Friday, January 01, 2010

How to Change How We Think

Recent posts have dealt with negative patterns of attribution and ways of learning optimistic perspectives on performance.

But how can we change how we think? So many of our negative thought patterns come to us automatically, seemingly outside our control.

As I point out in Lesson 55 of
The Daily Trading Coach, interrupting negative thought patterns is often the first step in changing them:

"How do you break a habit pattern? When we have a smoking habit, or when we find ourselves eating out of habit, one of the first steps toward change is simply catching ourselves in the act of repeating our unwanted actions. By disrupting a habit pattern, we gradually make it less automatic, less capable of controlling us.

So it is with our habitual thought patterns. When we interrupt and disrupt these patterns, they become less automatic. We gain a measure of control over them; they no longer take control from us" (p. 176).

Disrupting negative patterns of thought and behavior works by creating a split within us: one part of us buys into the negativity, even as another part stands apart from it and refuses to go along with it. A powerful method for creating interruptions is to remind ourselves of consequences: "I know how this is going to end; I'm not going to go there this time."

As I point out in the lesson, some of the best candidates as thought patterns to disrupt while trading are the ones containing the words "I" and "me". To the extent that we are self-focused--thinking about our profits, our losses, our missed opportunities, our needs--we cannot be fully market focused. A simple deep breath, relaxation of the body, and reminder, "It's not about me; it's about picking up the market patterns," can help traders prevent normal frustrations from becoming performance disruptions.