Have you ever experienced self-doubt when trading?
It can be like that problem golfers sometimes get. They start snatching at the ball as they line up for a putt – they call it the ‘Yips’.
What should be a gentle, smooth, swing of the putter ends up a jerky disaster.
One theory is the yips are caused by a negative state of mind the golfer slips into. And a similar thing can happen when it’s time to pull the trigger on a Forex trade…
You can have the perfect trading system with a proven positive edge but still feel resistance when it comes to actually pressing the button on a trade.
The ‘trading yips’ can sometimes come off the back of a little string of losing trades… or maybe after the trader has just scaled up their normal trading size – the increased money at risk now having an impact on performance…
And I’ve been through it myself… watched in open mouthed amazement as the market printed perfect setups and accelerated away to boundless profits…all the while, my finger hovering over the mouse button, unwilling to make the trade.
It’s a pretty common hurdle traders must navigate from time to time. There are even trading psychologists to help.
But don’t worry about paying their consultancy fees…
I’m sharing two of their techniques with you today, for free!
So this all goes back to a presentation we were once given by an external trading coach…
I thought it a bit far-fetched at the time, but it is in fact an incredible powerful and insightful exercise. Why not try it out and see if it could help you too?
(Maybe keep it tucked up your sleeve ready for when you make the next big step up in your trade size.)
So first of all, the coach had us try to isolate the thoughts that ran though our mind as we thought about our trades and he then got us to write those thoughts down.
He then had two ideas to help rid you of any recurring negative thought patterns and get yourself into an optimum mental state for trading. They both revolve around holding certain images in your mind…
The Bulldozer Boss method
The first method was to imagine that you actually traded for a real browbeater of a boss, someone who would punish you for any lapse in discipline.
We were all trading our own accounts and weren’t actually answerable to anyone – not the ideal recipe for strict self-discipline.
So the Bulldozer Boss method was kind of surrogate for the kind of enforced discipline you might find in a more traditional work environment.
Now one of the guys really took this one to heart. He visualised himself working for some kind of Victorian tyrant who would do horrible things if he made the slightest deviation from his trading plan.
His vision was like something from a Charles Dickens story. He did a drawing of his grim overlord and kept it blue-tacked to the side of his trading screen… he even had names for his master’s imaginary henchmen!
I mean, it was verging on some kind of twisted fetish. But if it gave him an edge in his trading, who are we to judge?
The other method – the one I found worked best for me – was called The Cinema of the Mind and I’ve since seen it in various books about hypnosis and improving mental performance.
It’s all about imagining yourself doing the things you need to do to get the results you actually want.
The idea is your subconscious mind works best on your behalf if it has a solid goal to aim for. This is how to make the goal clear and solid…
Here’s the Cinema of the Mind method, step by step:
1) Imagine yourself sitting in the cinema. Make it a relaxing and comfortable place to be.
2) On the cinema screen, imagine a film of a trader performing exactly how you’d like to. You could visualise him entering trades without a moment’s hesitation, taking profits easily when the time is right, and totting up his trading profits on a big calculator.
3) Now get out of your imaginary cinema seat and walk up to the cinema screen. Step-in to the picture on the screen, notice how your feelings change and pay attention to all the details you are able to imagine – the sights, sounds and smells of the trader’s immediate environment. Enjoy being in this film for a while.
4) Step out of the screen and return to your imaginary seat. Look back up to the screen and see the trader is actually you. Watch yourself making the same immaculate trading actions. Notice how your feelings change and enjoy watching yourself for a while.
5) Keep practicing stepping in and out of the film. Crank up the attention to detail and feeling as you do – you’ll find your visualisation skills improve with practice. The more you work on this the better placed you’ll be to bring your vision into play whenever you feel doubt creeping in to your real-world trading.
I’ve found the Cinema of the Mind technique can really help raise your game. I still use it for 10 minutes as I go to bed (and you can use it to help improve any area of your life – not just trading).
And if raising your inner-game is something you’d be interested in reading more about, I’ve got just the book for you…
Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
This is one of those books that has the Cinema of the Mind method laid out it more detail…
It was written by a plastic surgeon in the 1960’s. He noticed even after ‘curing’ physical disfigurements, some people still held a very negative self-image of themselves.
It was almost as though the surgery had never even taken place. He concluded the true image we hold of ourselves – the one we actually fulfill by the actions we take – is one we hold in our mind, not the one we see in the mirror.
See yourself as a profitable trader, get that image firmly ingrained, and you cannot fail to act in line with it.
“A human being always acts and feels and performs in accordance with what he imagines to be true about himself and his environment.”
You can pick up a used copy of Psycho Cybernetics on Amazon for two or three pounds. A little tweak or adjustment to your self-image as a trader can have a massive impact to your bottom line profit. Can you afford not to at least take a look?
This book really does come highly recommended – check it out here.
Be Prepared: Market Moving Data Coming This Week (London Time – BST)
Wednesday 5th February:
09:28 UK Services PMI GBP
13:15 US Non-Farm Employment Change USD
15:00 US ISM USD
Thursday 6th February:
12:00 UK Interest Rate Decision GBP
12:45 EU Interest Rate Decision EUR
13:30 EU ECB Press Conference EUR
Friday 7th February:
13:30 US Employment Numbers* USD
* Watch out for wild volatility.
I hope you enjoyed this issue. Watch out for that US Employment numbers report on Friday. Word on the street is they are miles out with the anticipated figures. Could be an even wilder ride than usual!