Tools and Techniques to Develop the Mental Edge

The Awesome Power of Belief: 4 Steps to Bring Vital Belief into your Trading

Everyone knows that belief in oneself contributes immensely to success.   This is true for any endeavor—whether it be in trading, sport, entrepreneurship, the professions, or the arts—and at any level, from novice to expert.  In trading, the best traders have a positive self-belief most of the time.  They weren’t born with it; most learned to develop it.  But even the most successful traders can have their moments.

Successful Traders Have Doubts

In a report summarizing interviews with over 200 highly successful traders, one key finding was that all successful traders—no matter how experienced and no matter how successful—have doubts about their trades.  Doubt was routinely found in successful traders even after 20+ years of trading!  Highly successful traders can become uncomfortable in their trades just like anyone else.

The truth is that hesitation, self-doubt, and even self-criticism (e.g., “I’m no good; I’ll never be a trader”) is experienced by everyone.  Over my two decades of practicing psychology, I have never met anyone who doesn’t have doubt and, sometimes, self-critical thoughts.

Accept Your Doubts

So, the real question is: What do we do with doubt and self-critical thoughts?  The best cutting-edge research in psychology says: Accept them.  Allow them, but don’t believe them.

When I say “accept them” I mean simply accept them as words and thoughts, nothing more.  Our minds generate thousands of thoughts a day.  This is just one of them.

At the same time believe that it is your right to be successful.  You have come to whatever level of trading you are on for a reason—you’ve worked hard for it and have earned it.

Keep in mind that you do have to keep earning it every day, and on every trade.  It never ceases.  When doubt and self-critical thoughts creep in, they distract you from your trades and the trading actions you may need to take.  You lose focus on what really matters and your trading suffers.  This is the real crime of buying into wayward thoughts.

Four Things You Can Do

Here are four effective steps you can take:

  1. Be mindful and stay present.  Know that you have worked hard to this point and are willing to work even harder.  Mindfulness helps you to see thoughts of self-criticism and doubt for what they are: just thoughts created by the mind you need not struggle with.  Learning and practicing mindfulness directly helps you avoid the distractions caused by believing things the mind tells you.


  1. Believe in yourself.  Even if you don’t fully believe, act as if you do.  Actions do speak louder than words.  They speak louder than thoughts, too.


  1. Above all else, refrain from struggling with those self-critical thoughts—just let them occur.  Trying to suppress or eliminate them only adds to their power.


  1. Then, refocus your attention on the trading task-at-hand and do what matters most for your trade and for yourself as a trader.

This is easier said than done.  Like everything worthwhile in life, you have to work at this, too.   It may be hard to do at first, but it is certainly not impossible and definitely gets easier with practice.  A trading psychology edge occurs when we start to shift from our old patterns of thinking to constructive ones.  Believe that you can do it and you will!

Transforming thought patterns becomes easier when you understand what mental skills are needed in trading.  To help you in this regard, you are invited to claim your free, seven-part e-course on developing trading-specific mental skills from the author’s website.  Simply click here.  You will receive daily emails detailing practical trading psychology tips you can immediately use to improve your trading.  At the end of the series, you will also receive a bonus—so there are eight great tips in all!