Tackling Your Problems Will Never Optimize Your Life--Or Your Trading

Note:  While going through my old trading journals, I came across this piece of writing that I had typed out (pre-computer days!) in 1997, seven years before I began working with traders in financial markets. Reading through it today, I'm struck by how my concerns about traditional psychology are now mirrored by my concerns about traditional trading psychology. Below is a segment from what I wrote in 1997; see what you think.

Traditional psychology offers relatively little to the average person. It contents itself with solving problems, unlearning and relearning behaviors, remediating childhood conflicts, and ameliorating disorders. It has little to say regarding the development of supernormal states of consciousness, creativity, and greatness.

To be sure, there is nothing wrong with developing insight into one's past, getting in touch with disowned experience, or learning coping skills. These can be quite valuable and enriching. But the remediation of a deficit will never produce the achievement of an asset. Reducing unhappiness will not achieve joy, challenging negative self-talk will never generate greatness, and all the coping skills in the world will not yield the sustained focus, drive, and passion that are the hallmarks of extraordinary achievement.

A "psychology for the mentally well" begins with the realization, articulated by writers as diverse as G. I. Gurdjieff, Colin Wilson, William James, and Carlos Casteneda, that change is impossible while we remain in our habitual states of consciousness. Talking about "issues" or working on changing behavior while remaining in our characteristic states is like trying to improve the reception on a TV by switching channels.  "What can one do in sleep?", Ouspensky asks his students.  "One can only have different dreams--bad dreams, good dreams, but in the same bed. The dreams may be different, but the bed is the same."

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