Skip to main content

Keeping promises with yourself

For the untrained mind, there is no harder promise to keep than the promise we make with ourselves. It is easy to rationalise with ourselves as to why a promise we made is no longer valid and/or that we should forget about it altogether because it doesn’t really matter as it was only something we promised ourselves and didn’t share with someone else, so there is no-one to make us accountable, or responsible, for that promise – other than our own ‘self’. A promise that you make with yourself means that you are now in control of both sides of the ‘contract’ as you are acting as both parties to the deal. As such, it is just you and your sub-conscious mind that have any knowledge of the deal being made. No-one else knows anything about it, so the only person we deceive when we break such a promise is ourselves.

Whilst this may seem a bit weird and deep, the problem we create when we break these self made promises, is doubt and uncertainty. Doubt in our own minds that we are strong enough to do and achieve what we promised ourselves we would. In trading and investing, these broken promises often result in trades not being taken or the rules of a system not being followed – despite having promised ourselves we would follow the rules of the system exactly as they are meant to be followed. When a missed trade then goes on to deliver a profit we are left cranky with ourselves for breaking the contract we made with ourselves. Worse still, when we promise to obey the stop loss and exit rules of the system and we break that promise thinking that we know better than the system, only to then experience a much bigger loss than the system because we broke our promise!!

Successfully trading a system requires you to have complete trust in the system and to stick to the rules of the system so the results can be replicated. It essentially involves a ‘self promise’ to adhere to the rules as exactly as they are meant to be followed. In so doing, the negative emotions of fear and doubt can be overcome, your self promises can be honoured, and the profitable edge delivered by the system will result in positive out-performance of the market.

If there is no system in which to trust, then in what does one place their trust to overcome fear, uncertainty and doubt with respect to trading the markets?


  • Tim Moore says:

    So true Gary, a very astute post. I’m angry with myself that for the last year I’ve only been partially following the system, using some of the entry signals but trying to second guess the market and using my own exit signals with help from other sources. Have I done better than SWS? You all know the answer already! My issue is overcoming fear, easier said than done. I need some reprogramming very soon.

  • Michael Cullen says:

    That is the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Nothing to be added, except that if you have a proven edge and you don’t use it – that is irrational!

  • paul wilson says:

    I read this article yday and agreed with comments. It all made sense. Yet today, all signals lined up to short the current spi contract yet I failed to enter. It was a 100% qualified trade that went on to yield more than 50 points. So why didn’t I enter? In my case, it wasn’t about fear, it was more about lack of trust in my methodology. How could it be right? This is how I rationalise it … sometimes it gets thing wrong, and today is probably one of those times. Why should there be a reversal/down when onite mkts were up only a modest +0.36% (S&P).

    This is not the 1st time I’ve failed to enter a trade and no doubt won’t be the last. Earlier this week CPI figs were released (Wed). Onite mkts up a healthy +0.9%. Methodology detected a 100% qualified trade albeit in opposite direction. My thinking was my Method must be wrong. It was right of course and yielded a fantastic short trade.

    It’s in the human psyche to want to go with the crowd (direction of onite mkts). I need re-programming too. I keep telling myself “stick to the Rules”. But I don’t.

Leave a Reply