Have you ever traded when you were angry? When you were scared? When you were bored? If you haven’t done any of those, you haven’t traded very much yet. Trading from a mental state of anger, fear, or boredom — or other non-useful emotional states, happens for less experienced traders and these conditions invite mistakes — conditions where you don’t follow your rules. More often than not, you lose money when you don’t follow your rules. So what do you do? You change your mental state. But how do you do that?
One way to change your mental state would be to finish trading for the day and come back tomorrow morning. While probably pretty effective, that may not be very useful. As a trader, you want methods with effectiveness — and speed. Of the almost two dozen ways we teach to manage your mental state, one surprisingly simple technique is to pay attention to your breath. It can be as effortless as closing your eyes and consciously breathing in slowly and breathing out slowly for a minute or two. Notice what you are feeling right now, close your eyes and pay attention to breathing slowly, and check how you are feeling after a minute or two. What tends to surprise workshop participants is just how simple and easy mental state management can become once you are familiar with a few good techniques.
Useful Belief — When I am aware of a mental state that is not useful for a task, I can change it.
Question — If you notice yourself in a mental state unconducive to trading well, what could you do to change your mental state? Make a few notes and keep that handy for quick reference by your trading screens for the next time it happens.
In coming issues, we will introduce some more examples of useful questions you might ask yourself surrounding a useful belief. Stay tuned!