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First, the shoulds or inner dictates are adopted with disregard for their feasibility. People come to believe that they should simultaneously be perfect traders, spouses, parents, musicians, and athletes. They should be able to solve every problem of their own, or others, on their own and in short order.

Second, the shoulds are experienced with disregard for the conditions un der which they could be fulfilled. Thus, a trader may understand that he or she must m aster market knowledge before being able to trade effectively but will feel that reading one or two books should provide mastery. He or she will ignore the fact that becoming proficient as a trader requires a period of education and daily drilling, just like any other acquired skill. Working within this context, the trader will invariably make mistakes that could have been avoided through more practice and learning. But instead of owning up to the fact of not knowing enough, he or she will rationalize away the error and find some outside factor to blame.

Third, the inner dictates operate with "disregard for the persons own psychic condition -for what he can feel or do as he is at present." A person should never feel hurt, never feel angry, never lack the desire to work, and so on. "He simply issues an absolute order to himself, denying or overriding the fact of his existing vulnerabilities."

Fourth, the shoulds take on the quality of abstraction-they lack the genuine and spontaneous character of true moral ideals. What I mean by this is that the shoulds are experienced as ends in themselves instead of the means to ends.

In the last chapter, I spoke of the limiting values and beliefs people place

on themselves. Do you see the connection between the tyranny of the shoulds and these limiting associations? Once again, the tyranny of the shoulds shows up in how you talk to yourself and to others.

If you say, "I can not," you are placing an immediate and absolute limiting value on yourself.

If you say, "I have to," you are displacing the motivation to act from your own ends and purposes to something outside of yourself, and the result will be that you do not experience the action as your own.

If you say, "I must be able to," you are setting yourself up to avoid the opportunity to leam from your mistakes-you will be too busy condemning yourself for failure to be able to look at your errors objectively and positively.

People seeking mastery attempt to identify themselves totally with their idealized image of themselves and with their inner dictates:

[C]onsciously or subconsciously, [he tends] to be proud of his standards. He does not question their validity and tries to actualize them in one way or other. He may try to measure up to them in his actual behavior. He should be all things to all people; he should know everything better than anybody else; he should never err; he should never fail in anything he attempts to do .... And, in his mind, he does measure up to his supreme standards. His arrogance may be so gr eat that he does not even consider the possibility of failure, and discards it if it occurs. His arbitrary rightness is so rigid that in his own mind he simply never errs.

Driven by their particular set of shoulds, people seeking mastery through adherence to the shoulds must evade reality on a grand scale. Such people appear to thrive on admiration, respect, and blind obedience. They may be generous and charming, especially to newcomers in their lives who offer them further sources of admiration. They may pride themselves on sexual conquests, on their circle of influential friends, on their unique material acquisitions, and so forth.

For them, there is little distinction between what they are, and what they should be. But no matter what they do, they are always faced with the potential knowledge that their shoulds are, in fact, unattainable.

Because the need for perfection is so great in such individuals, they are often driven to tangible levels of achievement and ability. I dont want to mention names, but I have known several traders of this type. Without exception, they have been good at what they do, very generous with their knowledge, and charming and interesting to talk to. But also without exception, they make themselves immune to debate and disagreement in areas important to them.

Generally, when a trade goes against them, they blame it on the "stupidity" of everyone else in the market. They make excuses like, "Im just one step ahead of everyone else." On the rare occasion that

they admit to making mistakes, their reason for making the mistake is the only plausible one in their minds. One of the things I notice most about them is their stubbornness not only about trading, but also about politics, economics, the nature of relationships, or whatever.

I believe this is an indication of the degree of resistance they have built into their subconscious with regard to the healthy process of leaming and growing. Because their main focus is self-glorification, they are unable to challenge themselves beyo nd a certain level without putting the whole delusion at peril, so stubbornness is the result.

People who attach themselves to an imaginary and idealized love as the solution to their anxiety are quite different. Where people seeking mastery do their utmost to adhere to the shoulds, people seeking "love" as their total solution feel totally inadequate to the task of living up to their set of inner dictates. In effect, they think that if they attain their ideal love, it will unleash the powers within them and fill them with the power to live up to the dictates of their inner tyranny.

Without going into too much detail, these types generally attach themselves to someone, usually a person seeking mastery, with complete and unquestioned devotion. They become dependents, regardless of the value of the person they are involved with. They also make lousy traders because they lack the focus, self confidence, and independence of judgement required to play the game and stick to the rules.

