Emotions are energy; and if acknowledged as such and put into use you could gain a great deal of momentum towards your trading goals with them. Try this, think about the last great vacation you had or a major experience in your life where you accomplished something outstanding. As you close your eyes and activate the memory hone in on the details of what this event looked, sounded and felt like. As you focus on the sensory specifics you’ll notice that your emotions will begin to intensify. All of the feelings of joy, happiness, excitement and enthusiasm of the original occurrence will return allowing you to feel as though you were right back in that situation, emotional energy.
The same holds true for a painful and negative event. If you activate the memory, for example, of a trade that went sour where you lost a substantial amount of money, the frustration, sadness, anger and resentment will return. The emotional energy released in this exercise is remarkable and it will happen every time you stimulate the state that is connected to this memory. The fact that emotions are energy is well established. Additionally, it is important to recognize how central energy is to your trade. In fact, one of the definitions of trading is that it is energy management. Intensity of intention, focus and attention and the momentum of motivation pointed in the right direction of creating consistency in both mechanical and internal data will develop the capacity for emotional (energy) strength and endurance in the trade. This is a prescription for engaging your A-Game at the platform which translates to bringing your highest and best trader to execute and implement plans in your best interests.
What I am proposing is that, contrary to what many talking heads in and around the trading business say, it is not preferable to try to become an emotional robot. Firstly, it is impossible because emotions are an inextricable part of our humanness. Secondly, when humans make decisions, the research reveals that about 90% of what forms the foundation of the decision is based upon how you feel. Thirdly, even if you could become an emotional robot you wouldn’t want to because if you take away fear, anxiety, doubt, anger and/or envy, then the emotional energy created by those feelings of joy, happiness, calm, inspiration, determination and love must also be deleted; if you can take out some you must take out all. If this were to happen you could not take advantage of the massive positive energy that these emotions bring to the trade. When you feel the energy of confidence, self-esteem, faith and belief in your process and yourself, you are poised to be much more effective in following your rules and keeping your commitments.
Another element of emotion energy management is in the way that you treat yourself before, during and after the trade. Consider this, if you talked to anyone else the way that you spew self-hatred on you, it would either end in fisticuffs or you might be defending yourself in court. Whether talking about trading or not, it is deplorable how people curse themselves, call themselves stupid, idiot, a lousy piece of you know what that is a poor excuse for a human being; and much worse.
Let me give a personal example. Years ago I was the executive director of a clinical group that was part of a large national managed care system. At one time my staff was close to 200 professionals, para-professionals and many line staff. During that stage in my career I began to notice that when I had made a poor decision I would go into a tirade toward myself. I caught myself saying things like, “You’re a worthless leader. What’s wrong with you? You are a disgrace. You’ll never be good enough.” Those thoughts aren’t merely critical, they reflect expectations I’ve struggled with my entire life: 1. I should be able to master things quickly and easily. 2. Learning should not involve frustration. 3. I want to be the best at what I do; anything less is without value. These statements are “limiting beliefs” that I held about myself and these beliefs became the main motivation for the unacceptable ways I talked to myself. I am not the victim of these perfectionistic expectations; a part of me demands that my life conform to the way I expect it to be. When those demands aren’t met anger usually results; it makes me furious that life and my expectations don’t match in the way I want them to. Does this sound familiar? In other words, do you denigrate, devalue and ostracize the part of you that is not living up to the standards of the perfectionistic part. The anger becomes so palpable that people have been known to assault themselves through beating their heads with their own fists!
When you become aware that you are verbally or physically assaulting yourself then you must step back, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are greatly compromising your ability to accomplish the very goals that you have undertaken trading to achieve. It’s not easy but it is necessary to begin one statement at a time to reframe the offending declaration. In other words, change the content and/or the context of the statement. For example, to “You’re a worthless leader.” The reframe might be, “I am developing and I get better with every lesson that I learn.” This process requires you to become self-aware, meaning that you begin to monitor your thoughts and feelings. As you monitor them you will begin to catch yourself thinking and saying unacceptable negative statements. You must approach this as training for a long distance race. It takes a willingness to step-by-step develop the capacity for strength and endurance. In the beginning you may falter a bit, but just like training for that marathon, if you stay the course and take small baby steps you will begin to appreciate you and what you have to offer. After using this process and other mental and emotional tools I was able to substantially change my thoughts and therefore my behavior towards myself. Self-love can be difficult but not impossible.