There are few experiences in this life that will more fully expose your strengths and weaknesses like trading the markets… Mentally, emotionally, spiritually, even physically.
Before we move forward, let’s take a look back. Do you remember where you were in Oct/Nov 2014, and what was happening in the markets? The market was doing something that it had never done before. It was making a record number of daily advances. Day after day, after day…like the market had never before seen in recorded history. It was also the time when ATR-based trading was birthed out of the pain of my unseen bias. My trading moved from fundamental, to technical, and then to unbiased trading based on ATR.
As many of you also know, about a year ago I read a book entitled “Market Mind Games” by Denise Shull. The book deals with the underlying emotions within us all that effect our trading, even if we aren’t aware of it. The book itself will not change your life, but the journey you take in its wake just might. Near the beginning of the book, Denise discusses a study performed by a group of Italian neuroscientists.
They studied a group of brain damaged individuals, where the only part of their brain that was damaged was the area that controlled emotions. In all other respects these individuals were completely normal. Each was placed in the bread aisle of a grocery store, and asked to pick which loaf of bread they would like to buy. Each stood frozen for thirty minutes to an hour, unable to make a decision. Eventually the researcher had to tell them which loaf to choose. The study proved that it is impossible to make decisions without engaging your emotions. Think about that for a second. How does that statement affect every decision in your life, not just your trading.
Denise goes on to discuss in the book the importance of remembering, writing about, and looking to understand your emotions. My exercise in this begin with keeping a simple journal for two months. Every time I was getting ready to make a trade, I would write down exactly what I was feeling.
The next step is taking those feelings that exist, whether they be fear of missing out, or anything else, and remembering back throughout your entire life to each time your had a similar feeling, and writing down the experiences surrounding them. This step is a much more challenging one, and not everyone is willing to go down this road.
But just like breaking the bias I held in 2014, led to the great success of ATR… Dealing with those issues you find most difficult, can lead to the greatest gain. Honestly, this process went on for over 6 months, and you wouldn’t believe the stuff that came out of it…too much for me to do justice here. With that said, writing about and discussing these issues in many cases is the cure for getting free from that which holds us hostage emotionally.
I say all that to say this: I started growing a beard this week. Thus, the title. As I was discussing it with some friends, one of them mentioned I should also use my new found luxurious facial hair to raise money for Movember. She also happens to live about 20 miles from our gracious host. What’s Movember you say? I asked the same question.
The Movember Foundation was formed in 2003, and is the largest global foundation of its kind that funds research for men’s health, including: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention. They have funded over 1,200 men’s health projects around the world, and raised close to $1 billion since their founding. They are a non-profit organization, and donations are tax deductible.
So why am I taking up a part of your Slope weekend to share this you might ask? Here is where the two parts of my story intersect. Of the four issues that Movember funds research for, the first two I will confess thankfully I do not have any experience with anyone I know personally. However, the last two certainly jumped off the page at me: mental health and suicide prevention.
Six years ago, my uncle committed suicide. He was in his fifties, and I had known him since my birth. We were close. He was a classically trained singer, gifted with a huge operatic voice, and had a commanding persona/charisma that was even larger. If you shared a room with him, you would know he was there. He was also gay.
Growing up in the South, with a father that deals with his own emotional issues, you can imagine how this affected my uncle. With that said, for most of his life you would have never known it. Outwardly, even up to his death, he was cracking jokes with me, and he even developed an extensive interest in economics. Much of what he was dealing with, I never knew until after his death. The only one he felt comfortable confiding in his true self, was my mother, who was sworn to secrecy.
She honored his wishes, and after his death described to me all he had been dealing with. He was HIV-positive for the last fifteen years of his life. His physical illness was not the cause of his suicide, as it was being well managed. However, he was terrified of sharing much of what truly mattered to him, and what he was going through emotionally out of fear of rejection. It hurts to hear, as I would never treat anyone in such a manner, let alone someone I cared about personally. But to the person who is wounded emotionally, it doesn’t matter what they know, it only matters what they feel. Emotions are engaged in every decision made, and until an emotional wound is healed…it lingers in every decision we make.
As the years went by leading up to his death, we saw each other 4-5 times a year at family gatherings. We laughed. I would always give him a hug, and we would sit around eating, talking, and making each other laugh. The last time I saw him was at Christmas, and less than two months later he was gone.
This is the reason the Movember Foundation spoke to me. To honor his memory, and help those who suffer, I started the drive to raise money. My first goal is to raise a minimum of $1,000, and we’ll see where we go from there. I started off the process by donating $100 myself. If you are interested in donating, please go to this link. Again, all donations are tax deductible. Thanks for listening. You may not realize it, but the Slope is therapy for us all. Have a great weekend!