Friends with Your Inner Interpreter
Van K. Tharp
of you may have seen this exercise before, but our experiences
change over time so exercises like this are worth repeating.
Think about some problem you have with your
trading. It could be
almost any problem. Perhaps
you have trouble taking profits too soon.
You might get angry when a trade gets away from you.
Perhaps you frequently second guess yourself.
Whatever your problem is, write it down.
You can apply this exercise with almost anything that you
think might be a problem.
Once you have that problem, write down several
statements about the problem. Why
do you think you had the problem?
What caused it? What’s
your reaction to the problem? Your
statements could be almost anything.
You might say things like: “Why do I keep doing that?”
“That behavior just shows that I’m stupid.” “I just can’t
seem to control myself.” “The problem is really nothing, but it
just seems to continually repeat itself.”
These statements are all your interpretation of
the problem. In fact,
without this interpretation, you probably wouldn’t even have a
problem. Thus, perhaps
it’s important to now work with your inner interpreter.
You need to use your imagination with this
exercise. Be willing to
play like a child.
Now that you have listed a problem and some statements about
it, ask yourself how you can best explain the way the problem
you’ve already done that with one of your statements.
If not, that’s your next statement.
Write down what you hear.
In addition, notice the qualities of the voice making the
statement. Where do you
hear the voice—which direction does it come from?
Whose voice is it? Is
it your own? Is it
someone else’s voice?
Now find two more problems and repeat step number one.
Make sure that the problems have some emotional significance
Look at the three statements you’ve written about how your
three problems happened. What
do they have in common? Notice
how permanent and how pervasive the statements are.
Also notice the overall personality behind the voice.
Rewrite the three statements and make them more optimistic,
specific to a time or occasion, and to the place that they happened.
Also make them impersonal so as to separate them from your
Let’s assume that a part of you—your inner
interpreter—is responsible for these statements.
Where does this part of you seem to live?
Notice, once again, where the voice seems to come from.
Think of this part of you as a friend that you created for
some positive intention. Thank
your part for helping
to bring you to where you are today.
It’s really been a friend to you and you need to
Once again, now that you are in communication with your inner
interpreter, ask it to come up with some even more positive excuses
for your three experiences.
Move your interpreter voice to some other part of your
body—say your right shoulder. Change the tone of the voice.
Make it sound like a cartoon character or a famous celebrity
that you like. Try
moving it again and giving it still another new voice.
Listen to that voice go over your new excuses and perhaps
some even more optimistic ones.
Notice how you feel about your interpreter now.
Now let your inner interpreter go to where it feels best.
That may be its original spot or it may be some new place in
your body. Give it the
voice you find most reassuring.
If you get stuck in this exercise, it is okay to
make up an interpreter. When
you do so it will still have a beneficial effect.
In fact, you really never make up anything.
When you make something up, you are just bringing it up from
your unconscious mind.
You’ll find that you suddenly have much more
control over your feelings when you do this.
Your interpretations are never reality.
Instead, they are just judgments, feelings, or beliefs about
some particular event. They
feel real because they give you an emotional response.
But emotions have nothing to do with reality.
They are simply coming from you.
The nice thing about such interpretations is
that they are changeable. They
cost nothing to change, but give you tremendous benefits.
It’s now time to put your inner interpreter on your side.
After all, it is your friend.
Here’s how one person, let’s call him Bill,
went through this exercise. When
he thought of a problem, it was the criticism he got from his spouse
whenever they talked about trading.
He could hear her voice in his head, saying, “trading is
nothing but gambling — it’s a waste of time and has no redeeming
When Bill wrote down some statements about the
problem, he came up with the following.
• I married the wrong
woman. She’s an idiot
and she just doesn’t understand.
• Her parents
instilled an old work ethic in her and trading doesn’t fit that
work ethic—that’s why she gets upset.
• She wants security
and she doesn’t feel comfortable when I tell her about trading.
He noticed that the voice was kind of high
pitched and always seemed to come from the right side of his head.
It even seemed to be coming from an elevated position down
into his head. When he
repeated the exercise with several more problems, the voice had the
same qualities and came from the same place.
When he tried to move the voice, he first put it
in his throat and made it raspy.
This didn’t feel comfortable at all.
However, he didn’t have any problem moving it between his
eyes and giving it a child’s voice.
This seemed very comfortable.
When he made new, more optimistic
interpretations of situations, he found that it was quite easy when
he kept the voice in this position.
As a result, he decided to give his inner interpreter a new
home. Now this part
seems to appreciate him much more and gives him very few problems.
Try this interpreter exercise at least once a
week for the next four weeks. Notice
what happens after you do it and keep practicing.
You could be adding a very valuable tool to your life.
About Van Tharp: Trading
coach, and author, Dr. Van K. Tharp is widely recognized for his
best-selling book Trade Your Way to Financial Freedom and his
outstanding Peak Performance Home Study program - a highly regarded
classic that is suitable for all levels of traders and investors.
You can learn more about Van Tharp at www.iitm.com.