Some days, trading makes you mad.
Some trading days make you so freaking furious that you suddenly find yourself with a mangled wreck where your keyboard used to be; and to add insult to injury, the recognition that you are now the epitome of trader clichédom is almost enough to make you end it all.
For those of you that have managed to avoid destroying your hardware, you still know what I mean. You fall into the passive aggressive team that gets on twitter and cries about how unfair HFT is, and how your broker is a thief and how the market is rigged, all the while sitting in your pyjamas with a whisky at 10am.
It’s okay, we all have those days. Actually, no – that might be a lie. But we do all have days where trading just sucks. Like any job, you will get days that make you want to quit. Some days, things beyond your control will ruin the best laid plans. You will get days that make you want to punch something so hard, because somehow breaking your hand is infinitely preferable to the twisting in your guts.
I have those days too. I’m not usually a punch the wall kind of girl, but you know….I have my days where it’s kinda tempting.
The last two weeks I have lost 2% of my account just through slippage on my orders.
That made me pretty bloody furious. I don’t mind losing what I intend to lose, but when I lose more than my 1R it really annoys me. And if it were to continue in this vein, I would have to make over 50% a year just to cover the slippage on my orders which clearly is ridiculous.
So what to do? My first instinct was to blame my lying, cheating, broker – after all, it’s rather amusing that I never get slippage on my profit targets, isn’t it?! But the fact is, that kind of thinking is the devil when it comes to trading.
The problem with blame as a trader is that first of all it makes you angry at the unjustness of it all. Blame insinuates that it’s not your fault; and if it’s not your fault, it means you’ve been wronged. Being wronged makes us feel sad, angry, hurt, frustrated and bitter. These feelings will do two things – they will skew your view of the markets you’re trading by introducing doubt and fear, and they will paralyse your ability to fix the problem.
It’s so important to deal with our negative emotions in a positive way. I’m certainly not saying we should ignore them, pretend to be happy and blithely skip into our next trade like the special little unicorns we are – far from it. It’s fine to feel angry and frustrated, and it’s not okay to push those feelings aside or tough them out. That achieves nothing.
Our negative feelings are a warning that something isn’t right. I know that sounds totally obvious, but the problem is that we’ve been bred tough. We smash a keyboard, have a cry, whatever makes us feel better, and we accidentally mistake feeling better for actually being better, which could not be further from the truth. When we feel better, we assume we’re good to go for our next trade, but in reality nothing has been solved.
Having a tantrum does not actually solve the real issue at hand, which is usually either our own incompetence or something that needs adapting within our method.
So how do we diffuse our anger or other negative energy into something productive and good that will allow us to get up and, more importantly, get better?
I’m not sure about everyone else, but rather than allowing myself to get punch-the-wall mad, I get my shoes on and run. This works brilliantly for a couple of reasons. First of all, it works because I’ve made a pro-active, positive decision. I’m in control. Also, it gets rid of all the negative energy that’s coiling inside. The emotion you feel when you’re mad enough to scream, hit or break something is real, useful energy. Don’t waste it; getting out there and doing something that’s strenuous (but has positive outcomes) is the first step to making something good come out of a crap situation.
Making a proactive decision like getting out and running puts you in control, whereas hurling your laptop out the window tips you into a spiral of disorder where you simply can’t think straight.
Once all that negative energy is expelled, you have a clean, clear mind to operate out of. When your mind is clouded by anger, there is no way you can make any kind of useful decision or gain any kind of clarity that will allow you to move forward, so clearing your mind is the first step.
The other benefit of getting outside and running (or whatever your exercise of choice is) is that while your body is busy getting rid of frustration, your mind is free to fix the problem. For some reason, I do my best thinking and solve my hardest problems while I’m exercising. In fact, I wrote this post in my head while I was running this morning…which may or may not be a good example.(!)
So, next time when NFP blows your trade out the water, go for a run, and think. Think, that is, about what YOU can do to solve the problem – don’t be tempted to dwell on the rigged unfairness of your lying cheating stop-hunting broker, because the fact is that no-one can win by focussing on the stuff they can’t change.
We need to focus on solutions and on what we can do to win, in spite of the obstacles that will invariably get in our way.
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