Profitable traders have full control over their emotions. They don’t allow emotions to interfere with their concentration. They focus on the markets, and through focused concentration, they can react to subtle changes in the markets with aplomb. Trading expert, Dr Ari Kiev calls this state of mind “centred trading.”
In our exclusive interview with traders, we’ve heard master traders describe what it is like to cultivate a focused, centred mindset. Scott, a seasoned trader, describes how winning traders stay focused on the markets and on executing their trading plan even after a disappointing setback: “You can’t let what just happened to ruin what’s about to happen.” According to Scott, traders that do well are good at saying, “Okay, I made a mistake, what’s next.” Mark, a well-known hedge fund manager notes that a trader must recover quickly from a setback and not see it as defeat. It’s similar to playing sports: “As soon as you lose the ball, you’ve got to head the other direction.
You don’t have time to think about it or cry about it. You’ve got to move. Your awareness of what’s happening allows you to do that. You must look at what the markets are saying, position yourself, and don’t think about the situation fully until the game is over.”
Centred traders are able to focus on the essential elements of the trade before them. They don’t worry about the consequences of their actions during the trade. They disregard past mistakes and avoid worrying about future events. They distance themselves from their emotional responses. They let their thoughts pass through their consciousness. It’s a meditative state where they can allow their mind to look at the market action from a creative, alternative perspective. The more centred you are as a trader, the less easily you will be distracted. Becoming a centred trader takes practice, though. Dr Kiev (1998) describes practical guidelines for how to develop this ability. First, he suggests gaining awareness of the automatic nature of negative thoughts.
Negative thinking tends to go through your mind without your awareness and impacts your trading. By gaining awareness of how you think negatively, you can turn away from negative, self-defeating thoughts. Second, he suggests abandoning adversarial metaphors of trading, such as fighting a battle. Rather than hostile imagery, you should see the trading arena as a serene environment. Third, it is necessary to remove your ego from the process of trading. As Dr Kiev puts it, “you need to stop focusing on your image and surrender to the Tao or the path before you.” Fourth, and most importantly, make an effort to practice some form of meditative exercise to learn to cultivate the proper centred state.
These exercises can be formal meditation or alternative methods, such as praying, reading a story, humming, or using dance or physical exercise. With practice, you can learn to move away from allowing automatic negative, emotional thoughts from taking over. You’ll be able to focus on your ongoing trading experience and trade more profitably.