The Tough Love of Markets

After struggling with a period of frustration, a student recently shared a discovery: “Part of my learning is to join the fact that I will never be sure about a trade, that when I’m comfortable with risk and allow myself to be vulnerable and embrace loss, then, and only then, can I fully connect with what’s happening.” This led to her realization that profit is not the target, it’s the end result of joining.

This student’s personal insight is a beautiful example of the trader’s experience in discovering their personal lessons, which are unique to each of us. What’s your experience when you get stopped or are having a hard time trading? If you’re human, you’ll likely either bury the experience or try harder to avoid being wrong or to avoid the uncertainty that is inherent in markets and trading. You might search for a better setup or better lines or a better method or a better teacher. But have you noticed that no matter what you try, you come back full circle? Just like Peanuts’ Pig Pen could never stay clean, his cloud of dust perpetually following him no matter what he did otherwise. Trying harder only keeps you trying harder.

I spent over a decade doing this, all the while thinking I was learningI’m stubborn that way. It’s all I knew to do. But the market is a patient teacher and will continuously teach us the personal lessons that we need to learn, at the heart of which lie the things that motivate us to try harder to not be wrong or to avoid uncertainty. The trick is not to try harder but to instead reach for and into our experience of frustration and aversion and accommodate it and welcome it as a gift. Because without it, without the frustration, we would not see the lesson in the first place and we would not then learn.