How To Reprogram Your Mind for Trading Success

Anyone can talk about effective trading mindsets. But what does it really take to change your thinking and achieve trading success? In our last post, I talked about the incredible power of having a mindset of gratitude, and how it can greatly help your trading. A perceptive reader, aptly called Attitude Trader, mentioned that gratitude was the most important part of his daily routine. Now the question I have is, which word in that sentence do you think is the most important one?

Well, even though gratitude was the focus, the most important word is routine. You see, you can talk about effective trading mindsets all you want, but unless you create a routine and deliberately instill that mindset, your old ways of thinking will soon kick in and you’ll be back where you started.

The Unconscious Always Wins

The reason for this is that we all have a great deal of unconscious programming. And while we may consciously like a certain mindset and believe in its effectiveness, that doesn’t mean that we’ll be able to consistently think that way- especially when things get tough. In those instances when we feel pressure, our old programming- that was still sitting there beneath the surface- gets re-triggered and we completely forget the new mindset we just learned.

How often has this happened to you? You promise yourself that you’re going to think a certain way while you’re trading, and no sooner than the first loss hits or you miss a good opportunity, all the effective mindsets are thrown out the window and you revert back to your old negative way of thinking. The reason I know this is because I’m just like you. I’ve experienced this more times than I’d like to remember in my life. And it’s especially amplified when it comes to trading.

But if you want trading success, you can’t let this keep repeating endlessly. And the way to stop it from repeating is by reprogramming your unconscious mind. It’s not enough to be motivated and to tell yourself you want to think in a certain way. That will fly out the window the next time adversity hits because it’s at the level of the conscious mind. And your unconscious mind is much more powerful than your conscious mind. It’ll eventually win out every time.

Reprogramming For Trading Success

So how do we reprogram the unconscious mind? Well, we have to go back to that important word mentioned at the start of the post. We need to deliberately practice a daily routine. Because when you set time aside to deliberately practice something, and you turn it into a routine that you must follow each day no matter what is happening, over time this daily mental routine will become so normal to you that it will be ingrained in your mind and will seep into your unconscious. And when that happens, that’s when changes can stick.

You see now you’ll be so used to thinking in that certain way that it will almost feel wrong to not think that way. And even if your old thinking habits pop back up, which they still may if they’ve been ingrained deeply for years, you’ll now notice them very quickly. Because now they’ll no longer be what’s completely natural to you (like water is natural and the only thing a fish knows), but rather they’ll be juxtaposed against a different kind of backdrop in your mind. So they’ll be easier to spot, and you won’t just fall into them unconsciously. Now you’ll be aware of them from a different perspective. And when you become aware of your negative thought patterns like that, you take them from the unconscious to the conscious part of your mind, where they can no longer run the show on automatic.

With time, this continuous awareness will itself assist in the reprogramming of your mind, adding to the deliberate practice you do in your daily routine. But just how much time is needed to really ingrain something into your unconscious so it becomes the natural way to think? There’s no exact answer here, but here are a few guidelines:

  1. The more pervasive and deeply ingrained the thought pattern that you want to change, the more time it will take to reprogram it.
  2.  At the very least, you should deliberately practice a mental routine (for example one on expressing deep gratitude) every day for 30 – 60 days.
  3. The more focus and feelings you put into your practice, the more rapid and the deeper the effect.
  4. To really turn the new mindset into your natural way of thinking it’s best to keep doing at least some short version of the routine, and also to attempt to practice the new mindset at any chance you get even outside of your trading.

Even though doing this (like doing anything else that is worthwhile) takes time and effort, you don’t have to make it into an unpleasant, majorly time-consuming chore. Even 5 focused minutes a day can be enough to gradually reprogram your mind. And if you want trading success bad enough, that should be a very small price to pay.

If you practice any mental routines that are helping you achieve more trading success, we’d love to hear about them and about any insights you may have regarding making routines effective in general.



  • Your best post yet! ;)

    Two hopefully helpful things:

    First: I’ve found that if I think of what we call “the subconscious mind” as nothing more than deeply ingrained habits of thinking (based on beliefs, experiences, or whatever), it makes it much less “mysterious,” and gives me a very concrete way of approaching it: change those automatic habits of thought and I’m changing my “subconscious mind.”

    Second: I’ve tried a lot of mental techniques, but it’s hard to stick with them just because they’re “good for you.” They were always “work” for me because I never really saw any results. But when I started deliberately and consistently practicing gratitude (as discussed in your last post) I began to see results in every area of my life within a few weeks. So now it’s not work anymore. It’s something I do just like I eat healthy to stay fit, or work out to build muscle. It’s easy for me to do it because it works so well.

    Thanks for another great post.


    • mike

      Agree 100%. I have a developing list of core beliefs that i read twice a day (along with other things) and one of my core beliefs is “gratitude is my foundation for success and how i live my life. Thank you for the efforts you put here on the blog.

