“If trading (or any other job or endeavor) is a source of anxiety, fear, frustration, depression, or anger, something is wrong—even if you are successful in a conventional sense.” – Jack D. Schwager
Anger is an emotion that is a great tool for protecting our boundaries and safety. Anger is the internal bodyguard that allows us to protect ourselves from harm in many areas. Anger can stir us up to action to right wrongs and defend our own interests at the right time and place against the right enemy or intruder into our life. However anger is not a useful tool when it is used inappropriately against perceived enemies that do not exist. If a trader truly believes that the market action as a whole is out to get them or that those high frequency traders and market makers are the ones specifically causing them to be unprofitable then they have issues that they need help with. The market does not know we exist, the market as an entity in itself does not exist. The stock market is a composite of all the buyers and sellers taking action simultaneously and the current price is the reality of that collision of decisions. It is the actions of all the hedge fund managers, mutual managers, investors, traders, market makers, and high frequency traders doing battle that creates the price action.
Each trader has the complete freedom to dip their own bucket in that fast moving river of prices and try to drink from it. No traders are forced to buy or sell; they can choose their timing for entries and exits along with their trade size. It is truly the world’s greatest free market. You make a decision and then are rewarded or punished for the quality of that decision. There is nothing to be angry about. If you are a low frequency trader then high frequency traders can do little to effect you. If you are a swing trader then day traders are of little concern. If you are a trend follower you have risen above the majority of the market noise and are just going with the bigger flow of capital. The more you can limit your frustration as a trader the less your chances of being angry at the market.
A trader can become angry with themselves due to their own actions. It is incredibly self destructive to turn your anger inward on yourself. You can only move forward through your next action being the right one. Turning on yourself in anger is incredibly self destructive. This is a risk greater than simply losing money; you can come back from financial losses but not from being so anger with your own actions that you lash out against yourself or even worse take out your inner frustration on your family or friends. Trading small enough that you do not weigh yourself down with too much stress is the very best way to manage anger which usually is simply a side effect of stress. Accepting that there is no “Market” as an entity that is out to get you is another cure for anger. We can’t be angry at the market; there is no target to aim at. All the other participants also put their own capital on the line and take their own risks like we do. We battle them for the money, if they win and we lose then we need to be good sports about it and try again.
Anger is the primary cause of over trading trying to force the market to give us money. Anger can arise when a trader’s goal is blocked by price action. Revenge trading is the result of anger making bad trades in the desperate attempt to force the market to give back money that was previously lost. Anger is one of the worst trading signals any trader can ever use. A trading plan can be a trader’s bodyguard that protects them against angry trades that are triggered by how they feel not a legitimate buy signal. Trade the plan not the anger.
Anger can be managed through acceptance and perspective and what our anger is trying to defend our boundaries from. We must define who or what our enemy is. Is our anger justified based on reality or is it just a loss of perspective? What is the most constructive thing that we can do to manage our anger? Is our anger justified or is it an illusion? Is our decision on how to handle our anger going to get us closer to our goals or further from them?
Anger is an emotion that will show up, it is part of being human. What matters is how we find the spaces between our anger and thoughts to let logic and reason come forth to protect us from going down the angry road of self destruction chasing ghosts. Rich traders are good at managing their self so their anger does not control them they control how they respond when it arises.
Angry traders are quickly broke traders.