As a trader I had to learn how to see myself in such a way where I would not be limited by just one perspective of myself and my own self-image. I realized that I could see different perspectives and recognize different parts of me that made up MY SELF as a whole. Beginning to see myself in such a way allowed for me to recognize the Ego part, which is the part that is concerned with the self-image and how I may be perceived from my own perspective as well as others. Most people are dominated by the self-image obsessed ego and don’t even know it. I don’t think I would know it so well if I didn’t go through the process of becoming a better trader and learning to let go of the needs of the ego and self-image so that I could be freed from the mental slavery and a life controlled by my ego with the traps that come along with it.
So let’s break it down further for anyone that is a little lost. I believe most of you will know what I am talking about if you have traded for long enough to experience the pain and discomfort that trading with the ego in control can bring.
I had to realise that there are different parts of me that make up the greater whole which is MY-SELF and these parts can get involved in the game of trading on any given day and many different ways. Quite often leading to internal conflict, where different parts want different things.
There is parts that take me TOWARDS my objectives and parts that can take me AWAY from them. Some times unintentionally!
For a typical trader their more conscious, rational and logical thinking part doesn’t typically run the show in the moment, it would be great if it did but by default it typically isn’t the way for most of us human beings. It’s the more automatic reactive unconscious mind that is fuelled by feelings and emotions that takes over when you become engaged in the game. Many can mistakenly blame the feelings and emotions as the culprits, however as human beings you will always have feelings and emotions and they will not just disappear as some people may like to make you think and believe. Some try and block them out and that makes things worse because then we end up repressing them. This idea of being emotionless like robots came from traders who thought they could be robots whilst trading mechanical systems and not have to think and feel anything. Well that is only possible if you stop being human, as feeling and emotions are natural and part of being human and is a part of our natural biological, physiological and psychological makeup.
We do have a choice to either let the feelings and emotions work for us or against us. It all depends on how we process them and use them. Think of feelings and emotions as indicators in your trading. When something doesn’t feel right, the first thing you have to recognize is if this came from the perspective of the ego and self-image? Or is it from the trader part that is actually trying to help you? – these are the two common parts that play a part in a traders lifestyle and can lead to internal conflict.
When you do this you will recognize if the feelings\emotions are in line with your plan and your expectancies based upon market structure or are they feelings trying to take you away from this? Typically anything pulling you away is from the perspective of self-image and ego. Meaning that it’s concerned with if it goes wrong and you lose, it’s concerned with what happened in the past when there was a situation where it went bad. This insecurity will naturally create feelings of doubt and fear and you can’t stop it if you think you are the ego and if you are too identified with it! HOWEVER these fears and doubts are not necessarily true threats in the moment, it’s just the fear of the unknown. If you become aware in the moment that the doubt\fear is from the ego and that is just a part of you, you can disassociate yourself from it and therefore release being controlled.
That’s why embracing uncertainty is essential as a trader because the ego and self-image want the security of certainty. There is no certainty, but your ego wants certainty and when it doesn’t have it you will receive all those thoughts, feelings and emotions to doubt what you are doing. You ego is scared of the unknown and not knowing for sure!
Although this quite naturally happens for most traders (whether they know it or not) there is a way to engage more with the “Trader Part” of us and just recognize the Ego part. Don’t fight the ego, instead you just have to raise your awareness of it and practice letting it know you know what it’s up to and how it works. If you watch and observe the ego you release it’s control over you, because you are aware that it’s NOT the whole you, it’s just a PART of you.
Here are some steps to Raise awareness and align more with Trader Part so that Belief and Confidence may over shadow the doubts\fears cast by the ego.
Going through the process of consciously setting goals\objectives and risk parameters for the day are essential. This sets you up with a plan to embrace and defeat the ego.
