Many traders are their own worst enemies. How is it that Trader A can use the same system as Trader B, but they both see different results?
The answer lies in their execution, which stems from their self-talk. Webster defines self-talk as “one’s constant internal conversation.” Whether you realize it or not, you’re always talking to yourself. And the conversation going on in your head often dictates your actions.
For example, if you’re frustrated because you just had two losses in a row, then your self-talk may go something like this: “I can’t believe this damn market took out my stop twice, and then moved in the direction of my trade by 5 points each time! Either this trading system is awful or the market is out to get me!” Chances are, the next time you go to trade, you’ll remember the conversation you had earlier with yourself and miss out on a trade that could make up for your losses and then some.
To make sure you are using appropriate self-talk, I want to tell you exactly what NOT to say. Following is a list of the top five things a day trader should never say (out loud or internally):
1. “Ah, who cares? It’s only a sim trade.”
You must treat every trade as if you have $1,000,000 on the line. If you trade differently with Monopoly money than you do with your cash account, your trading results will always be inconsistent. To make matters worse, you’ll even develop some horrible habits. Trading can be a great business, but only if you respect it and treat it as one.
2. “I just know this market is going up (or down).”
Have you ever “just known the market’s going up”? Emotional biases like those are deadly to your trading confidence. In fact, what typically happens when you become stubborn and focus on one side of the market? For many, the market punishes their wild behavior.
3. “This market always stops me out.”
If you say it, it shall be so. If you focus on “how bad it is,” you’ll just get more of the same. You must first come to terms with the fact that losing is a part of trading. Sure, people have had winning streaks that have lasted weeks, but eventually we all lose. If you’re losing more than you’re winning, go back and find out if it’s system or execution error.
4. “I’m down $500 for the day. I have to go back and make it up.”
Trying to “dig yourself out of a hole” can lead to revenge trading. Sometimes the best trade is no trade. And the best time to shut it down is typically when the market isn’t cooperating. One of the worst things you can do is try to “force” the market.
5. “This trade setup doesn’t meet my rules, but I’ll take it because I’m bored.
Boredom is one of the top killers of traders. If you take trades just to do something, you’ll surely end up sorry. Just keep this in mind: You don’t need to be in a long or short trade to be actively trading. Being “flat” is a position, and sometimes the best one. Never take a trade because you’re feeling unproductive. Get up and get a glass of water, do some push-ups, or take the dog out.
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