Sunday, February 18, 2024

BRETT STEENBARGER'S TRADING PSYCHOLOGY RESOURCE CENTER


Below are resources to help traders become their own trading coaches, improve their trading processes, and develop a positive work-life balance.  All the TraderFeed posts also contain links to valuable resources and perspectives.  


RADICAL RENEWAL - Free blog book on trading, psychology, spirituality, and leading a fulfilling life

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The Three Minute Trading Coach Videos

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Forbes Articles:


My coaching work applies evidence-based psychological techniques (see my background and my book on the topic) to the improvement of productivity, quality of life, teamwork, leadership, hiring best practices, and creativity/idea generation.  An important part of the "solution-focused" approach that I write about is that we can often best grow by focusing on what we do well and how we do it--and then doing more of what works for us.  The key is to know our cognitive, interpersonal, and personality strengths and leverage those in the pursuit of performance. 


FURTHER RESOURCES




I wish you the best of luck in your development as a trader and in your personal evolution.  In the end, those are one and the same:  paths to becoming who we already are when we are at our best.

Brett
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Where Does Trading Edge Come From?

 


It's been interesting returning from my sabbatical and rejoining the online world of trading.  So much noise, so much noise, and yet there are gems out there.  Kudos to the sharing of original research from Concretum Research.  It is a joy to find social media posts that share ideas and address our highest aspirations to understand and master complex realities.

There is an important relationship between trading edge and trading psychology.  Let's explore.

Consider three sources of trading edge:

1)  Directional Movement - We find patterns and relationships in markets that lead to the directional trading of an asset.  An example would be a breakout move that results from a news catalyst.

2)  Relative Movement - We find patterns and relationships in the movement of one asset relative to another one.  An example would be the relative value trading of rates, where we might expect the yield curve to steepen due to inflationary pressures in the economy.

3)  Absolute Movement - We find patterns and relationships in the volatility of assets.  An example would be an options trade that makes money if markets stay in a relatively quiet range after a volatile period accompanied by high options skew.

A rough analogy would be the different ways of scoring of a basketball team.  Against a man-to-man defense, there may be opportunities to drive the lanes and exploit the inside game.  Against a two-three zone defense, there may be opportunities to move the ball on the perimeter and utilize cross-court passes for the outside game.  Against a slower defense, there may be opportunities for long passes and fast breaks for layups.  The point is that no successful team has a single way to win.  They understand the environment in which they're operating and then run the plays that exploit that particular situation.

So it is in trading.  There are times when markets are rotational and relative movement can be exploited.  There are trending periods that call for directional trading.  There are also noisy and quiet periods that lend themselves to edges in volatility space.  A great number of trading opportunities occur when environments change and participants are caught playing the old game rather than changing their offensive alignments.

Great traders, like great sports teams, have multiple ways of winning under varying conditions and circumstances.  When traders lack adaptability and trade limited sources of edge, they find that what worked in one period of time suddenly does not work now.  That leads to frustration, and that can lead to subsequent poor trading.

The problem, however, is *not* primarily one of trading psychology.  The disruption of psychology is the result of the problem, not the primary cause.  It is the limited, inflexible trading edge that makes us vulnerable to changing markets and variable performance.  Expanding what Mike Bellafiore calls our playbooks--our sources of edge in different market conditions--is one of the most powerful ways in which we can fortify our trading mindset.

Further Reading:

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Thursday, December 28, 2023

Three Best Practices of Successful Traders

 


With this post, I'll be taking an extended sabbatical in order to complete my next book and related projects.  I thought a worthy final post would summarize the best practices of traders who have experienced success in 2023, with the aim of improving yourself and your trading processes in 2024.


Best Practice #1:  Moving From Reactive Trading to Planned Trading

Very often, the psychological challenges that traders face occur because they are making trading decisions in the heat of the moment, when they are most likely to be stressed and impulsive.  Successful traders have intensively studied their most successful trading and know what they do best.  They then turn their best practices into trading rules, so that they know exactly what kinds of opportunities to look for in markets, how to express those opportunities, how to size the positions and manage them, etc.  The beauty of knowing what you do best and how you do it is that you can then mentally rehearse the right actions as part of preparation for the day.  Biofeedback and visualization methods can be helpful in that mental rehearsal.  Keeping the right kind of trading journal also helps greatly in focusing on your learning lessons.  Knowing your best trading also enables you to stand apart from markets when opportunity isn't present.  The best traders I work with patiently wait for their opportunity and don't feel a need to trade.  They are like the baseball batter who knows the pitcher well and is willing to wait for a good pitch in the strike zone.

