Whether you trade at home or in an office. Trading by its very nature can be a very solitary endeavor.
As socially wired creatures we all have a deep desire to be seen and heard.
As such many traders gravitate towards trading websites and social media platforms to share trade ideas, commentary, and seek validation.
While there are benefits to social media like the sense of community and belonging, there is also a darker side that goes beyond the mere endless digital distractions.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am no fan of social media prescribing more towards a digitally minimalistic approach.
Much has been written about the negative influences of social media outlets and the social media around trading is an especially polarizing environment because everyone on social media lives in an idealized world of carefully curated timelines where there are only winning trades (and traders) and the luxuries that come along with them.
Unfortunately, what can happen is that we can find ourselves inappropriately taking cues from these idealized traders and consciously/subconsciously comparing our results with their one-sided accounts.
The end result is that we fall into the trap of creating false expectations that we can never measure up to.
Left unexamined and unattended this continuous inability to live up to false expectations can turn into a downward spiral that can have damaging consequences to our trading and well being.
Said another way if you take too many cues from the fake lives on social media you will be prone to forget the positives and dwell primarily on the negatives.
Trading is already a tough enough game without the extra baggage of trying to live up to false expectations.
Remember this powerful idea from Denise Shull – trading will make you feel bad most of the time of your let it.
The truth is as traders, we all have our ups and downs, challenges and struggles, victories and defeats, and things we are proud and not proud about.
The key is that we become aware of these elements and learn to find a way to embrace and integrate these aspects of ourselves.
The following exercise is what is called a guided visualization to help conquer false expectations and balance out the positive and negative emotional baggage that we often carry from trading.
I’ll ask you to visualize a scenario in your mind’s eye and the idea is to really explore it to try and find out what’s going on in your hidden depths.
Imagine three rooms.
The first one is a reception room. Then two doors lead off the reception room into the second room and the third room.
In your mind’s eye, think of this three-roomed house as a metaphor for you as a trader.
Go to the reception room. This is where you receive visitors. Here you have your public face on.
The second room is where you feel most unsure, perhaps most angry, regretful, ashamed, frustrated, sad, or dissatisfied.
This is the room of difficulty and vulnerability when it comes to being a trader.
Walk into that room and dare to feel what it feels like in here.
Have a look round and note what you see without judging yourself. As you spend time in this room and feel what it is like to be in here.
Notice your breathing if you were holding your breath or breathing shallowly breathe normally again take one last look round the room with difficulty and then come back into the reception room again.
Back into the public space notice what it feels like to shut the door on the room of difficulty but know that the difficulty is still there.
Now it’s time to open the door to the third room.
This is the room where you feel most positive. In this room, everything is going right. You feel a sense of pride in your work, who you are as a trader, and possibly more pride than you could show in the reception room.
Have a look round the positive room and see what it is that is there.
Keep looking and notice what you feel in this room.
Now come back into the reception room as you stand in the reception room. Have a good sense of what is behind both closed doors.
Remember we all have these rooms – Things we feel great about and things we feel less than great about.
The takeaway is that what is most important is not to compare our own private room of difficult feelings to other people’s public facing rooms.
Put aside perfectionism and the propensity to compare with others. The only person you want to compare yourself against is yourself.
How can you better today than you were yesterday?
How can you take the necessary steps to become a better trader tomorrow?
How are you cultivating awareness and an attitude of acceptance towards the ambiguous feelings that trading brings up?