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What is Different

About the Trading Tribe Process

 

March 2, 2004

 

Tue, 2 Mar 2004

 

What is Different About the Trading Tribe Process


Hi Ed !

I was called up to explain what distinguishes the Trading
Tribe Process to a trader's emotions from other approaches, I came up
this and thought other traders might find it interesting, possibly
even useful.

* * *

1. Traditional approaches to trading and emotions are all about
control.
"Control your feelings." "Feel the fear and do it anyway."
"Act like a man." This approach can work, which is at least
anecdotally demonstrated by the percentage of ex-military personnel
who are traders relative to their percentage in the general
population. This really shouldn't be a surprise. Their military
training includes practicing doing whatever is required despite any
feelings. Trading certainly offers an application of this strategy.
One draw back of this approach is the required entraining program. If
you haven't been in combat situations or at least in live fire
exercises, you're unlikely to have the depth of practice to make a
practical of application of this. And given the surrounding cultural
values, you are likely to blame yourself for some lack of resolve
you've never practiced. It is true that some other experiences,
including certain sports, can inculcate this strategy to some degree,
but they are not as reliable as the Marines.

2. Another traditional approach to the emotions of trading,
though not nearly as acknowledged, is, or rather are, drugs and/or
alcohol
. Bathing those neurotransmitters of emotions in your brain
with norepinephrine and dopamine and/or serotonin are both fairly
effective ways - according to your neurological leanings - of
inducing a sense of well-being that can dull disturbing thoughts and
feelings, and in sufficient qualities completely blot out feelings of
pain or panic. And if you "win," well, you're already more than
half-way to the celebration. Some traders use a simultaneous
ingestion strategy. That is, both trading and imbibing at the same
time, while other traders opt for the time honored sequential
approach. "Boy, what a day. I need a drink." or "Wow, what a day.
Let's celebrate." Difficulties with this approach tend to revolve
around determining the proper dosage. If a little bit helps, a lot
more has got to be better.

3. Related approaches include strenuous physical activities -
compulsive exercise, sex - and their extreme opposite, compulsive
snacking, television watching
. All of which are various means of
deliberating altering your brain chemistry for the purposes of
changing your mood. In itself, this is completely normal and in fact
desirable. After all, food is not merely for sustenance, nor sex only
for reproduction. A great deal of life's pleasures come from our
emotional swings - from frustration to elation on solving a problem,
from anxiety to joy on the resolving of a crisis, from loneliness to
loving on being reunited - as long as the swings are not too far, too
long, or too forced. When a particular emotion is compulsively sought
with no thought to its expense to health, relationships or
pocketbook, it is an addiction. Whether a particular substance is
being abused or not, the person is. The currency of exchange becomes
life itself.

4. In contrast to the tradition approaches of emotional control
or stimulation, the modern approaches are concerned with emotional
management - a modern idea in itself.
These include most of the
so-called pop or New Age psychologies. They rely on the traditional
emotional stimulation approach only without the use of mediating
substances or activities. Instead, a kind of mental stimulation is
used which typically takes one of two forms - either associating
yourself into feeling good or dissociating yourself into not feeling
anything at all. The first form takes the memories of other times
you've imbibed positive feeling stimulators - previous success,
drugs, sex, it doesn't matter - and by association transfers their
feelings to your present predicament. That is, your not so successful
trading situation. The idea here is that by feeling differently than
you do when you are losing, you will make more resourceful decisions
than you would if you realized you are losing. The second form takes
the position that if you are feeling nothing at all, you will make
more objective decisions than you do as a participant. Each of these
can naturally occur in everyday life. A lucky article of clothing or
ritual behavior is adopted because it brings back a certain positive
feeling from another time. It has become an "anchor" for that
feeling. Pushing back your chair or stepping away from your computer
screen gives you some mental, as well as physical, distance from the
trade it displays and thereby facilitates decreasing, even
dissociating from, those disturbing feelings.

