Trading Psychology: 5 Unique Insights from 10,000 Mantras
4 hours in, sweat on my forehead, a sore left knee and one feeling of exhilaration, I completed the 10,000th mantra.
Yes, for over 240 minutes (minus the necessary 1 minute ‘loo break’) I chanted the same 9 Tibetan words 10,000 times in a row.
Personally, I thought it would be a tad easier, but the reality (and surprise) was much more challenging vs. how it appeared ‘conceptually’.
What I learned from sitting on my derrière, all 240+ minutes, reflected back some gems about trading and the mindset of breaking through.
Here are the 5 unique insights I got about trading psychology chanting 10,000 mantras in one sitting.
#1: 2,000 Punches & 1 Month of Meals
I recently started martial arts again (which I’ll be writing about in more detail soon), but am taking Wing Chun classes.
I am NOT taking martial arts because I want to be able to fight well, nor am I taking Wing Chun because I want to be Ip Man 😮
Photo of Ip Man training Bruce Lee
I’m taking it as a mind-body training with the goal of elevating both to the next level.
In my first class, I was practicing the basic punch and it looked sloppy (that’s putting it mildly).
The senior student helping me (who is awesome) said this while working on my punch, “to really get this down, you’ll want to do a lot of punches, like 2,000 punches until the muscle memory is fully wired in.”
It is pretty easy to balk at feeling like you have to do 2,000 punches before you can throw that sucker well.
But if that is what it takes, I’ll do it, and I’ll use the One Month of Meals Method which goes like this:
If you were to walk into your kitchen right now, and right in front of you was all the food you’d eat for an entire month, you wouldn’t feel hungry.
The irony is, you’ll eat that amount of food every month, and already have been for decades. Yet done one meal at a time, it’s quite workable.
And that is how you should approach big projects which require tons of reps.
Trading is no different. I often give my students homework on what they should practice.
One such method is to practice a trading strategy, or even a price action skill to hone their trading and improve their performance.
For this, I suggest Forex Tester 2, which is like the driving range for traders. Below is a good video explaining some basic methods of how you can use Forex Tester 2.
For those interested in getting a discount on Forex Tester 2 – click here.
Now consider the following – most professional golfers hit about 300-500 golf balls a day, either on the course or a driving range.
With that piece of info in your brain, how many reps and practices are you doing per day?
For a good article on what it means to trade like a sniper – click on that link.
Getting back to the practice, while doing my 10,000 mantras, I grouped them into 5 groups of 2,100. This was much more manageable because I’ve done rounds of 2,100 before.
When you do a mantra practice like this with high reps, you have what is called a ‘mala’ which is like prayer beads you see in many religions. Below are a couple of mine.
Normally in my tradition, they have 108 beads as do the two on the right (108 being a special number).
I have a smaller mala (blue one on the left) which has 21 beads on it. So for each round of 108 on my main practice mala, I turned the 21 bead mala 1x. Once I completed a full round on that mala, I knew I did 2,100.
Five rotations later, I did 10,500, but only counted 10K because I’m guessing I didn’t do a few quite so well.
If I was counting down, that would be like looking at an entire month of food in front of me.
But breaking it into smaller meals made it more digestible.
So whatever your goal is with trading, break it down into smaller bite-sized chunks, then shoot for those as they become much more manageable.
#2: You Must Challenge Your Self-image to Grow
Your self-image is the overall corpus of how you see yourself. It is the sum of your habits, attitudes and beliefs. It is essentially what you think it is ‘like you’ to do.
Think you’re good at playing basketball? That is part of your self-image.
Think you’re not the best dancer (as I certainly am not)? That is part of your self-image.
Your self-image has boundaries whereby the lower and upper boundaries of your self-image determine your success in trading.
If your self-image was already setup to succeed in trading, you’d already be there.
To change your self-image requires it to be challenged, and it has to be done so via a new self-image which is in direct conflict with your current one.
If you haven’t had the experience of consistently profiting from trading, then currently it is not in your self-image to trade successfully.
GOOD NEWS – YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR SELF-IMAGE!
How do you change your self-image? By challenging it, by finding its limit, by building experiences of going beyond what your self-image thinks it’s ‘like you’ to do.
If you think you cannot do 300 push-ups in a row right now, you’ll need to build up to that. Only until you’ve done it several times will your self-image think it is ‘like you’ to do it.
That is where testing yourself enters the picture.
The self-image will only grow (think expand) in terms of what it can do, through testing & challenging it.
Whatever thoughts enter your mind, whatever doubts, fears, worries, excuses, or moments where you want to quit – that is your current self-image resisting.
It will resist change and want to stay where it is, and this is what you have to fight against.
Hence the formula is simple – if your current self-image doesn’t fully know it is ‘like you’ to trade profitably, you’ll need to expand it till it knows it inside and out.
NOTE: For those wanting to learn strategies and techniques to grow a self-image for successful trading, check out my advanced traders mindset course.
#3: Concentration Oscillates, Coming Back is Key
Go for any long run, or do 1,000’s of reps of anything in a row, and your mind will wander.
Shoot, let’s be honest here – how many paragraphs or lines in this article did you read before you got distracted and thought of something else?
This Sunday, while chanting the mantras, it became appallingly clear an imperfectly trained mind will result in an oscillating level of concentration.
During the 4hr chanting bonanza, my mind cycled across a giant spectrum of concentration, between a zen like focus while walking across a tight-rope 1,000 feet in the air vs. a monkey on crack after eating 9 tablespoons of sugar!
And of course everything in between.
