Written by Maria Meramveliotaki-Simon

When it comes to trading, the general consensus is that we should be able to control our emotions in order to succeed. We shouldn’t be greedy, fearful, impatient or easily disappointed because we may not trade objectively. Therefore, the only thing that seems reasonable is to try hard in order to eliminate emotions.

Anyone who has traded knows that this easier said than done. You may have read that the key to not letting emotions ruin your trading performance is to take care of the practical sides of trading such as having a trading and money management plan, education on technical and fundamentals, demo practice etc.

You may have also heard that you should strive for emotional control because the highest percentage of trading success boils down to psychology. However, even if you have a good trading and money management plan, you may have failed to follow it and instead let your emotions drive your trading. This has happened not because you are not aware of the impact that emotions exercise on trading, neither because you didn’t want to control your emotions. You just couldn’t control them.It’s somehow impossible to pose an internal discipline on ourselves so as not to feel; this doesn’t only apply to trading but to every situation in life.

So although we know that we are not supposed to get overwhelmed by anxiety or anger, we do. Is it because we are not strong enough or disciplined enough? It’s actually neither. The answer lies in a fact that is contrary to common sense, but newer psychological approaches (such as Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) constantly validate it: We are fighting a battle that cannot be won. And paradoxically, the more we are unwilling to feel the difficult emotions of trading, the more we will have them and the more they will drive our actions. The struggle for emotional control is futile. Attempting to control or avoid emotions can often be more damaging than beneficial.

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