People who value "freedom" are prone to rebel against their inner dictates:

Because of the very importance which freedom-or his version of it-has for him, he is hypersensitive to any coercion. He may rebel in a somewhat passive way. Then everything that he feels he should do, whether it concerns a piece of work or reading a book or having sexual relations with his wife, tums-in his mind-into a coercion, arouses conscious or unconscious resentment, and in consequence makes him listless. If what is to be done is done at all, it is done under the strain produced by the inner resistance.

He may rebel against his shoulds in a more active way. He may try to throw them all overboard, and sometimes go to the opposite extreme by insisting upon doing only what he pleases, when he pleases. The rebellion may take violent forms, and then often is a rebellion of despair. If he cant be the ultimate of piety, chastity, sincerity, then he will be thoroughly "bad," be promiscuous, tell lies, affront others.

Regardless of what form the rebellion takes, the pursuit of this kind of "freedom" makes it virtually impossible to be a successful trader because even the mention of the word "discipline" is perceived as coercion. In addition, anyone who is rebellious in this manner will be very reluctant to form a plan.

The traders I know and have known with this kind of personality are generally erratic. They may alternate between sticking to the rules and trading well and then take a position way too large relative to their account balances and lose three weeks of profits in a single trade. It is as if when they succeed by sticking to the rules, they are compelled to sabotage the results and lose their profits in an act of defiance.

In any of its many forms, the tyranny of the shoulds is a terrible, limiting force. The strength of moral imperative drives the subject of the tyranny to sail ahead directed by a phantom: neurotic pride.


Genuine pride is the feeling obtained from the attainment of values established in the process of self-actualization. Neurotic pride is the feeling attained by the apparent attainment of one or more of the "inner dictates."

Neurotic pride is the source of motivation that keeps people from changing, that makes them stay miserable, and that, ironically, gives them the strength to carry on. It is the result of an attempt to substitute the achievement of the "shoulds" for the attainment or maintenance of genuine values. It is a sense of specialness gained by focusing and acting on the idealized self and imagined pot entials.

But the core self never goes away. It is there to remind us that a life chasing a carrot on a stick leads nowhere. If we are to get the results we want in life, we have to strive to achieve values and

goals based on a positive, realistic view of ourselves and our relationship to the world. We need to leam to listen to ourselves and be able to grasp those fleeting moments when that inner self speaks out saying, "something is wrong here."

If you are unable to stay motivated in your attempts to achieve your goals; if you find yourself feeling that life owes you special treatment; if you feel unrewarded in the attainment of a goal; if you feel alienated from yourself; if you recognize some of what Ive talked about in this chapter as applying to you; then it is

time to challenge yourself at a very fundamental level and question your deepest motivations. If you do, you will probably find the false pride system in operation.

You can conquer false pride. The first and hardest step is realizing that h is there. Challenging false pride, casting aside the idealized self-image, acting according to genuine values instead of according to the tyranny of the shoulds is something that is emotionally painful. The beliefs and associations you have formed by living within the search for glory feel very vital and important to you, and they may be very difficult to cast off

Two million years ago, when our ancestors faced danger, they had to be right, or they would die. By contrast, making mistakes is an unavoidable part of trading. It is the unwillingness to admit making mistakes, bom of false pride, that stops most traders from succeeding. It is their underlying psychology that undermines their ability to execute according to the mles. - As a trader, and as a person, you have a choice. You can let emotions bom of the search for glory determine your behavior while ignoring the facts; or you can recognize that you have to leam in order to grow, and with teaming come mistakes. You are going to make mistakes-youre going to win sometimes, and youre going to lose sometimes, too. When you make a mistake, you can grow by analyzing the mistake and changing your behavior according to what you leam. This process leads to constant improvement of your skills and to a positive e stimate of yourself. Practiced consistently, it will lead to self-esteem, not to mention more, and more consistent, profits from trading.

Remember that, no matter how vital the pain associated with challenging false pride and the search for glory may seem, if you dont challenge them, they will rob

you of your ability to experience the intense pleasure and serenity that accompany the process of tme growth and achievement. By using the knowledge in this and previous chapters, as well as many other resources available, you can conquer false pride and discover the real sense of pride that comes with "actualizing your given potentialities."

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