5. The popularity of NLP anchoring techniques and other
behaviorist methodologies attests to the effectiveness of these
approaches to changing
, or even eliminating certain feelings. With
these approaches you learn that your feelings can and do change and
that you can precipitate change without chemical stimulus. This
experience is quite liberating for a number of people. So much so
that the down sides are over looked, and all of these approaches -
traditional and modern - have down sides. These include:
misrepresenting experience, disrupting significant feedback and feed
forward loops, decreasing the texture and complexity of feelings, and
reinforcing the idea that there are good and bad feelings, good and
bad experiences.


6. Every experience is a complex and changing arrangement of our
environment, physiology, electrochemical reactions and awareness of
all of this. The point here is our conscious minds are the last to
know. Our bodies are already producing digestive juices before we
know we are hungry. Our bodies are already pumping adrenaline by the
time we are afraid. Our bodies are already getting ready by the time
we realize we are attracted to someone. Realize is the key concept
here. We realize what is happening to us. If we like it, we go
with, full of self assurance that we are in control. If we don't like
it, we try to stop it - by internal commands, drugs, alcohol,
distraction, cold showers, re-anchoring, re-framing - it doesn't
matter. The meta-message remains the same. These are bad feelings and
should be stopped. If I can stop them, I am in control. If I can't
stop them, I am weak.

7. This completely ignores the fact that feelings are integral
to life, the evolution of life, the appreciation of life, and wanting
to bother to stay alive
. It is a testament to how far away from these
basic truths we are as individuals and as a culture that we think the
recent - we're talking 1994 - work of Antonio Damasio is considered
earth-shaking. What Dr. Damasio discovered - by studying people
incapable of having feelings - is that feelings are fundamental to
decision-making
. Even a moments reflection reveals the obviousness of
this. In order to order that steak at the restaurant or whatever, you
need to notice what kind of experience you are desiring and search
your memory for a previous time that gave you that kind of pleasure
in order to repeat it. This is impossible without feelings. Feelings
are how we know what we like and don't like, what we want and don't
want
, what we care about and what we don't care about, and myriad
other feelings that we know by words including curiosity, delight,
despair, elation, anxiety, compassion, satisfaction and so many more.
Feelings are a means by which we can summarize an experience, a rapid
recognition system that allows us know what is food from not food, to
experience the desire to reproduce, to bond with others, and to care
about our young. Feelings are essential for our survival as
individuals and as tribes - for us to take delight in being alive now
and to fuel our desire to transform the status quo.

8. Through a mix of imagination and emotion, we envision a
better life for ourselves and those we hold dear. We know it will be
better because it will have more of what we want and less of what we
don't want. We work and we strive and we bend the world around us to
more closely match our inner vision. If you don't believe this, stop
reading and look around. Everything man made object, every
manufactured item you see, is a transformation of a previous status
quo. Someone decided things could be better than they were. When this
happens on schedule, we celebrate. When there are delays, detours or
distractions, we experience emotions associated with certain actions.
So it should come as no surprise when we discover that our feelings
can be changed, we set out to work on them. Maybe it's as thoughtless as
an after dinner drink, or as deliberate as doing something we're
afraid to do. By various experiences and experiments, each of us
discovers that certain feelings are preferred over others and certain
methods are more or less reliable for changing one or calling up
another.

9. If our feelings were merely a matter of preference, there
wouldn't be a need for this explanation. But preferences quickly
become judgments and feel good feelings become the good feelings
and feel bad feelings the bad. Good feelings are the ones to
treasure and encourage, which on the face of it is fine. But then
bad feelings are to be minimized, altered by whatever means possible and
ultimately vanquished. This may not seem like a problem, so let me
offer an analogy. Say it's breakfast time and you would like a
banana. You find all you have are apples. You probably eat an apple
and make a note to pick up some bananas. That's a preference in
action. A judgment is declaring that apples are bad and bananas are
good. Therefore apples should be thrown away and their orchards
destroyed - which reveals how ridiculous judgments can get. After
all, they are both fruit, and they both offer sustenance. They simply
satisfy different tastes and different dietary needs.

