“What makes trading so fascinating and, at the same time, difficult to learn is that you really don't need lots of skills; you just need a winning attitude.” Mark Douglas

Winners are aware of an inner state which wants to expand. This inner state has an image of perfection. How we see ourselves is how our reality will reflect over time.

As you plan, execute, and manage your trading, do you experience the feeling of happiness, contentment, and motivation?  Do you enjoy what you are doing? Are you having fun when you trade?

The answers to these very important questions will give you a barometer reading on your overall emotional tone in your trading career at any given time.  If you overwhelmingly answered YES to these questions, you have what psychologists call “emotional well-being”.

A person with a winning image will frequently experience the following feelings:

  • A positive mood, or happiness
  • Positive expectations, or optimism
  • Positive physical state, or energetic
  • Feeling of fulfillment
  • Favorable relationships with themselves and others

“A particular train of thought persisted in, be it good or bad, cannot fail to produce its results on the character and circumstances. A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstances.”
James Allen (author of As a Man Thinketh)

The Importance of Creating a Winning Image

Maxwell Maltz, author of Psycho-Cybernetics, as well as many others have written about the importance of having high self esteem. What one thinks of himself on the inside is what appears on the outside in his world.

“Your nervous system cannot tell the difference between an imagined experience and a ‘real’ experience.” Maxwell Maltz

Do you like the world you are seeing yourself in at the present moment? Do you like the way you are trading? Do you like the income you are receiving from your trading? If the answer is no, then maybe it is time to take action and work on changing the inner picture you have of yourself so your outer world begins to change.  You have this old picture of yourself, so it's time to create a new picture of the person and the results you desire in your life. You start by visualizing; dream in your mind of the life you would like to have. Take time to see and feel this life you desire. You do not have to know every detail.

Many times, fear of the unknown paralyses people. Have the end result in mind. You must be willing to accept the challenges along the way. There will be obstacles, but keep the end result you desire in your mind. These obstacles are the pathways to your fulfilled desires. You may even be ridiculed for taking action on the life you desire. Can you take the being ridiculed? Learn to go with the ebb and flow of life. Do not panic. In order to take your visualizations and turn them into fact, you will face what you see as positive and negative experiences.

Are you willing to turn your dreams into reality?

If you say yes, then you are on your way. Repetition will help you fulfill your dreams. Visualize often. See yourself the way you desire. Take time to clear your mind, seeing and feeling what it would be like to live the life of your dreams. Having a winning image will change your life. Do you see conflict in your life? Or, do you see harmony in all situations, knowing and trusting it will all work out.

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self.” Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World

Is it possible to feel good all the time?

We must be realistic as traders, and as individuals. None of us will feel all of these things on a constant basis; they will ebb and flow depending on what life, or the market, may deal to us.  However, research suggests that some may experience much more emotional well-being than others. Some of this variation can be related to an individual's personality traits. How we perceive our wins and our losses, our challenges as well as our goals being reached, will determine how we feel. Do we see them as being good or bad? Or, are they a learning experience from which we can grow.

“A man only begins to be a man when he ceases to whine and revile, and commences to search for the hidden justice which regulates his life. And he adapts his mind to that regulating factor, he ceases to accuse others as the cause of his condition, and builds himself up in strong and noble thoughts; ceases to kick against circumstances, but begins to use them as aids to his more rapid progress, and as a means of the hidden powers and possibilities within himself.” James Allen

How does this all relate to trading?

Most of us experience varying levels of positive and negative emotions as we go through life.  When our lives confirm our values and needs, we enjoy the “emotional well-being” as outlined above.  When life fails to meet our needs, we tend to respond with frustration, reduced energy, and overall unhappiness.  If you are trading well, adhering to your trade plan and succeeding in your efforts, your positive emotions should outweigh the negative ones over the long term. These positive emotions will give you the energy, pride, satisfaction, and overall sense of accomplishment. If you are not trading well, not adhering to your plan, veering off course, and not successful as a trader, your experience will be negative.  You will spend less time having the feeling of satisfaction, energy, and optimism, and negative energy and frustration could take over. This negative energy and frustration can at times compound the problem. If this is occurring, it is time to sit back, visualize and feel the life you desire.

It is important to digest all this and put it in perspective. The optimism and energy generated by the feeling of “emotional well-being” and a winning image are what sustain the trader's success over time.  These feelings enhance concentration, and they can help you as a trader work towards your annual trading goals.  Those traders with a winning image are less likely to stagger off his/her trade plan. This feeling of emotional well-being is a very large element of performing well, because we as humans function best mentally in the environment of emotional wellness.

Many are using the power of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) to improve their experience of life as well their trading results.

Simply said, we think and act best when we have a winning image.

What was your emotional experience at the end of the last trading day?

It is unrealistic to think that you will feel great after every single trading day.  What is more important is the balance, over time, of your positive and negative emotional experience. When you take your emotional temperature at the end of each trading day, you can become a better judge of the specific trading behaviors that help, and hinder, your progress towards your goal as a trader. If, for example, you find that you have been trading too large causing higher-than-planned for losses, not only will you reduce your annual returns, but likely diminish your passion and interest in trading. Learn to focus on the strengths in your trading that bring you the greatest sense of emotional well-being and a winning image.

What about trading without emotion, like “everyone” says to do?

It's been said over and over again that the most successful traders “have a plan, trade the plan”, without any emotion. Trading is a numbers game; emotional engagement in our day-to-day trading can work to our favor if we sustain a positive emotional state of mind, which brings out the best in everyone. We can learn from our losses as well as our wins. Keeping centered so we are not “too high”, or “too low” will allow us to stay emotionally balanced.

Ask yourself again: Do I have the feeling of emotional well-being and a winning image the majority of time in my trading activities? How do you maintain that feeling? Feel free to comment.