Why Successful Forex Traders Accept Uncertainty & Why You Should Too
After much practice and study, most traders on the whole are pretty proficient at their chosen trading strategy such as price action trading, but where they can often be let down is how they think and approach their trading. Whether we like it or not, humans are not built for trading.
Humans are simply not conditioned to think in a way that is conducive to good Forex trading. Everyday life gets humans into thinking patterns that are great for life and great for coping with things like a family, jobs and social situations, etc., but when it comes to trading these same thinking patterns are of no use at all and actually become a hindrance a lot of the time.
Uncertainty Can Make Humans & Especially Traders Make Terrible Decisions
Humans love to have certainty in everything they do in life from their job situation to their relationships and from a young person are conditioned to believe that this is how things should be with sayings such as “Go to school and then get a good job” or “Find a nice boy/girl and get married” etc. Any uncertainty can cause real stress and this is why it is avoided in everyday life as much as possible. Humans love to have everything in control and know exactly what the outcome is of all situations where possible.
The simple fact about the markets is that you DON’T have control and if you place a trade the outcome is uncertain. No matter how great any trade looks or how sure a winner you think it will be, the outcome is uncertain. It is this uncertainty that professional Forex traders have worked out and conquered by learning how to trade with and not trying to fight or control.
Most things about the markets have uncertainty and this is why humans don’t make great natural traders. Where traders normally fall down is looking and craving for certainty in the markets, which causes them to make irrational decisions.
An example of this is; trader Carly puts a trade on to go long on pair xyz and then puts on her stop. Carly looks for the price to go higher on the daily chart and has a stop of 100 pips. Carly moves to the 5 minute chart to start monitoring the trade (Carly is over managing the trade on a much smaller time frame because she cannot handle the uncertainty of what is going to happen) and then she starts to see price moving lower by five pips on the 5 minute chart.
Because Carly is on the 5 minute chart to monitor the trade, this five pip move lower looks disproportionately larger compared to the daily chart she made the trade on.
Carly now decides that she better move her stop right up to protect her capital because to her it looks like the price is starting to make a major move lower after this five pip move, so she moves her stop up using the five minute chart to where she thinks she has found a very clever support level – in other words Carly is freaking out with feelings of uncertainty that humans get and hate.
She does not want to lose, but she does not know what else to do, so she does what most traders do in this situation and that is make terrible decisions when they are gripped with uncertainty. Carly is promptly stopped out, only to watch the trade she had placed for very good reasons go on to become a winner. This is a very familiar story and all for the same reason; traders struggle to deal with uncertainty.
This is just one common example of uncertainty affecting traders’ decisions, but uncertainty is what traders need to get used to dealing with because it is uncertainty that is the key to a successful trading mindset. Whilst learning to deal with the major trading psychological problems that get discussed in a lot of Forex blogs such as fear and greed are also very important, if a trader cannot learn how to be at ease with uncertainty and accept it, they will struggle to make money consistently.
The Key is Being at Ease With Uncertainty & Not Trying to Fight it
The key skill that professional traders have is that they have honed their ability to accept and be at ease with the fact that every outcome in the markets is uncertain. When the professional trader puts on a trade they are completely at ease with the fact that the trade they have just put on may go anyway and have also taken complete responsibility for that fact.
This may sound simple, but learning to be completely free and have a mindset that does not fret or worry and is completely at ease with uncertainty is something that is not quickly implemented overnight after years of conditioning to think differently. The hardest battle traders have when trying to think and be at ease with uncertainty is that they have had a lifetime of conditioning teaching them to think the opposite.
There are two times when traders have a perfect mindset and are making their best trades and this is normally 1: When they very first start trading and 2: when they are on a demo account. Have you ever noticed or do you remember how you made winning trades or you made money when you first started trading?
A huge number of people who start trading at first make money trading and they put this down to luck, but it is not luck, it is because when traders first start trading, they have a good mindset that is allowing them to make money, but very quickly it changes back to thinking in line with their human conditioning.
When a trader very first starts to trade they are happy just placing trades and they don’t have any expectations. Because they don’t have any expectations, whatever results come the trader’s way they are fine with. At this early stage they have the ultimate mindset; it is free and at ease. The trader is seeing the trade and placing the trade.
They are not worried or stressing about each pips movement, they are just putting the trades on and letting price do its thing exactly as a professional trader does. This ultimate mindset does not last long because soon the trader begins learning strategies and begins to gain expectations. Once this happens all the human thinking flaws quickly flood in and the trader will have trouble worrying about all the things that have been discussed above that can influence decisions making.
With professional and consistently profitable traders it is not that they don’t get that same feelings as every other trader; anyone that says that they block feelings out or that they don’t experience trading psychological issues is simply kidding themselves. Professionals have learned that to be comfortable in the markets is to be comfortable with uncertainty.
They don’t try to fight it or block it out. Instead, they live with it and think in probabilities.
Thinking in Probabilities & Uncertainties – How You Can do it Too
Professional traders understand that they have a profitable trading edge and that part of that entails having a rock solid mindset that thinks in probabilities and uncertainty. It can help a Forex trader to start thinking in uncertainty if they start thinking beyond individual trades and start thinking like a casino and in probabilities like professional traders do.
The first step in this mindset change is having a profitable Forex strategy. Once the trader has a profitable Forex strategy, it becomes a business of trading the numbers exactly like a casino and trading in probabilities. A casino understands that they will have losing hands and also have losing runs, but ultimately the house always wins and this is how professional traders approach their trading. Professional traders have a trading edge over the market and whilst every single trader in the world has losses and losing runs, it is the profits at the end of the month and year that count.
Once the trader starts trading this way it will enable them to start thinking completely differently about their thinking. The trader will be able to start thinking in probabilities and start focusing on the bigger picture and edge not just on the one trade at a time that is super important.
Thinking this way allows traders to give themselves over to be completely at ease with the feeling of uncertainty. The reason for this is; in the past where the uncertainty is a feeling of pressure and a feeling of every trade must be a winner, now the trader knows that they have an edge and it no longer matters what happens on this trade or the next. Just like the professional trader “they have fully accepted” that each trade is uncertain and that whatever happens will happen, but as long as their trading edge is profitable, after enough trades they will come out on top.
Whilst learning to deal with the common trading psychological pitfalls such as fear and greed are very important, the real key to trading success is learning to be comfortable with uncertainty. No matter how great any trade or setup may look, a trader must learn to accept that every outcome is uncertain.
Whilst a trader may have a trading edge that does not mean they will win every trade and learning to deal with the uncertainty of when the winners will come and when the losers will come is the key to profitability overall.
I hope this trading lesson has helped you think about the way you need to start approaching and thinking about your trading.
Safe trading and all the success,