Doing your Pre Market Analysis is also essential so that you have a plan that guides you towards focusing and engaging in certain scenarios rather than trying to make it up as you go along whilst trying to trade anything and everything. Therefore having your plan for the day has to be in place to guide you, so that your unconscious mind is at least aware of what it needs to align with! I call these visions because I visualise the ideas in mind’s eye and ensure that when the ego begins to whisper I do not sway and I can keep reminding myself of why I should have belief and confidence in what I am going to do whilst I perform. You have to be like the Eye of the Hurricane in the moment and let everything happen around you whilst you stay focused and undisturbed.
Trading inevitably helps you realize that there is an ego part of you that is concerned with its self-image and it has different objectives than you as a trader should have. The ego part is concerned with whether you win or lose, and how much, it is ruled by fear and doubt because with any sign of danger it must protect itself to keep looking good to itself and others. It’s all about self-image for the ego! It can’t see the bigger picture and is very short term focused because it wants results right now, so that it can prove to itself how worthy it is and how special it is! BUT the big problem is all this wanting, needing whilst being identified with the ego takes you away from how trading should be approached if you wish to succeed! Because Ego is controlled by Fear and Doubt it’s easy to allow for you feelings and the energy behind them to keep you occupied because there is always a sense of danger, pain or discomfort. Naturally human beings try to avoid such situations and that is exactly why they focus on this! We focus on what we do not want! This is Trading NOT to lose and is NOT “Trading to Win”.
The issue is as traders we have to embrace these issues of the ego and self image whilst remaining in control.
The other Trader Part that helped create the plan is still there and present within our mind and body, but what we do in these situations is give special attention to the Ego part instead of the trader part. Yet, the trader part knows what we need to do and what we need to focus on, however you MUST give it that special attention and much more attention than your ego!
Start listening to the Trader Part in the moment rather than the ego part. This can be achieved through lots of practice and new experiences, through which we can create new habits and ways of thinking.
SO how to do we do this?
First you MUST raise your awareness of the SELF as a whole. You must be able to raise your conscious awareness in the MOMENT to the internal conversations that you have with yourself, you have to listen but with an objective to find the “Trader Part” and release the ego part.
You have to raise awareness and listen to the Trader part that is there, through focus and attention listen and even reaffirm by saying out loud what needs to be done and why by always referring back to you plan. This CAN be achieved as I do this every time I trade. Inner Silence and Stillness are tools that you need to tackle this. However it takes time and practice. The best tool help raise your awareness to this level is DAILY Meditation for around 10-15 minutes at the beginning of the day and again at the end of the day to start with then over time increasing towards 20-25 minutes meditation as experience is gained and you become more comfortable with the joy and peace meditation can bring you. Don’t expect changes overnight! Although you will instantly feel more relaxed and silent within after one session, you must meditate daily for at least 3-4 weeks to start really feeling the benefits of raised conscious awareness so that you can use that state in the moment. The longer you do it the better it gets as your awareness continues to increase.
There are many forms of meditation, and some people that are new to it will find that using meditation music and guided meditations will help. You can find many on-line and even YouTube. Consider looking up binaural beats and isochronic audio technology as this can help people who are new to meditation break into the deeper and more relaxed states of awareness where brainwave activity is slowed down through the meditation from the typical waking state which is in Beta brainwave frequency, towards Alpha-Theta brainwave frequency.
I like to use Neuro Programmer 3 from Transparent Corp whilst I am actually trading with some positive affirmations on loop. You can check it out HERE: You can download a free trial and it lets you create your own tracks, which is awesome.
However I also personally like to practice Qigong and Yoga techniques for meditation as they help me get used to becoming self-aware, in the moment and more silent within as well as many health benefits. Practising silence and stillness within helps you listen to your inner self better and much more effectively. Of course do not forget about the simple things like Diet and Nutrition, this can change how you feel on a consistent basis and therefore effect you state of awareness. Eat healthy, perform regular exercise and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. The simple stuff can take you along way. Being a Trader is much like being an Athlete as your whole lifestyle has to change to stay in Peak States for Performance.
So there you have it … I believe I have just shared some of the most important techniques to me as a trader and I hope that you will find it useful to help you progress further on you journey too.
Kam Dhadwar of http://www.l2st.co.uk