      • Thanks Mike. And what you do is great. Most people, and specifically traders, are completely unaware about just how much their beliefs will determine their success. Having a list and reading it daily helps to ingrain the beliefs you want, especially when you read them with focus, feeling, and faith. And the core belief that you mentioned is definitely a great one.

    • Thanks for the insightful comment AT! Your point about how it makes it less mysterious when you look to understand what is the subconscious makes is a great one. We tend to be afraid of the unknown, so making something less mysterious is of great help.

  • GMB

    Another fantastic post Zaid

    I remember that I read somewhere that it takes approximately 21 days to change the subconscious mind. A really good book on the subject is “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz, a must read for every trader in my opinion.

    I did similar exercises for a period and it paid off, but the biggest change came when I decided to stop worrying about what might happen in the future and what has already happened in the past and put all my focus on the present. Not what the market told me 1h ago but what it tells me right now.

    Study awareness, test googling it. I began to study and apply it to develop my trading but notice that it also affected everything in my everyday life.

    “Know thy self, know thy enemy (market)
    A thousand battles, a athousand victories ”
    -Sun Tzu

    / GMB

    • GMB


      “Another fantastic post Ziad” =)

      • =) Thanks GMB. And thanks for the great insight and book recommendation. I’ve heard of that book before, and it came highly recommended. Also, staying focused on the present is huge. One thing I’d note though, is that it’s much more effective to think of the market as a friend rather than an adversary. We can strategize like we would if we were going to war, but thinking of the market as a friend that brings you great benefits will put you in a more conducive state of mind for trading. All the best to you!

  • Aaron

    Awesome post Ziad! The power of gratitude isn’t talked about often, but even less discussed is how to actually implement it. Here’s 3 things I’ve found extremely helpful in cementing the gratitude mindset-

    1) EmWave biofeedback. It’s immediate feedback meditation. You basically train your subconscious to maintain a relaxed state by getting feedback telling you when you are in state and out of state. One of the best ways to get into the “coherent” state is to generate a feeling of appreciation/gratitude while focusing your energy around your chest/heart. I have the desktop version but I’ve heard he mobile version is good also. 10-15 minutes a day can make a dramatic difference.

    2) Tonglen meditation is another great way.Here’s a great post about it. 15 minutes a day with this also makes a dramatic difference fairly quickly.

    3) The last tool I’ve found helpful is at the end of each day listing what made you feel good during the day. It could be making someone laugh, the feeling of sticking to your trading plan and seeing the results, etc. Doing this programs the mind to be more aware of what makes you feel good, and what you are grateful for. I find it best to do this during my normal market review routine at night.


    • Thanks Aaron! And awesome advice and recommendations. There are many great techniques, and the key is for traders to put them into a routine, like your market review one.

  • EasySkanking

    Indeed, there’s nothing more important in trading success or in success in life in general than a good psychology. Why? Simply put, because what we think, we do. What does this mean? It means that if you think “I can’t” you won’t be able to do what you are trying to do, **no matter how hard you try**. That’s just not how it works. Your mind precedes everything that you are able to do or not.

    This is why you could be the best trader in the world and still if you say to yourself in your mind “I can’t do it”, you won’t be able to. This is why it is true that “what you believe so shall you be.” So if you believe that the market is hard, impossible or that only highly-educated people can be successful at it, guess what? The market will be hard for you, impossible, and unless you become “highly-educated”, you’ll never be successful at it (unless you change your beliefs of course.)

    And who says that our beliefs are true? We hold so many ideas as true that limit us that aren’t even true. Like the belief that “money is the root of all evil” or that “money is bad”. Really? If it was bad, would it feed you, clothe you, entertain you, keep your family alive, etc.? And what about the belief that “guns are bad”? Why are they bad? Do they get up and start shooting people? Guns are innocent, just a tool – and can be a good tool. Guns can save the lives of your family (in such rare extreme situations) or it can help a hunter gather food more easily (though that is unnecessary nowadays). A gun is just an advanced bow-and-arrow. It is a good thing. It made life easier for us and allows us to protect ourselves (highly easily) against psychos. Is it their fault that people can *choose* get one and shoot an innocent person for no reason? If there weren’t guns, those same people would *chose* something else to do the same thing. So why don’t we also hold the common belief that “knifes are bad” just as we do with guns, then? Is it because they can be used to cut your food? Because it’s more obvious that they are helpful, than it is with guns?

    Whatever the reason may be, it is obvious that we can sometimes hold some ideas as true, that aren’t true at all. And this limits us because if we belief so, we will “do so”. So if we believe that “money is bad” or “the root of all evil”, you see how this can affect how you deal with money? You will push it away because often unconsciously, you are thinking “money is bad” – and how do you react towards something that is bad? You will fear it and stay away from it. And if you fear it, this will cause anxiety in you, and in trading, you won’t be able to make good and rational decisions due to the fight-or-flight reactions in your body.

