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Dorn: Traders, Are You Stuck?

Did you ever have one of those days when some Barry Manilow jingle wormed its way into your brain and you couldn’t get it out? Well, this morning, it was the one about being stuck on Band-Aids.

It goes something like this: “I am stuck on Band-Aid brand and Band-Aid’s stuck on me.”

Help me please. Let me fill my mind with Bach or Lady GaGa - anything but this stuff and the sights and sounds of the kids that sing it.

So that brings me to being stuck.

How do we get stuck and how do we get unstuck? As usual, the biggest secrets are those in plain view. The best way to hide a secret is not to hide it. So why do we get stuck in the markets? The answer is simple, but not easy: We get stuck on something because we are attached to the outcome of it. It can be anything - position, theory, analysis, word-up from some guru or a bit of compelling prose. Something happens, the brain clicks in and we buy the idea. We are then stuck on it and it is stuck on us. Now, we begin to look for confirmation that it is true. So we read and listen to everything that agrees with it, try to find confirmation, ignore anything that might disagree with us and keep on sticking. It’s called holding and hoping, but it really is just being stuck.

The quickest way to get unstuck is to abandon all attachment to outcome. In other words, you have a theory and you put it to work in the markets. It doesn’t work because the markets tell you it is wrong. Stop being attached to it. Get out. It was wrong. It was an illusion and never existed except on a paper or a graph or chart somewhere.

There is nothing wrong with making a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes and if you make mistakes on 40% of your trades you can still win big. Why? Because you are not attached to the outcome of any single trade. You get in, the markets prove you wrong, and you get out. It’s just like that. This is not rocket science.

However, if you for some reason keep a silly jingle in your head and keep singing the same old lines day after day despite watching your position go into the gutter, then you are attached to outcome. You are stuck on outcome and outcome is stuck on you. Try ripping that off without a big ouch. It’s not easy.

But it can be done and it is done every day, sometimes every hour by traders that know one thing:

The greatest source of suffering is attachment to outcome.

What are you doing today to get unstuck?

And I am thrilled now because writing this made the silly little jingle go away.

Get thee to another place of stickage, please. I am so over you.

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Dr. Janice Dorn is the only Ph.D. (Brain Anatomist) and M.D. (Board-Certified Psychiatrist and Addiction Psychiatrist) in the world 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.