There were definitely periods of being highly focused while others of barely being there.
The point being – unless your mind is perfectly trained, your ability to concentrate will oscillate.
What’s important to note is, the periods of focus aren’t a problem. It’s when you are highly unfocused that the worries, fears and doubts creep in.
Your brain on average produces between 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day. If you aren’t focused or controlling that mental activity, then it is controlling you and coming from your unconscious mind.
Ever been in a trade you initially felt great about, yet all of a sudden, it’s only moved a few pips against you and you feel under a death grip of worry it’s going to stop you out?
That is your unconscious and limiting beliefs taking over your conscious mind, and if you don’t correct it quickly, or know how to deal with it, it will take you underwater.
The key lesson here is to keep coming back. If you have a plan to bring your mind back when it wanders, some sort of mental cue you engage, that method will pay dividends in building this muscle.
By coming back, you train your mind to develop stronger and stronger levels of concentration.
And make no mistake, the science is clear – those who have greater focus and clarity form better memories and make more calculated decisions.
If you practice mindfulness meditation, even after a short period of time, it can re-wire your brain, and improve your concentration.
Better memories = greater pattern recognition while trading and the results from more calculated decisions are obvious to any trader.
Want to increase your edge and profits while trading? Keep coming back.
#4: My Ass Hurts & Why That’s A Good Thing
Ever sit on your rump in one place for 4 hours in a row, moving only once? Doesn’t feel good, eh?
At the end of the 4hrs of chanting mantras, my ass hurt, but in many ways, it was a badge of honor and a good thing.
There is a great story about a Buddhist master and his ass:
He was at a riverbank saying goodbye to his greatest student with whom he shared everything he knew, experienced and understood.
After a final embrace, he bid his student farewell, who then picked up his backpack, and walked away over a stone bridge to the other side of the river.
Just before the student was finally gone from sight or sound, his teacher called him back.
Walking back to find out why, his teacher’s eyes were clear and penetrating while he said the following, “You being a special student deserve one of my greatest teachings of all. Make sure you cherish this one deeply and never forget it.”
With his student attentive, ready to receive such a great and profound teaching, the master turned around, pulled up his robe, showed his bare ass and said “LOOK!”
“You see this ass? The one with lumps on it from sitting and meditating all these years? You now know what I have gone through to realize what I did – all through persistence.
You need this mindset! This is the essence of what I have taught. Practice without stopping, and it is only a matter of time. Exert yourself with mental toughness and the no-obstacle mindset. Do this until you’ve mastered what you set out to do.”
The first time I read this story, my initial response was laughter wondering what this student was thinking when he saw his master lift up his robe and show his full moon.
But after that moment of humor and imagination, I realized any high level of skill I’ve built in my life has been through tons of practice.
Watch a professional athlete today and you’ll see them practicing more than they are playing. Football players play one game a week and practice for 5-6 days. Basketball players practice at least 3-4x for every game they play.
Discipline and an unrelenting practice builds mental toughness, along with a mind that only knows success. Do this and it is only a matter of time before you find the pot of gold waiting for you.
At the end of my 4hr session, my ass hurt. However, in my mind, that was a good thing as it was working towards my commitment and goal.
Hence the question has to be asked – is your ass hurting today?
#5: You’re Either Committed to Succeeding, or Quitting
The stats suggest about 7.5% of all traders accounts at the end of this year will be larger than what they started with.
That may seem daunting, and the number is not exactly enticing. I think one of the problems is there are many people telling you it’s ‘easy’.
Anyone telling you it’s ‘easy’, or portraying images of people sitting on beaches with their ever so light laptops, hands folded behind their backs as they smile with glee, enjoying the lifestyle of a professional trader from some remote beach isn’t being honest.
They are selling a dream, and targeting those of you who do not want to work for it, who want it easy. Essentially they are looking for (no pun intended) easy prey.
Trading is a mental performance discipline, and by default will challenge your mind, brain and mindset to go beyond what it already knows and what habits you already have.
Anytime you push yourself to go beyond what you can easily do now, you’ll run into a little voice, and it’s often a naysayer type voice (negative).
It’s the one that tells you why you cannot, should not, and will not do it. It is great at coming up with excuses, finding reasons why you should take the next off-ramp, how there really is no benefit in crossing the finish line.
The difference between those who break through vs. those who break down, is the former group fights back against that little negative voice.
The latter individual listens to this voice, believes it, and gives into it.
I’ve never met anyone who feels confident about themselves, while continually NOT finishing what they started.
I’ll be completely frank, I had anywhere between 10-20+ moments of that voice popping up in my head, like a dude wearing lederhosen in the middle of the New York Stock exchange, clearly standing out, trying to get my attention.
And let me tell you, he did a pretty convincing dance.
But regardless of what that voice in my 10lb dome said, my mind was resolved from the beginning – that is part of becoming successful.
If you listen to that voice and believe what it’s saying, it will win.
And it is an expert at weeding out half-hearted commitments.
What it really comes down to is – you’re either committed to succeeding, or quitting.
There is nothing easy about becoming a professional in any skill, let alone trading.
The path to a successful trading psychology and mindset come only through training.
My guess is if you incorporate some (if not all) of these 5 insights into your trading practice (and life), you’ll see the benefits to your performance and profits.
For those wanting to train your mindset, build up your self-image and learn how to pull the trigger, check out my advanced traders mindset course where I teach you how to do this successfully.
With that being said – is your ass hurting today? Are you committed to succeeding?
Please make sure to comment below and share this with anyone you know can benefit from it.
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