The hardest thing about trading is not the math, the method, or the stock picking. It is dealing with the emotions that arise with trading itself. From the stress of actually entering a trade, to the fear of losing the paper profits that you are holding in a winning trade, how you deal with those emotions will determine your success more than any one thing.
To manage your emotions first of all you must trade a system and method you truly believe will be a winner in the long term.
You must understand that every trade is not a winner and not blame yourself for equity draw downs if you are trading with discipline.
Do not bet your entire account on any one trade, in fact risking only 1% of your total capital on any one trade is the best thing you can do for your stress levels and risk of ruin odds.
With that in place here are some examples of emotional equations to better understand why you feel certain emotions strongly in your trading:
Despair = Losing Money – Trading Better
Do not despair look at your losses as part of doing business and as paying tuition fees to the markets.
Disappointment = Expectations – Reality (more…)
To use a life insurance analogy, most people who become involved in the stock market don’t know the difference between a 20 year old and an 80 year old. Investing in the market without knowing what stage it is in is like selling life insurance to 20 year olds and 80 year olds at the same premium.
You can’t listen to the news. You have to go with the facts. You need to use a logical approach and have the discipline to apply it. You must be able to control your emotions.
1) Trading is a probability game. You can’t be a perfectionist and expect to be a great trader. Your losses (that you hope will return to breakeven) will kill you.
2) Jumping in too soon or getting in too late. These mistakes come from traders not having a well-defined plan of how they will enter the market. This positions the trader as a reactive trader instead of a proactive trader, which increase the level of emotion the trader will feel in reacting to market movements. A written plan helps make a trader more systematic and objective, and reduces the risk that emotions will cause the trader to deviate from his plan.
3) Not taking profits on winners and letting winners turn to losers. Again this is a function of not having a properly thought-out plan. Entries are easy but exits are hard. You must have a plan for how you will exit the market, both on your winners and your losers. Then your job as a trader becomes to execute your plan precisely.
4) Great traders don’t place their own expectations on to the market’s behavior. Poor traders expect the market to give them something. When conditions change, a smart trader will recognize that, and take what the market gives.
5) Emotional pain comes from expectations not being realized. When you expect something, and it doesn’t deliver as expected, what occurs? Disappointment. By not having expectations of the market, you are not setting yourself up for this inner turmoil. Douglas states that the market doesn’t generate pain or pleasure inherently; the market only generates upticks and downticks. It is how we perceive and respond to these upticks and downticks that determine how we feel. This perception and feeling is a function of our beliefs. If you’re still feeling pain when taking a loss according to your plan, you are still experiencing a belief that your loss is somehow a negative reflection on you personally.
6) The Four Major Fears – fear of losing money, being wrong, missing out, leaving money on the table. All of these fears result from thinking you know what will happen next. Your trading plan must approach trading as a probabilities game, where you know in advance you will win some and lose some, but that the odds will be in your favor over time. If you approach trading thinking that you can’t take a loss, then take three losses in a row (which is to be expected in most trading methods), you will be emotionally devastated and will give up on your plan.
Your biggest enemy, when trading, is within yourself. Success will only come when you learn to control your emotions. Edwin Lefevre’s Reminiscences of a Stock Operator (1923) offers advice that still applies today.
- CautionExcitement (and fear of missing an opportunity) often persuade us to enter the market before it is safe to do so. After a down-trend a number of rallies may fail before one eventually carries through. Likewise, the emotional high of a profitable trade may blind us to signs that the trend is reversing.
- PatienceWait for the right market conditions before trading. There are times when it is wise to stay out of the market and observe from the sidelines.
- ConvictionHave the courage of your convictions: Take steps to protect your profits when you see that a trend is weakening, but sit tight and don’t let fear of losing part of your profit cloud your judgment. There is a good chance that the trend will resume its upward climb. (more…)
I’ve heard from many traders that they often take decisions based on instincts. Actually, all non-quants use intuition in some form or another. If you are not using a program that takes all signals that your system produces, how do you decide between several equally good looking trading setups with similar risk to reward? Do you take them all or do you concentrate on only a few? The odds are that you are doing the latter and your ultimate choice for capital allocation is subconscious.
Even though we are defined by our decisions, we are often completely unaware of what’s happening inside our heads during the decision-making process.
Feelings are often an accurate shortcut, a concise expression of decades’ worth of experience.
The process of thinking requires feeling, for feelings are what let us understand all the information that we can’t directly comprehend. Reason without emotion is impotent. (more…)
DISCIPLINE: The trader must have the ability to control themselves and follow a plan. Discipline is a required skill in trading without it there is no edge, you are either a gambler or simply trading off fear and greed. You will not be successful, instead you will be gamed by those in control of their emotions.
RISK MANAGEMENT: Risk management must be a top skill for a trader to even survive in the markets. You must structure your risk per trade to be no more than risking 1% or 2% of your trading capital. You have to be able to survive 10 losses in a row. These strings of losses come around more often than a new trader would suspect. If you lose just 5% of your trading capital in each of ten trades you will be down almost 50% and need a 100% return just to get back to even. At this point you are ruined.
PASSION: A trader must love to trade, without a passion for the markets and trading the new trader will not survive the learning process because anyone with common sense would believe that it was not worth the struggle. Passion will be needed to bring a trader through the learning curve and later the losing streak.
“The market does not know you exist. You can do nothing to influence it. You can only control your behavior.”
“The ocean does not care about your welfare, but it has no wish to hurt you either. You may feel joy on a sunny day, when a gentle wind pushes your sailboat where you want it to go. You may feel panic on a stormy day when the ocean pushes your boat toward the rocks. Your feelings about the ocean exist only in your mind.”
“A sailor cannot control the ocean, but he can control himself. He studies currents and weather patterns. He learns safe sailing techniques and gains experience. He knows when to sail and when to stay in the harbor.”
“When joy sweeps you off your feet, you will make irrational trades and lose. When fear grips you, you’ll miss profitable trades. A professional trader uses his head and stays calm. Only amateurs become excited or depressed because of their trades.”
I still need to control my emotions, thus I am still an amateur trader. No matter how much I try to pretend to myself to not get excited or fearful, its impossible. You just cant lie to yourself… This is the one other skill I need to work on psychology wise.
On a side note I would like to share with you what attracts me about trading (more…)
“Intuition although seemingly spontaneous, apparently emotional, stems from a form of “information” that has become built-in from past experience. Discipline means choosing what to do unencumbered by the fear of making a mistake. Confidence means trusting our intuition that what we “see” is what we “know.” There’s no escaping to the external, to the objective, and no standing on the shaky ground of emotions. So the question becomes, How do we create within ourselves the heroic condition of confidence wherein risk is not danger but life?
Emotions, emotions and emotions, trading will always full of them, movement of the market based on them. Our rush to buy or sell sometimes overflow our plans. The common traders question was “Why did I do this or do that?”
What is driving us to get into the market when we are not prepared and exit on completely different prices, which completely disagree with our plans? Two major factors, Greed and Fear.
Greed come when market goes as we expected then we want more! We believe it will continue for very long time. We forgot that everything changes. For successful trading you need a good strategy and discipline to execute that strategy. No matter how good it is, trading is completely useless without proper execution of the strategy.
We Fear when we afraid to miss the profitable move or to loose the money. And until fear and greed will dominate us, our results will be very unstable. And worse if our money management is not the strongest point, this is the weakest point for emotional traders, will soon will be out of money, before we even had a chance to establish ourself as a trader.