Best Practice #2:  Drawing Upon Your Strengths     

Here is a short personality quiz designed to identify your strengths.  Here is a way of interpreting the results.  The successful traders I've worked with know who they are, what they're good at, and what excites and challenges them.  They also are aware of their flaws and can leverage those into strengths.  Because they find ways of trading that leverage their strengths and are meaningful to them, they have no problem staying engaged in markets during challenging times.  They also draw upon their strengths outside of their involvement in markets, so that their personal activities are an ongoing source of fulfillment.  The right work-life balance isn't just spending time in activities outside of trading; it's making use of the best of you in relationships and in personal pursuits.  The number one occupational hazard for full-time traders is burnout.  When we don't achieve work-life balance based on what is meaningful to us, we lose work efficiency and we become less creative.  I've often advised traders to always make sure they have passions in life that are greater than their passion for trading.  If your only strength is trading, that becomes a vulnerability.

Best Practice #3: Creativity   

The greatest weakness of traders overall is that they are looking at the same markets, processing the same information, and trading from the same charts and ideas as others.  There is very little original in their thinking or trading.  They are like the business owner who sets up a shop to compete with surrounding businesses, but who copies what they do.  If you don't do different and distinctive things in markets, you won't achieve different and distinctive results.  This is a topic I address in the Trading Psychology 2.0 book and that I've also tackled in the blog here and here.  As the book emphasizes, there are specific techniques and processes we can learn to become better and more differentiated idea generators.  The key is to look at new information and integrate information in new ways.  Teamwork--networking with others who have backgrounds and skills different from us--is a valuable practice that can help us expand our horizons.  In my own trading, I have found the best results by focusing on data that others don't look at, from high-frequency measures of buying and selling to patterns of breadth across time frames among equity sectors.    

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I hope this helps you coach yourself to greater success.  As further resources, please check out this series of articles on trading psychology techniques (links to all articles at the bottom of the post); this post on best practices; and this post on learning from our best trades.  If there is a specific trading psychology topic you are interested in, there's a good likelihood you can find something by doing a search for "TraderFeed topic".  So, for instance, a search for "TraderFeed trading discipline" yields relevant posts.  If you are interested in a collection of self-help techniques for your trading psychology, The Daily Trading Coach book might be most helpful.  Best of luck for a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2024!  

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Sunday, December 17, 2023

Can This Market Rally Continue?

 
The U.S. stock market has rallied sharply off its late October lows, bringing us to fresh highs in several large cap indexes.  On Thursday we saw particular breadth strength with over 2500 stocks across the major indexes registering fresh monthly highs and over 1700 making new three-month highs.  At the same time, only 188 and 86 stocks hit new one- and three-month lows.  Thanks to the dovish shift by the Federal Reserve and a dramatic turn lower in interest rates, the buying was broad, lifting both small and large cap shares.  When we see large moves across asset classes--fixed income, currencies, equities--we know that something fundamental is afoot among macro investors.  But what comes next?  After such broad strength, do we see further upside momentum or reversal?  Let's take a look at recent market history.

As I have indicated in the past, strength (as measured by the number of shares making fresh new highs) and weakness (as measured by new lows) need to be considered as relatively independent variables.  To be sure, the two are related--since 2016 (almost 2000 market days), the correlation between 1 month new highs and lows is -.54 and between 3 month new highs and lows is -.46.  What this means is that only about 25% of the variance in new lows is accounted for by the number of new highs and vice versa.  (All data from Barchart.com).

When we examine the historical data since 2016, we can see the importance of considering strength and weakness separately.  For instance, we've only had 24 days in that time where three-month new highs exceeded 1000.  Over the next 10 trading sessions, SPY averaged a loss of -.11%, compared with  +.23% for the remainder of the sample.  Over the next 50 trading sessions, however, SPY gained an average of +3.81%, well more than the average gain of +2.39% for the remainder of the sample.  Indeed, when we have had an explosion of new highs, the market was up 21 times, down only 3 over the next 50 days.  Over the next 10 days, it was up 11 times, down 13.

Conversely, when three-month new lows are below 100 (N = 475), returns have been superior over the next 20 trading sessions, averaging a gain of +1.99% vs. an average gain of +.59% for the remainder of the sample.  In other words, when new highs are high, we have seen momentum over a longer time horizon; when new lows have been low, we see shorter-term upside momentum.  When new highs are high *and* new lows are low, the pattern has been similar to that for elevated new highs:  weak returns over the next ten trading sessions; superior returns over a 50-day horizon.

