When I am talking to a prospective coaching client, one of the questions that frequently comes up is about my success rate, or clients that don’t progress. A professional trader and potential client asked me this question today.
This is a great question because it has stimulated my own thinking.
As a trader, I am all about pattern recognition (by the way, neuroscience is finding out more about how pattern recognition works in the brain…my next blog?). What is the pattern of traders that never make it?
We all have deep core needs, some of which have never been met. Most of us compensate (I know I have) and live great lives. However, sometimes that deep unmet need is connected to a belief about ourselves, our world or the markets. This belief becomes a story and this story becomes our lifeline and hope for the future. We will protect our belief in this story like life itself.
As a result, we are unable to see the market for what it is when it doesn’t fit our story.
If we felt ignored in our early years, we might create a story that successful trading will bring us acclaim. If we were told we were stupid, successful trading might prove that we are smart. If we felt powerless, sucessful trading will give us the power we deserve. If we were abused as children, successful trading will release the anger we feel. If we feel unworthy, we may sabotage our results.
For example, a former exchange floor trader who worked for my trading firm was adopted and had always felt unworthy. He had overcome a number of problems in his life (like stuttering) but his lack of self-acceptance was a deep unacknowledged wound. Before I hired him, he had made a lot of money trading then blew out (He lost all his trading capital). After training, he followed our option trading system but had mediocre results.
I brought in a hypno-therapist to work with him. She gave him the tools to visualize and build a new relationship to himself, as someone who was worthy. After a few sessions, he became a tiger in the pit. In fact, he became so aggressive that he got into a fight on the floor. My firm was fined, and I was very happy to pay. He went on to become both profitable and consistent.
But what if he had kept the story that he was unworthy? Would new trading systems, new gurus, new algorithms make a difference? Probably not.
We all have unacknowledged stories. Most of them are benign. But occasionally, one story can be so attached to a core wound that at this time, we can’t let go, even with all the help in the world.
The first step to discovering our own story, is awareness. Here is an exercise that may be helpful in expanding your own self-awareness. When trading isn’t going well, set an alarm to ring in ten minutes or more. When it goes off, freeze! Now take an inventory of your thoughts. Are you telling yourself a story? If you are feeling badly, what drives that feeling? What story creates that feeling? If you find a story, write it down in a journal.
The story is your way of protecting yourself, so give it respect like a wise elder. If you want to take this experience further, see what the story is protecting. You might find a door to a new insight.