If you are stock day trading out of addiction, you are unintentionally flushing your money down the toilet. You might not realize it, rationalizing your “investment” options as you watch your wealth dwindle with each trade.
Regardless of your investment style, you must rein in emotion if you expect long-term profitability in investments.
In this article, I’m going to share with you the similarities between typical addictions and stock market addictions. Recognizing these characteristics is your first step to conquering the addiction, and will result in greater profitability, addiction or not.
Active trading has a higher degree of perceived control than passive trading, and this can be dangerous. It’s one of the arguments traders make against using mutual funds. The argument is that by active trading, one can nimbly trade around market circumstances that funds cannot. Forget that the fund manager is more qualified than the trader 99 times out of 100.
This is similar to gambling where a gambler has control over each individual wager, rather than ownership in the casino.
Active trading is exciting. With great risk comes the potential for great reward, and this reward is usually met with the release of the chemical dopamine in the trader’s brain. The presence of this chemical means that trading is more than just a psychological addictionit can actually border on a physical one. These are the same characteristics of a gambler.
Another similar characteristic between trading and gambling is the potential for a quick buck, or easy return of money. Exacerbating this is the fact that it’s possible to receive a disproportionate amount of return through the use of margin and leverage.
Another problem with addictions like trading and gambling is perpetuation, a form of passive enablement. With each passing trade, the addiction is reinforced, regardless of whether the trade was a failure or success. A successful trade brings about the desire for a repeat performance, while a failed trade brings about the need for redemption or to make back that lost amount.
Let’s not lose sight of our goals. Trading is about making money, plain and simple. But to make money, you have to realize the difference between when you are trading and when you are gambling.
If you can successfully master that psychological stumbling block, you will most definitely become a better trader.