Are you overly negative, or ignorantly positive?

Merritt BlackFutures, General Comments, Trading Psychology

It’s the end of the trading session. You’re a good boy- so you’ve definitely journaled and now you’re ready to begin your post-market review. This is where things get interesting for me as a mentor.

Let’s consider two traders: Overly Negative Nick, and Ignorantly Positive Pablo. They both made the exact same trade decisions that session, but let’s see how they review.

Overly Negative Nick’s review:

I just suck. I suck so bad. I ALWAYS make the wrong decisions! When I take a quick profit, the market runs, and when I hold for a big win, the damn thing turns on me! Agghhhh!!!!!!

My analysis was SO right. I totally knew the market was headed higher today. I was just a complete idiot trying stupid short ideas.

Ignorantly Positive Pablo’s review:

Didn’t make profits today, but that’s ok! I felt really good about my trading today. I absolutely did a great job managing risk and kept losers small enough.

Sure, I went against my premarket plans with a few short attempts, but that’s ok I won’t ever be perfect! This game is not about perfection! I have great resiliency and a great attitude that I will prevail. Another great thing was that my premarket analysis was spot on, I really saw what the market was looking to do that day (head higher) and it absolutely did that. Keep up that great premarket analysis.


Yuck! Both Overly Negative Nick and Ignorantly Positive Pablo are in trouble! Sure some of the above may seem silly, but I can assure you I see this type of talk frequently as I begin working with traders. What’s the real point we’re making here? Both of these traders are avoiding the truth.  They’re avoiding truths in very different ways, but ultimately it’s the same form of human nature to avoid the discomfort that accompanies truth. Do you recognize yourself in either of these traders? I would argue that this truth avoidance is really a coping mechanism in the face of stress/adversity. I think Dr. Steenbarger provides a great article on self-coaching with regard to improving coping.

 of these traders are really using their “reviews” to improve. They’re spitting out some general platitudes that do no one any good. They should be looking at what actions they took, why they took them, and how those actions compare with their PROCESS for trading. This should be done objectively. Traders of all personality types would be served well to quit seeing things so much as “good” and “bad”, but rather see actions made, and their rationale, from a more neutral perspective. Notice I said “using reviews to improve” which implies that the review at the end of the session is really the same thing as a beginning of something new. This is critical, and I’m reminded of yet another Dr. Steenbarger article on this cycle of growth from a self-coaching perspective.

You are on a journey of improvement. Errors will happen. They should not be totally avoided by being Ignorantly Positive. All negatives are not “negative”. It’s just your perception of them, or more importantly how you react to them. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you should not belittle yourself and continually talk down to yourself with regard to “negatives” as Overly Negative Nick did. Even myself and other traders on the desk that have access to the best coaches and mentors on the street ultimately have to self coach for most of our working day. Learning how to better self coach, is a talent within itself worth developing.

Ideally we want to be Balanced Bob. We need to objectively review performance. Balanced Bob doesn’t avoid the truth of mistakes and his shortcomings. Balanced Bob will readily admit negatives to himself without being overly critical of himself.

Use the mirror of negatives to reflect back and see a truth. Use that information to move forward with an actual plan for improving, armed with the truth. This lets you set a specific course of action for improvement next session.

Trade well,



*No relevant positions.