The market likes to throw chaos our way. Uncertainty is its nature.
Even with routines, systems and processes that are supposed to make things a little more peaceful, organized and predictable, sometimes, the market will do the unexpected — like, gapping well below your stop, reversing course just when it’s about to hit your target price, handing you a string of losses…
That’s when things get hectic and complicated, especially in our own minds.
But, how sane we can remain in the middle of all this uncertainty determines how good we do in this field.
So how does one get good at handling uncertainty?
The answer is very simple, and it won’t surprise you: it’s practice letting go.
The Practice of Letting Go
Let’s see what this practice entails.
First, you need to understand that when the market throws uncertainty your way, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The situation is not inherently stressful; it’s not inherently anxiety-inducing. It’s just your mind making up stories about how and why it is.
In other words, it’s all perception.
The problem isn’t outer circumstances, the problem is our internal stories and expectations we’re holding on too tightly.
Our minds don’t usually like chaos and uncertainty. We naturally crave order and certainty, and that’s what we unconsciously expect out of life, and out of the market.
So, we come up with stories to explain why we want things to be a certain way instead of accepting them as they are.
This creates inflexibility in our minds… and, by being so rigidly attached, we are causing our own difficulties in trading.
The good news is that, if we ourselves created the ideals in our minds by thinking too much about the past or by projecting too much into the future, we ourselves have the power to change it.
The simple solution is to just practice letting go.
What if you let go of all the stories about how you want things to be, and instead created a new story: the situation in front of you will unfold the way it will. And you’ll be okay!
Letting Go is Acceptance
Accepting trade outcomes as they unfold, without any prior knowledge of how they’ll unfold, is true power.
If you want to go Zen monk style in your approach to trading, this is the way to go!
Acceptance means seeing the beauty of each moment, no matter how it unfolds, no matter what the outcome is, no matter how uncomfortable or painful it seems.
Acceptance is knowing intimately that uncertainty can’t hurt you; that everything is just made-up stories and that you have the power to change that by changing your perspective.
Acceptance doesn’t mean that you have to just sit there passively and wait for your fate.
Acceptance is knowing that you have a reliable trading system. (hopefully, you do)
Acceptance is knowing that it’s there to protect you against uncertainty as much as it possibly can.
And finally, acceptance is choosing to follow that system with complete disregard to what happens in the short-term… because short-term results don’t mean anything if you playing the numbers game!
Notice, Accept, Let Go…
Any situation is inherently neutral. Again, what is painful or uncomfortable is the stories you tell yourself.
And again, the whole practice is to just let go and accept what is.
So, when uncertainty strikes:
- Notice that you are getting frustrated, or anxious.
- Notice that your stories and expectations you hold are causing the difficulty. Not the situation itself.
- Understand that the stories are not always true or relevant, or helpful.
- Accept the mental stories that are causing you to struggle.
- The moment you notice the stories and accept them, you are simply returning to the present moment, a point in space and time that is neutral, with no expectations, no stories, just seeing the situation afresh and with unfiltered eyes and an open heart and mind.
- See the beauty and perfection in the moment in front of you.
- With kindness, redirect your attention to your trading process and system.
Easier said than done… I know. But, the difficulty comes from two things:
- You don’t like to let go of the stories and the expectations you hold. You want things to be the way you want them to be. You want control over things. It’s normal. It’s human nature.
- You find it difficult to truly be present and see the perfection in every moment of life (even the ones wrapped in uncertainty). Things often don’t live up to your expectations, so seeing the beauty in them is foreign and uncommon. This is also normal.
But again, the answer to these problems comes with practice.
You gotta start somewhere… so don’t use those difficulties as excuses. (there go the mental stories again.)
Last Few Words…
Whenever you have difficulty with uncertainty, with accepting things as they unfold, this itself is an opportunity for practice. And what a wonderful opportunity it is.
How can this situation be your teacher? How can you open up instead of recoiling?
Feel the internal struggle. Feel the sharp edge in your chest when things start to fall apart and get messy. Feel the frustration in your torso and belly. Let yourself feel all of that, fully!
Notice what’s going on in your mind. See how you can let go of the stories and expectations.
Then see how everything is just an opportunity.
When time and again you’ve practiced this act of opening up; when you’ve refined it and have mastered it fully, the world (and the market) will finally become your oyster.