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Dorn: Trading Fear

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Fear is a misunderstood emotion, and one that gets a pretty bad rap these days.

We owe our survival as a species to the hard-wired fear that protected and kept us safe from physical threats for hundreds of thousands of years. But what about the litany of fears that plagues traders every day?

Fear of losing, of watching profits disappear, making mistakes, missing out, taking profits too soon...the list goes on.

Perhaps the larger question is this: If there is so much fear and almost every trader feels fear, why do millions of people continue to trade?

The answer lies in the way that fear is perceived.

For many, fear is a predator that is constantly lurking, sneaking up on them and ready to attack at any moment.

In this brain set, they are always running away from fear, crouching in a corner or looking for a safe place to hide.

Fear blinds them to opportunity in much the same way that greed blinds them to danger.

For others, fear is the prey.

They move steadily and with discipline in direction of the fear —always keeping it in front of them. As they approach the fear, they see it for what it really is.

F.E.A.R: False Evidence Appearing Real.

They see fear as something to go through in order to get what they desire — better trades and more profits. For them, fear is not a brick wall, but a soft illusion. The more they approach the fear, the smaller it becomes and the stronger and more powerful they become. They have a trading strategy and plan and are not afraid to execute. They use stop losses and let profits run. They are not attached to the outcome of any one trade since they have mastered the ability to think in probabilities.

Lao-Tzu wrote in The Tao Te Ching, “There is no greater illusion than fear. Whoever can see through all fear will be safe.”

The remedy is to be a hunter and make fear your prey.

Have the courage to look it in the face, see it for what it is and chase it down.

Allow fear to propel you forward, to motivate you and challenge you, rather than keeping you frozen and stuck.

Facing the wind is a symbol of looking directly at something — of fighting greater odds. Visualize fear as the wind. Face it and then follow through with controlled, decisive and smooth action.

In this way, fear becomes an opening, not a closing and you are one step closer to getting what you want from the markets.

Dr. Janice Dorn is a Ph.D. (Brain Anatomist) and M.D. (Board-Certified Psychiatrist and Addiction Psychiatrist) who actively trades, writes commentary on the financial markets and manages a subscription-based website. Dr. Dorn has been trading the gold futures markets full time since 1993. She has written over 1000 articles on trader and investor psychology, and mentored over 600 traders and investors. She writes on all aspects of trading psychology and provides a real-time trading service on her website: TheTradingDoctor.com.