No doubt, forward news on inflation and growth will impact rates markets and that, in turn, could move stocks.  During rising trending/momentum markets, I have found it to be helpful to look for short-term oversold points in the market (points during which the majority of stocks close below their 3 and/or 5 day moving averages) that occur at higher price lows.  Those dips are opportunities to participate in the broader trend and also create logical spots to stop out if the uptrend is broken.  At least for now, markets are treating the Fed news as a game changer.  Recent historical evidence suggests that the rising tide lifting all boats often continues, though not necessarily in the short run.

Further Reading:

Using Emotion to Change Emotion

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Sunday, December 10, 2023

Establishing Targets For Our Trades

 
Recently, I've heard from a number of traders regarding the challenge of establishing effective targets for their trades.  What has been happening in most of these situations is that a trade will go the trader's way and be profitable.  That leads the trader to hope for further gains and sometimes even add to the position.  At that point, the trade reverses and leaves the trader with no gain or even a loss.  The frustration caused by such "choppy" market conditions can then fuel subsequent poor decisions and excessive losses.

This is one of those situations in which the best psychological strategy is also the best trading strategy.  It is imperative to study the markets and instruments you're trading and identify clearly how far moves are likely to go in various regimes of volume and volatility.  If you're trading a stock index, such as the SPY ETF or the ES futures, the market VIX will be highly correlated with the average size of moves on any time frame.  Similarly, the volume of the instrument will be quite correlated with the size of market moves.  If SPY is trading an average of, say, 70 million shares per day, you can do very basic research and recognize that daily moves of much more than 1% will be difficult to achieve with such volume.  For a day trader, if today's volume is not significantly greater than recent volume and you get a breakout move of over half a percent in a 12 VIX market, you know that the conditional probability of the move going much further in your favor is pretty low.  If the VIX was greater than 20 and volume was exceeding 100 million shares, you'd be on firmer ground holding for further gains.

One thing I found very helpful in my own trading is to know what my anticipated holding period is for a trade and to know, precisely, how much directional movement can be expected during that period across different segments of the market day.  An expected holding period of an hour would lead to larger moves in stocks during early morning hours, for example, than at midday.  By studying the size of market moves for given holding periods, levels of volume and volatility, and for time of day, I can set rational, reasonable targets for profits.  That makes the exit process automatic, and it avoids the major pitfall of making execution decisions in the heat of battle.

The key is making trading planned and not reactive.  Once you have a plan, you can mentally rehearse it and base your exit on a reasonable goal, not a wish.  Trading becomes emotional when we act on hopes and fears and not hard information.  The trade exit should take into account what the market is typically giving you; expecting more is perfectionism and a setup for frustration.

Further Reading:

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Friday, December 01, 2023

Where I See Opportunity: In The Market And In Ourselves

Note:  This post is a summary of the webinar I held with traders this past Monday.

I've been involved in trading the U.S. stock market since 1977.  My professional work with traders began in 2003 and continues to this day.  So I've seen my share of markets, and I've seen quite a bit in terms of what goes into trading success.

What I find noteworthy in recent markets is the degree to which more and more money is being put to work, seeking relatively short-term advantages in the marketplace.  Quite a few of the hedge funds and money management firms around the world have greatly increased their assets under management.  They have also expanded operations across markets and across geographic regions.  When I started my performance coaching, it was common that funds specialized in specific strategies and consisted of solo portfolio managers, sometimes aided by assistants.  Now, we find many funds trading multiple strategies ("multistrat") with large teams.  This means that each team acts as a miniature fund, building diversified portfolios.  Back in the day, my work was largely limited to traders in NY and London; now it's truly global.

At the same time that trading organizations have exploded, their tolerance of risk has gone down.  Back in the day, a manager could lose up to 20% in a year before being stopped out.  Now it's not unusual for that number to be 5-10%.  What happens in practice is that risk managers don't want to see their teams stopped out, so they reduce risk taking well before the downside limits are threatened.  Once a trader goes down a few percent, their allowable risk is often cut.  So, for instance, if my capital is cut in half when I go down 5%, I now have to make 10% on the new capital base just to break even.  That is daunting, so--in reality--no one wants to go down more than a very few percent. 

