To this day, I confront the same emotions. I have learned better control and have learned the signals of impending emotional responses.
I now anticipate, control them, and put them away. They have become my friends and my teachers.
Earlier in my trading experience I had spent 18 months, five hours a day, learning and trading various platforms and methods. I treated trading as a job from the first day, no mulligans permitted. I researched, read, struggled, made error after error, modified my trading plan and finally, after 18 months I felt ready to “go live” with real money. For the record, I was making between 5 and 15 trades per trading day and over the term had made an average of 256 pips per month with a 78% correct trade record. Not a bad record. I was ready. I gathered up my $10,000 and opened my live account with a reputable brokerage.
I still laugh at my naiveté, as the broker opened my account and automatically limited my leverage to 5:1; suggesting I may want to proceed slowly in this risky market. Following my arrogant and complaining email, the leverage was quickly increased to the then normal 100:1. I still have that email containing the staple marks and blood from my forehead.
My first live trade was a success, the plan worked well and closed the day with a 35 pip profit. Whew! The first live trade behind me, my methods confirmed; my wife and I celebrated my success and I completed my homework for next days trading plan. Confident, I slept with the angels knowing full well that my well-deserved success was just a few months away.
Enter now stage left, the Fifth Emotion of FEAR along with her cousins Self-Doubt and Conviction.
The research and homework from my first day had indicated a short trend. The charts showed a strong overhead resistance. Watching for a short opportunity, I opened my second live trade, SHORT a few pips below the prior days close. With strong resistance overhead and the first support level some forty pips below, my methods confirmed, my confidence high, I saw no urgency to set a stop loss, after-all I was right there; my finger “on the trigger”.
My entry method proved successful, the market moved 25 pips to the short side. I was elated, the wind was to my back! All the hard work and lonely trading hours were paying off. Success was right here, right now! The market had given me 25 pips, not quite my intended target level of 45 pips, but close; I held my short. My enthusiasm and joy were short lived as the market stalled and began a reverse that would gobble up my “profit” over the next five minutes. Finishing that meal, the market continued LONG, heading for the overhead resistance mark.
As the market approached my break-even point, FEAR crept into my mind, I set a stop loss LONG at the resistance price and re-evaluated my trade. My method, my charts, my friends in the chat-room, all indicated; stay SHORT. I reviewed my reasoning for taking the trade and became convinced that SHORT was the correct position. After-all, the market had failed the resistance level three times, the news was good, the trend was in line. I was right; I had the conviction. The market continued LONG, now by 20 pips.
The bull run continued, as the market approached my STOP-LOSS, FEAR and SHAME walked into the room. SHAME told me that a 45 pip loss was bad and would wipe out yesterdays profit; FEAR agreed calling CONVICTION who said that my trade strategy was correct; the market would certainly turn back SHORT before it broke the resistance. GREED arrived on his black horse. He suggested that I cancel my stop loss. FEAR AND SHAME both agreed, so did I.
My stop loss cancelled, FEAR and SHAME stood on my right side, happy that they could help.
It was dark and chilled in my trading room, quiet and alone I searched for my friend CONVICTION. He was there, leaning on SHAME’S shoulder and told me I was right.
Suddenly, from nowhere, lightning struck! Thunder roared! The quiet became a torrential storm as the bulls took over. Within two minutes, the market moved through the resistance and the market was LONG over 100 pips.
TERROR arrived in his black robe! CONVICTION and SHAME cowered in his mighty presence.
Reality set in as I realized I was down not just the 128 pips, but $1280 real dollars. Over 10% of my trading account had been destroyed in a single trade, in less than 5 minutes.
I evaluated the numbers and searched for a solution to my dilemma.
HOPE arrived, warm and promising. HOPE smiled, whispered gently in my ear, “if you average here, you can get out even on the retrace, remember the past”. TERROR chuckled under his breath and gave a high five to CONVICTION.
CONVICTION agreed that the retrace would take the price back within an acceptable level of loss. I decided to take the average. HOPE was such a help, so warm, so friendly, so reassuring.
My reality at this point was that I now had 2 lots at risk, (twenty percent of my trading account) averaged into a 64 pip loss, hoping for a recovery on the a retracement of a 128 pip move.
Thank god it was Friday and this move would be over soon, the pain would end. If I can just get out of the trade even, life will be fine. I know my mistake, I recognize my demons and I can move on.
As dawn broke, bringing with it the warmth of the sun, HOPE and I partied as the market began a reversal pattern; back towards home, towards warmth and security; back toward my dreams.
TERROR took a chair in the far corner of my trading room. Together HOPE, CONVICTION and I had succeeded. I was right, thanks to my long practiced methods, my analysis, my friends HOPE and CONVICTION. I was being rewarded. Success was again at hand.
Suddenly, without warning the market reversed again to the LONG side. HOPE dropped her drink. TERROR jumped from his chair with the speed of lightning, “a bull run” he shouted as the market moved another 92 pips to the LONG side. TERROR was exhilarated! He immediately telephoned DESPAIR and she came running.
This rampage of unchecked emotion continued through the session.
The comedy and the tragedy of compounding errors ended with one last average 257 pips above my initial short. I was now 3 lots SHORT; averaged to 125 pips down; in a reversing market; on a Friday.
TERROR and DESPAIR partied all weekend while my wife and I made the painful decision to take the loss.
The end result of this trade was; after one more average, the market did reverse. The trade cost me $3600, 36% of my account and I’m happy it happened when it did. It was the BEST TRADE I EVER MADE. And the market didn’t care!! The lessons learned from this trade were more valuable to my trading than the entire 18 months of advance preparation.
Now, hundreds of trades later, I revisit all my friends during my trades. They are my friends, they taught me, they are my mentors. But now I control them. I tell myself daily before I enter the market that “I alone have the ability to destroy my account”.