The Critical Mind, Inner Scripting, & The "Game" of Trading
As the prices of gold and silver flick up and down, moving towards the end of their first trading range I thought to myself "What should I write about today?" This is always a difficult question to answer, and I expect I begin four or five essays for each one that actually gets finished, and that's not counting the several versions of the final blog contribution!
The range of possible subjects is indeed very wide, but I have special skills in some areas and I prefer to return to these in order to know I am presenting something which is of value and maybe not all that commonplace already. I like to pick topics which are somehow related to trading, timing the markets, and the pitfalls and obstructions which pop up either expected or unexpected to bar the route of progress and encourage diversion away from the best direction.
Cycles, politics, geopolitics, TA, the behaviour of markets through recorded history, weakness within the individual which must be overcome, interpretation of recent events, or clues so as to gain insight into the plans of larger movers and shakers, and the next expected stages of the western/global fiat money system all can pass within the orbit of these weekly articles.
Hmmm .... the passage of time and fiat (paper) vouchers for actual things? Did you ever see Peter Sellars and Spike Milligan's best work on that?
Classic! And also the seeds of many great things which followed. Other great comedians stood upon the achievements of these giants to add their own achievements to the world of laughter.
So for today let's look at another original giant in his field, an often overlooked giant - what he did for us that we can use. I will in the process reintroduce that subject of Zen and the art of trading, which good traders appreciate, but newcomers just have not yet got. That's because balance always is a tough thing to describe and explain.
In our markets and trading zone, TA is usually taken to be the abbreviation for Technical Analysis which is the art or craft of charting. But outside the world of financial markets this is not the case. TA is also the abbreviation for Transactional Analysis. Transactional Analysis is a way of psychological classification of human to human interactive behaviours which can mask unseen underlying relationship states. It was developed by Eric Berne, a Canadian psychologist, nearly three decades ago.
Berne wrote many books, and his work has of course been taken further since that time, but if you are new to this, and you trade, and want to make money from trading instead of losing your money, you really need to read Berne's book "Games People Play".
There is a byline I saw which is very to the point: We think we’re relating to other people–but actually we’re all playing games.
Now I will add this to that comment above : We think we are driving ourselves but much of the time we are playing inner games. That can be absolutely disastrous while trading.
Here are a couple of comments from the Amazon page for the book:
This is one of the best books that I have ever read. I read it and recognized many games played by people I knew. I recognized some games I played myself, but did not like.
Great book that has been around forever.
In a nutshell, the author suggests that ppl,have hidden agendas/ulterior motives behind all of their actions. This may come as no surprise to you, but the way the book is written makes this all extremely fascinating.
He describes many people little games and motives such as destructive games, attention-getting games, sympathy-seeking games, etc. what is nice is the book tries to give you the ability to put a handle on them; define them, name them, see the "moves" associated with them, describe the "payoffs" associated with them, and plan antitheses to them.
Very interesting and a fun read.
I don't want to make an overly big deal advertising a book written in 1967, but if you haven't read it and you trade, read it soon (and weep for faulty motivation you had while choosing and making past losing trades ). And it's a great stepping stone into something modern on the subject of inner life scripts which we regularly follow without noticing.
For today here are a few of the "games" Berne describes and fleshes out in this book:
- IFWY: If It Weren't For You
- WAHM: Why does this Always Happen to Me? (setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy)
- SWYMD: See What You Made Me Do
- UGMIT: You Got Me Into This
- LHIT: Look How Hard I've Tried
- AIA: Ain't it Awful
So if you/I have been posting, chatting, or having conversations regarding the markets and our interactions with the markets .... and if one of us introduced a topic which falls under one of the above short headings ... then you/I will benefit from looking at our "life scripts". Berne's "Games" is a great start. Wikipedia had a page on the book but it's very condensed and a poor substitute for reading it in Berne's clear and gently witty words. It does explain the separate adult, parent and child "portions" of the ego within us and driving our behaviour.
So that's "TA" dealt with. Let's move on because there's more.
Here is a page about hypnosis:
Let me draw your attention in particular to the closing two paragraphs:
These techniques, and others like them, are designed to create the trance state, which makes the unconscious mind more readily available to receive new information. Hypnotic language also involves delivering that information in a form which the unconscious mind is more likely to accept. Deliberate confusion and ambiguity, metaphors, puns, analogies, stories and so on are all ways of smuggling the message in past the conscious mind, which tends to be more critical and analytical.
Finally, it's worth bearing in mind that politicians, advertisers and salespeople are all well aware of hypnotic language patterns. As such, a basic familiarity with those patterns can help you to defend yourself against those who don't necessarily have your best interests at heart.
I prefer to describe the language of hypnosis for entrancement and communication of information directly to the non critical (trusting) part of the human mind as: visualization, metaphor, story, emotion-feeling-sensation, and delivered with parental demeanor while speaking to evoke inner child as listener within the "target" of the exercise. An inspection of the various hypnosis and self hypnosis products available suggests strongly that an audio effect, a slight echo, which increases vocal timbre is also required for best effect.
And so we find that news readers and chat show hosts tend to evoke the respected grandparent , uncle or parent figure. The key adjective is "charismatic". We also find that politicians try to embody a "personal story" within their speech making. Assertions are best, a little confusion helps, and some contradiction is surprisingly a help rather than a hindrance in order to "slip inside the recipient's acceptance".
A slight drowsiness helps a lot, like maybe when you are tired in the evening and chilling out in front of the TV. Possibly at a real meeting the biggest speaker comes on last, after attendees are tired from the earlier speakers. Tiredness on the part of the recipient/target helps. Is mood music being used on the occasion?
Repetition by the speaker is very effective. Repetition by the subject is best.
For visualization it is not necessary to go further than Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech (a 1 minute excerpt link) and it's far reaching effects. Visualization of a drowsy state, together with repetition until a mantra (to be repeated later internally) formed within the listeners' minds permanently altering their world view. Of course church figures also use these techniques to "communicate" with their flock and all of the above features are contained within their work too. It must be so or it would just not work.
Link to Dr King's full speech here: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm
Soooooo ..... when you decide to put on a trade, or make a life decision ...... is it your inner child deciding? Are you receiving a picture from outside which motivates the decision? Is the person who brings you the information a silver haired parent/grandparent figure with a friendly smile? Are you being subjected to emotion and sensation or to information and facts? What was the voice like which brought you your "decision making information"? I leave this to you, reader, to apply these criteria to that which we are continually exposed, the many voices of the"Sheepleherds" of society and the financial markets.
We cannot balance unless we have an idea regarding where the centre is.
Now it says on my piece of paper I have here that I am running out of time. Got to fly!
Next week readers ... summer vacations are over! Children go back to school, and the old work routine returns. The traffic will be chaotic! Markets are soon due to wake up again! Imagine the flood of news that will appear and have to be taken in, tasted, and digested or spat out. Gusts of trading volume will blow away the balmy summer trading range boredom when that happens. I can't wait! I'll be right here letting you know what I think is coming down the pike and how we can best deal with it!
PS Did you see that? A visualization to remember happy vacation, a friendly family reference, a motivational rally comment, visualization of the trading decision making area with me included, and followed by a motivation to listen to me over the coming weeks and do what I say! This is easy! Torches of Freedom indeed! Roll over Bernays!
Once you see it, you only unsee it if you are made to visualize, or emote, sense, observe the luminous screen (trance inducing optical amplification!) or otherwise bypass the critical mind. Now I wonder why it is that Kramer is appearing in my mind as I type this? Hah!
Have a good day everybody!