Over the years, I've seen the same dynamic among day traders and proprietary trading firms that largely engage in short-term trading.  They do not typically have large capital bases and thus need to manage risk tightly.  Historically, they've made their money by leveraging capital, further ensuring that risk had to be carefully managed.  As day trading has grown, especially since the period of the "meme stocks", we find more and more participants chasing moves, but with limited capacity for loss     

The net impact of these developments is that we have very crowded markets jumping in on moves and needing to bail out when the moves don't work out.  If a trend seems to be under way, there is a lot of "chasing" of the perceived opportunity, and when the trend reverses, there can be equally significant abandonment of the positions.  On balance, this has created choppier markets.  To the degree that this choppiness is a function of more and more capital managed more and more tightly, I expect this choppiness to continue.

So where does the spirituality of trading fit into all this?

My research has found that, at turning points in the market, we see clear shifts in the breadth of market moves, as well as changes in relative strength.  This occurred in late October, when heavy selling brought us over 1900 fresh one-month lows and over 1600 three-month lows among NYSE stocks.  For the next few days, we moved still lower--by about 2%--and yet fewer stocks registered new lows.  Indeed, we began to see relative strength emerging in a few sectors of the market.  That led to a burst of buying (and short covering!) and, by November 2nd, we suddenly had new highs outnumbering new lows.  This created a momentum move that now has taken us to new highs in a few parts of the market.  

(Interestingly, as we've moved higher the last few days, breadth has stalled out and we're seeing shifts in relative strength among sectors.  I'm watching the market closely for the possibility of reversal).

With the crowding of market participants and limits on allowable losses, the two trades that set up most clearly are momentum moves (the crowd chases a move) and reversal moves (there is initial bailing out of previously popular ideas).  The breadth and relative strength measures that I track daily--for the market as a whole and sector by sector--can be found on Barchart.com; StockCharts.com and MarketCharts.com.  Backtesting of momentum and reversal moves can be found via SentimenTrader.com and QuantifiableEdges.com.  Creating a database of market and sector breadth has been invaluable in detecting when there is momentum and when moves are stalling. 

As I stressed in the online book, Radical Renewal, our greatest trading problems occur when our egos take control of our market activity.  We impose *our* views on markets, and we trade--not because of distinctive opportunity--but because we *need* to be active and make money.  Once our egos are in control of what we do, we become poor listeners to what markets are actually doing.  As a psychologist, if I am filled with my own preoccupations while I'm speaking with a client in therapy, the odds are good I won't be very helpful to that person.  I need to listen to them and act based on deep understanding.  So it is with markets.

What I refer to as the spirituality of trading is putting ego aside and training ourselves to be sensitive listeners.  If we can master that in markets, it will be great training for our personal and work relationships.  The right trading makes us better as people.  The goal is to trade selectively, from the soul--not reactively, from the ego.

Thanks for your interest--

Brett

Further Reading:

Best Practices of Successful Traders

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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Building Yourself By Building Your Trading

 
The common view in trading psychology is that we can work on ourselves and that will help us better weather the ups and downs, risks and rewards, of markets.  Certainly that is true:  as I describe in The Daily Trading Coach book, there are many research-backed techniques in psychology that provide tools for handling stress, uncertainty, overconfidence, and negativity.

A complementary perspective, not as well appreciated, is that by working on our trading, we end up developing our strengths and building our capacity for leading meaningful and purposeful lives.  Indeed, how we work on our trading helps shape our ability to achieve our life's goals.  For example, in cultivating our creativity as traders--training ourselves to perceive opportunities that others typically miss--we become more creative in guiding our lives, from our relationships to our careers.

This raises the important question;  What is the purpose of your trading?  How can our trading provide us with a life P/L and not only financial rewards?  The short answer to this question is that, like a good gymnasium, successful trading pushes us to develop strengths that we don't currently make use of.  Every day, every week in trading challenges us to broaden and build who we are.

Monday's webinar has filled up; I will likely hold another one in the not too distant future.  For those who could not make the webinar, the next TraderFeed post will summarize the main points of the session, as well as topics raised in discussion.  Thanks for your interest!

Brett        

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Friday, November 10, 2023

Developing Spirituality Through Our Trading - Free Webinar

 
Radical Renewal is an online book written in blog format.  Each blog post is a chapter, covering a topic we rarely consider:  the spirituality of trading.  About a year ago, I wrote a popular post on "Evidence-Based Spirituality", detailing how spiritual practices have been found to boost our emotional and physical well-being.  Still, the concept of trading spirituality almost seems like an oxymoron.  After all, isn't trading about making money?!

We know that emotions can get in the way of trading, but why do rational people suddenly face problems like "tilt" when they are immersed in markets?