10. In the same way, all feelings are feelings. They are
essential aspects of our experience and different feelings satisfy
different needs. Pleasure and delight let you know you've found
something you like. Anxiety and frustration let you know your current
approach is not working satisfactorily. Anger signals you that some
important value is being violated, and so on. Not having these
feelings in their living situations is denying yourself highly
relevant information. As Ed Seykota put it, it's like covering up the
gauges on your car's instrument panel because you don't like to be
reminded that you need to do something - like buy more gas or oil.

11. Using will power, pill power, alcohol or re-anchoring to
change your feelings about a situation is to misrepresent that
experience.
It is changing the reading on your emotional gauge, which
can obscure important information. These changes can disrupt
significant feedback and feed forward loops. For example, if you use
anxiety to signal yourself to double check your work, and you've
changed that feeling, then you probably won't. If you've fixed it so
you won't feel anger, you won't wonder which value is being violated.
If this is done to a number of the so called negative feelings -
replacing them with the so-called positive feelings, the overall
effect is often to decrease the range complexity and texture of
your feelings. How could this be a problem? As you have more and more
experience with something, you develop a more layered and nuanced
understanding of it. You get a feel for it. You are educating your
intuition. If, instead, you reapply the same old feelings from other
times and places - by whatever means - then you are likely to obscure
current insights and impede the development of your intuition. It is
the difference between having a wealth of experience, and having the
same experience over and over again.

12. If you know anything about NLP or have had an experience of
Anthony Robbins, you may be surprised to read this. You might want to
tell me that learning to neutralize your negative feelings and
re-anchor your positive ones has had some very positive effects in
your life. I won't argue with that. If you are stuck in a negative
state, breaking out of it is liberating - an absolutely essential
first step. To make an analogy, if your car engine has vapor lock,
you need to cool off the individual fuel system components. You can
do this by spraying them with water, but this doesn't mean you should
spray your fuel system [everytime] you start your car. There are other
things you can do, like cleaning the radiator, servicing the cooling
system and changing the fuel source. Once you have freed up your
feelings, once you've experienced that your feelings can change, it
is time to begin to wonder what they are there for and how they fit
into the rest of your experience.

13. This is how the Trading Tribe Process is different from all
the others approaches. Feelings, all feelings, are acknowledged as
fundamental aspects of our experience - all of them are honored and
celebrated. This is actually consistent with the principles of Dr.
Milton Erickson influenced approaches to change including NLP. That
is, that every behavior - and feeling - makes sense in its original
context, and that every behavior - including feelings - is useful in
some context. Feelings are not wrong, they some times get misplaced.
Yet in the emotional phobic environments in which many of us live [our]
daily lives there are no appropriate times or places for most of our
feelings. So, in TTP, there is the tribe. A safe and accepting place
to express feelings.

14. Feelings happen in relationship - with our environments, with
others, and with ourselves. Through our words, images and actions, we
connect with our world. With our bodies, our muscle memory, our gut
reactions, our every breath, we experience ourselves in our world.
This is so obviously true, why even mention it. Because most people,
most of the time, are somewhere else - in their thoughts, their
memories, their fantasies, their fears - somewhere far away from the
experience right in front of them now. The Trading Tribe Process
brings these strands of experience together. Though a community of
support and encouragement of fellow tribes men, all feelings, all
experiences are validated and celebrated, and by association, so is
their author and owner. Judgments fall away, internal conflicts
disappear, and one has the sense of returning to source - of living,
breathing, thinking, feeling, experiencing - all happening now.


15. This makes the Trading Tribe Process sound like an ending,
but for those who experience it, it is a beginning. With fresh eyes
and ears, with emotional openness and clarity of purpose, let the
trading begin.