In trading, we often experience strong emotions that disorient us and impact our decisions. As we mentioned in previous articles, all the traditional methods that people use to avoid and eliminate difficult emotions do not work. This is because we fail to understand the way our mind works. Our mind does not like to be pushed or fought against because it then strikes harder. Try not to think of something, and you may soon realise you are obsessing over it.If our attempts for mental and emotional control, push us deeper into the hole, then we maybe missing out on something. We may simply not know the way to deal with our difficult emotions, that’s why we keep struggling.
Unfortunately, the struggle cannot be won. We cannot beat fear & anxiety,that’s the truth. What we can do, is learn not to act upon them. We can still be anxious but not do what our anxiety is telling us. For example, feeling anxious may evoke the thought “Close this trade!”. Do we really need to listen to this and do as we are ordered? Cannot we not choose not to act upon the thought, and instead act according to our trading plan?
Yes we can but it is not that easy. The natural, familiar course of action is to follow our mind. We need to build the skill of choosing not to buy into every thought and one way to cultivate this is via mindfulness. Mindfulness is the shift of our attention to the present moment on purpose and non-judgmentally. It can be applied to almost everything we do, from walking to washing the dishes or lying down as we rest from a stressful day. The most basic but powerful mindfulness exercise is mindful breathing. When we breathe mindfully, we do not aim at relaxation. Our main purpose is to just observe, non-judgmentally. Just watch the breath.
Focus your attention on your breathing.
Do not try to change the way you breathe or feel more relaxed. Just observe your breath as it is.
Is it fast or slow? Is it shallow or deep? Can you feel its temperature?
Notice how your stomach expands with the in-breath and relaxes with the out-breath.
During this exercise, your mind may wander and start thinking about a lot of other things. This is fine. This is the nature of the mind.
Just acknowledge your mind’s wandering and gently bring back your attention to the breath.
Always remember: Your sole purpose is to observe the breath.
Your mind may bring you away from it or may try to judge or evaluate the process.This is the nature of the mind.
Just observe its chatter and gently bring your awareness back to the breath.
Try to practice mindful breathing every day for at least a week; the purpose is to center yourself in the here and now of your experience, while allowing the mind to continue its chatter. Notice how your mind (thoughts) always pulls you in and out of the present. And notice how you can tame it, just by being in the now.
For a visual presentation of the above exercise, please take a look here.