.

Psychology in trading? It’s not just important, it’s impossible to escape it. Bring it on 😀