The answer that Radical Renewal proposes is that problematic trading comes from the ego.  Successful trading comes from the soul.

So what is the soul?  How can we develop our soul-fullness?  How can we make trading a renewing, fulfilling activity and not an activity that takes over our lives and depletes us?  What does recent research evidence tell us about how we can live lives of fulfillment and meaning?

On Monday, November 27th at 4:15 PM ET after the NYSE close, I will host a free online webinar on the topic of trading spirituality.  We will look very specifically at ways in which we can develop spiritually through our work in financial markets.  Signup info will be following...stay tuned.

A few questions to leave you with:  

*  What are you doing in your trading right now that is making you a better person?  

*  How does your trading benefit your personal relationships?

*  What is so meaningful in your trading processes that you can feel fulfilled even during inevitable periods of drawdown?

I look forward to seeing you soon--

Brett

Friday, November 03, 2023

Best Practices in Trading Psychology: Consistency, Innovation, and Balance

 

Traders I've observed over the years who have achieved consistent success display three important qualities:

1)  They trade with repeatable processes, so that their trades are planned and not reactive.  They have clear, structured ways of generating ideas, and they have clear structured ways of finding optimal expressions of their ideas; sizing positions based on those expressions; and managing the risk of those trades.  What we do repeatedly becomes relatively automatic:  it becomes part of us.  A great way to minimize emotional, reactive trading is to follow trading practices that are well-defined.  If we can capture what we do as a set of rules, we have the makings of a checklist that can guide our decision-making in the heat of the moment.  A huge part of developing as a trader is finding coaches/mentors who can guide you in the discovery of the trading processes best suited for you.  What are your personality strengths?  Your cognitive strengths?  Those will help determine how you generate ideas and manage the trades based on those.  Ideally, the rules and practices that comprise your planned trading are derived from your trading successes, not simply borrowed from others.  

2)  They are always finding new ways to win.  Consider a basketball team.  They practice a range of offensive plays and defensive alignments.  They might run the ball against one opponent; they might move from a zone defense to man-to-man for another.  A big part of coaching is helping a team adapt what they do best to exploit the opponent's vulnerabilities.  Similarly, markets are ever-changing and the drivers of market behavior shift over time.  The best traders evolve.  The goal is not simply to find a trade an "edge", but to exploit ever-changing edges in dynamic markets.  The best traders will explore and research, just like any successful company that conducts R&D to meet the needs of a changing marketplace.  Successful traders will push the comfort zone and look for advantages over time frames, markets, and strategies that are unfamiliar.  If we're not challenging and scaring ourselves periodically, we're not growing.  

3)  They achieve a balance between work and life.  Over the years, I've seen many successful traders burn out.  Their burnout is not necessarily limited to their trading; they sometimes blow up in their relationships or in their physical health.  It's romantic to think about work as our passion and being involved day and night in our quest for success, but that is not what makes for a sustained, successful career.  The goal is to find a lifestyle that sustains energy and passion over time.  That lifestyle typically includes activities for physical well-being and the emotional well-being of relationships.  It is not clear to me that we can sustain our love for markets and trading if we cannot sustain love in our lives.  It is not clear that we can sustain our energy and passion for trading if we cannot sustain physical energy in our lives.  An Olympic athlete knows the importance of staying in peak conditioning as part of training and preparing for success.  Each of us needs to find the peak conditioning in our lives that can sustain our best efforts in markets.

Approaching our trading in the right way is the best way to cultivate a positive trading psychology.  It's not that you'll magically trade better if you're in a better frame of mind.  Rather, you'll be in your optimal mindset when you approach trading the right way.  

Develop routines based on your strengths.  Push the boundaries in finding fresh opportunity.  Live a full life that maximizes your energy and mindset.  Identify what you do that is truly great and build upon that.  You are not meant for a life of mediocrity.  Have the vision to dream and the practical sense to pursue that dream, step by step.

Further Reading:



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Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Self Respect: The Missing Ingredient in Our Efforts to Grow


A friendship or romantic relationship can get through many ups and downs.  At times, during our hurt, it can feel as though our affection has vanished.  Often, however, we can return to closeness because our very hurt tells us we care.  Indeed, relationships can grow stronger from periods of disappointment.

What relationships cannot survive is a loss of respect.  When we feel disappointment and hurt, often it's because of actions that the other person has taken.  When we feel a loss of respect, it's because the other person's character has come into question.  We can tolerate a disagreement with a spouse or business partner and often grow from the resolution.  What is far more difficult to accept is betrayal and dishonesty.  The person we trusted is not the person we had hoped for.  The issue is not bad actions, but bad actors.

