Forgiveness and Trading

Do you forgive yourself when you make a mistake trading? Do you hold it against yourself when you lose? Do you disparage yourself for results–not good enough, or horrible?

Do you forgive others–your broker, talking heads, various gurus and mentors, or systems mongers?

As you hold grudges against yourself and/or others, what does it do to you?

Some pretty bad things is my guess. When you can’t forgive somebody or some situation or event, you are twice hurt: the original event and your own unrelenting bitterness.

I used to do an overnight trade each night. I would buy 1,000 shares of one or more stocks in the last few minutes of trading and sell them in the first ten minutes of trading the next morning. One afternoon I was filled on my limit order in a particular NYSE stock. Later that night I realized it was not in my account. The stock that had been in my account had simply disappeared. When I gathered my phone messages, there was a message from my broker saying the NYSE specialist had cancelled the order after the close saying the price was a false print or some such nonsense.

Had I been told before the close, I would simply have gone to the market. This was my nightly MO. The stock was up well over a $1. on the opening. The missing trade cost me more than $1,000 profit. I felt at the time that my broker should have taken on the NYSE in my defense, and I felt the specialist had cheated me.

I was in a rage that night and that morning, but I needed to move forward with my trading. “Look, Ruth,” I said to myself, “you picked a winner, and you can find more winners. Stuff happens. Forget fairness. It’s a simple ideal. You need to clear your head and find the next opportunity.” And that’s what I did. Most of the time the process works. I needed to work the process, let the process work, and forget about the times when it doesn’t.

I’m not saying to lie down and be a doormat: I think we have to take action to protect ourselves. However once that is done, it’s time to let situations and people off the hook, and get on with our lives. Forgiveness is freeing. Independence and freedom are some of the highest values of most traders. How can you be free if you stoke your anger and bitterness against events, others, or your self?

Some traders are reluctant to forgive themselves because they fear they’ll keep repeating their mistakes. This is one of those things that seems to work in reverse. By scolding and belittling yourself, you are more inclined to repeat the error. Take the lesson, write it into your guidelines, and give yourself the benefit of the doubt. You don’t have to do that again. If you do (and you probably will), learn the lesson again, underline your guideline, and move on.

Trading is such a melee of tries and misses and tries and triumphs that a trader needs the balm of forgiveness in order to prosper. As traders we need to forgive ourselves and others. If we can’t forgive ourselves, we probably won’t forgive others; and if we don’t forgive others, we probably won’t forgive ourselves.

Because we need clarity of perception and pure intention to profit, we cannot allow grudges and recriminations to cloud our vision and purpose. Forgive and go free.