A reader asks: How do you handle fear? I seem to have plenty of it.
Let's get one thing straight. Fear, for the majority of traders, is a very real thing. You have it, I have it. Others have it as well. What is it that traders fear? The top three, in order, are:
- Fear of missing a trade.
- Fear of losing money.
- Fear of being wrong and losing face.
In order to become a professional trader, you must learn to deal with fear. The first step is to acknowledge that you have it, which is what you have done. Once you admit to fear, you can begin to deal with it.
When you notice the impulse to trade based on strong fear, it is usually best to literally step out of the trap by stepping out of the situation.
You need to get up, walk away from the computer. Turn off the television if it's tuned to a financial station, take a walk, get something to eat, go outside and cut the grass, water the lawn, or do anything that will move you out of the fear/panic mode.
Don't return to your trading desk until you have managed to achieve some emotional control over your fear/panic reaction. If you can't get a grip on your fear, then don't come back that day.
Most likely you will find that even if you keep thinking about the miserable market conditions while you water the lawn, simply getting away from the keyboard and monitor is enough to make a difference. It removes the demand to take action, and gives you the mental space to gain perspective and let go of your impulsive, fear-based reaction.