Once respect is lost, can there be genuine caring, liking, and love?

Missing in many discussions of personal growth and positive psychology is the element of self-respect.  If we value and respect ourselves, we naturally gravitate to what is good for us and avoid what is damaging.  In the past, I was offered opportunities to work with trading firms that I knew treated their traders badly.  I didn't bother to find out the compensation.  I said no.  It was exactly the same reason that I don't want to put harmful drugs in my body or maintain abusive relationships.  When we respect ourselves, our actions align with our well-being.

When we do things that we know to be bad for us or stay in situations we know to be harmful despite the presence of constructive alternatives, we act on the premise of self-disrespect.  How we treat ourselves is our relationship with our selves.  What we pursue in life is a reflection of what we ultimately desire for ourselves.  What we do with our lives mirrors our character.  An empty life, an indulgent life, a life without overarching purpose?  Without self-respect, there can be no positive psychology.

Self-respect grows from what we do.  It is when we act upon our values that we ultimately feel most valuable.  A great question for reflection:  What am I doing today that I would be proud to be acknowledged in my obituary?  If we're not doing something each day, each week that we are truly proud of, the result is self-betrayal and an erosion of self-respect.  

Life is a great gymnasium.  If each day exercises our character strengths, we grow the kind of self-respect that attracts the right opportunities and the right people.  We can't always be happy and we can't always be successful.  We can, however, always live today with integrity.  

Further Reading:

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Thursday, October 19, 2023

How To Transcend Trauma


Recently, I've been privileged to speak via Zoom with a number of those directly impacted by the Middle Eastern conflict.  It's been a dramatic reminder of how strong people can be, even when they feel overwhelmed and broken.  Most of us have been through a life event that has had traumatic impact, whether it be the loss of a loved one or an episode of threat and violence.  One of the real challenges of trading financial markets is that, if we don't exercise sound risk management, we can experience losses so great that they overwhelm us--personally, as well as financially.  Whenever an adverse event threatens what we value, the result can be stress and even trauma. 

As the group on Zoom reminded me, the above situations are different from what is happening now in the Middle East.  A traumatic event typically has a beginning and an end.  Once it's passed, we can focus on coping.  What do we do during a violent and scary war that has no foreseeable end?  How can we cope when we have no control whatsoever of what will happen today, tomorrow, and next week?

The eye-opening reality is that the people I'm speaking are, indeed, coping!  Yes, they cry and, yes, they feel unable to act at times, but they are doing what they can to be there for family, friends, and those they work with.  We sometimes fall into the trap of believing that being strong means being unemotional.  That's not at all the case.  Being strong is being empathic:  standing far enough from one's own concerns at times to feel with others and for others and share our experience with them.

The inspiring people on the Zoom call have helped me realize that transcending trauma involves three C's:  caring, connecting, and creating.  Caring means that we feel for others; connecting means we reach out to others; creating means we do for others.  It can be as simple as thinking about someone struggling, reaching out to them, and making them a meal.  The three C's take us for a time out of our own struggles and help us truly act from the soul.  

Amidst the loss of control that we feel during wartime, caring, connecting, and creating provide us with experiences of doing things that matter.  The most powerful thing we can do to transcend trauma is to gather the determination to not let events control us and to do things that make a difference.  Trauma is ultimately about powerlessness.  Transcending trauma is about finding islands of power in the midst of uncertainty.

I mentioned in an earlier post that Margie and I recently visited the World War II internment camp at Terezin in the Czech Republic.  There we heard about and saw the horrific conditions of the prisoners:  the overcrowding, the brutal punishment, the lack of health care, the death of friends and loved ones, and of course the constant fear of what would come next.  What was amazing was how the prisoners transformed a small living area into a place of worship where they could gather; how they were able to find materials to draw, write, and create artworks; and how they managed to support each other.  Caring, connecting, creating.  Even in a setting surrounded by death, they were able to affirm life.

I've come away from Terezin--and from my Zoom meetings--not confident that trauma won't happen, but reassured that, if it happens, I will have the role models and inspirations to transcend challenge and uncertainty.  All of us are likely to go through painful loss--in markets, in relationships, in our health.  As long as we can hold onto our humanity as caring and creative beings, we will be able to transcend--and eventually become role models for others.  

Forty years almost to the day, I was caught the wrong way in volatility and blew through my trading account, triggering far more than a loss of money.  Today I hit my high water mark amidst growing volatility.  

We can transcend.

Further Reading:


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