What makes you vulnerable also makes you human.  And trading forces you to accept your human vulnerability and fallibility.  In many other occupations the embracing of vulnerability can be denied by either being a control freak or being a perfectionist.  But by not courageously turning toward the fear about being unable to control uncertainty, the trader disables himself from becoming the trader who can psychologically manage the uncertainty that must be managed in trading to be successful.

This is the collision that occurs in trading.  That which created success before trading becomes a formula for disaster in trading. There are people who have had success (in arenas outside trading) in controlling outcome with unmitigated certainty, thereby developing a sense of being “large and in charge”.  And in this way they do not have to experience the vulnerability of being powerless over outcome.  Others develop a perfectionistic strategy to control their fallibility.  They want to be right.  And by being right (and with a little persistence and hard work), they control their sense of safety.  This strategy becomes a successful adaptation and is wired into habit by the person’s way of dealing with avoiding the experience of the vulnerability demon.  All goes well... until they get to trading.

The Dilemma of Experiencing Uncontrollable Uncertainty with the Old Mind

Trading is one of the few occupations where you can do everything right and still be wrong.  You will make mistakes and you will land on the wrong side of probability no matter how well prepared you are.  No matter how good the set up is that you have chosen or how much you have studied market structure, trades have a tendency to change right under your nose – and there is no control of this aspect of trading.  You, the trader, cannot force or predict outcome beyond a range of probabilities.  In this way trading forces you to accept your human vulnerability and fallibility. 

The ones who “get this” are the ones that grow into successful traders.  The ones who try to control outcome to prove their adequacy, power, or worth are the ones who struggle with profitability.   Linking performance to your adequacy, mattering, or worth is the all-too-human failure in trading and it shows up in your trading account.  In effect, the trader has given the house (more mature traders) the odds with this Old Mind mentality.

You can hide behind a façade of control for as long as you have capital to burn.  But the mistakes and unforced errors still happen and it shows with certainty in your trading account, or however your performances are judged.  In trading you are faced with the certain fact that you will be wrong often, even if you do everything right.  It is this jarring fact that shakes a shallow sense of self-worth in trading.

Your whole sense of mattering and worthiness is exposed in your trading performances – win or lose.  If that worthiness, competence, or mattering is defined by your performances, you become a “human doing” believing that your performance is a representation of your mattering or worth as a human being. This is where traders come face to face with their vulnerabilities.

A Need for Transition from Old Mind to New Mind

In a successful trading mind you are able to disconnect your sense of adequacy, worth, and mattering from your performances.  And as you are able to do this (which can be taught, by the way), the greater control you have over the emotions of performance.  In short, your authenticity as a human being is not externally dependent upon your trading.  Instead, it comes from your very capacity to risk vulnerability as a human being. 

Performance no longer is a reflection of your worth as a human being.  It simply shows that you made mistakes in your performance – which can be corrected.  In this authenticity you are willing to invest your energy and capital in something (a trade) that may or may not work out.  The fear of being wrong (or having to be right) no longer runs in your veins as you attempt to enter or manage trades.  And the need to prove that you matter (i.e. “large and in-charge”) is no longer tied to your winning a string of trades.

<<Previous     Next>>