    We often hold various “limiting beliefs” that limit us in trading that we have to “think” them unconsciously because there’s just too many for us to “think” them consciously all at once, we can only “think” about or focus on one thing at a time. But what you usually do feel is the reactions from these beliefs – as anxiety, sadness, anger, etc., depending on how the limiting belief makes you feel. Often, all those emotions at once, due to all the beliefs that you have – making it impossible for you to trade profitably, due to the lack of focus necessary to make good decisions.

    But, “fear not”! Because there is hope, you *can* change your beliefs, making it possible for you to be a profitable trader. Because anyone can “shoot hoops”, and anyone can trade professional (all it takes is practice and experience). But to be on of the top traders or basketball players, you have to believe that you can (and not have beliefs that stop you from doing this.)

    Alright, this is getting long, and I feel I have made a point here :). In another post, I will explain how to detect your limiting beliefs and show you a technique that will make it easier for you to change them. Stay tuned!

    By the way, I have spent a full year studying this, in lack of better terms, in a hardcore way – everyday almost all day – I have explored things such as quantum physics, “new thought” principles, “Law of Attraction” theories, Cognitive Behavioral therapies, Rational Emotional Behavioral therapies, Neuro-Linguistic Programming – basically anything psychology! And I’ve learned a lot, and I’m willing to make it easier for you to master your psychology and turn it into something more conducive to you and share with you all that I have learned – to save you the time and trouble (it was hard!) I had to go through to learn this. Hopefully you will learn something from it, and use it to make your life a little better :)

    • Thank you for the excellent and insightful comment! much appreciated… this is the kind of dialogue we want to get started in the trading community. When traders are helping traders like this, we all move to higher levels of performance. What you have highlighted here are extremely important concepts, and they will have a huge impact on any trader’s success in trading and life in general. Thanks again, and we look forward to future comments from you.

      • EasySkanking

        Thanks Ziad :)

  • EasySkanking

    So how do you change your beliefs more easily? Your beliefs are held in the subconscious, and are hard to change with the conscious mind. This is because the conscious mind doesn’t understand reason/rationalization. It doesn’t understand that 2+2 = 4, it understands that 2+2= 5, if it is made to believe and feel that. And although your conscious mind might be saying 2+2 = 4, your subconscious mind will be giving you signals (if you believe that) that it is not true, that the answer is 5 and will make you feel uncomfortable / fearful until you start thinking consciously that 2+2= 5. Why does the subconscious so blatantly belief that 2+2= 5, when the obvious answer is that 2+2 = 4? Because the subconscious is programmed by emotional stimuli not by rational stimuli – so it can be made to believe almost anything, as long as it is emotional.

    So why does the mind work this way? Basically to save us the trouble that it would take to make opinions on everything we encounter that requires our attention. It says “Okay, this is how you feel about this, this is how you will feel about it from now on.” That way, next time when you encounter the same thing, you will automatically know how to feel about that, without having to rationalize and examine that thing again.

    The sad thing is, that the subconscious mind can be programmed by almost anything emotional, making it difficult for you to rationalize and choose to believe otherwise. It is programmed by emotional events that cause you to feel a certain way about things. Whether you choose to decide how those events turn out or not.

    For example, if you are watching the news and you watch a dramatic forecast/opinion about the market that tells you that the market is doomed, and you get scared – you might form the beliefs that “the market is dangerous”, “the market is too difficult for me”, “no one ever wins from the market”, “the market is only for professionals.” But none of these beliefs are true, yet if you believe them, they will stop you from being successful in the market, or even attempting to start at all. And if you do decide to trade later on (even if you have forgotten about the news completely) those beliefs are still programmed in your subconscious mind, and although you might not process them consciously, you will definitely (at the very least) process them subconsciously, meaning that you will feel the emotions that those beliefs make you feel.

    So how do we change them? Enough explanations about what beliefs are and how they work – let’s get to the good stuff :).

    You can change them of course by changing your mind about them – but this will still leave behind a little bit of your beliefs even though you have changed your opinion on them – because you have an emotional affinity towards them – they have meaning to you – maybe it is something your parents believed, or maybe it is something that you feel would create danger for your if you would let it go – so it’s difficult, often, to change beliefs because of this. Because they have made a strong and *emotional* impression on you.

    What can you do to make it easier to change your beliefs? You change the emotional affinity in these beliefs, making it easier for you to change your beliefs, permanently. How do you change the emotions in the beliefs? Well, there are several ways, but the easiest and most powerful way I have found through all my research and experimentation is, Emotional Freedom Technique – it is basically a form of acupuncture. It works through your nervous system – stimulating certain parts of it interrupting the flow of your emotions through your nervous system, forcing them to relax and basically neutralize them. The way acupuncture works is the same except by using needles instead to stimulate these parts called meridians.

    The way Emotional Freedom Technique works, is the same way, by stimulating the meridians. But instead of using needles, you tap on the meridians. This technique is strange, I have to admit, but its powers are well worth its eccentricity. I feel I have explained enough, and would like you to experience the technique yourself instead and make your own opinions :) In order to experience the power of this technique, you need a painful event from the past, some privacy because this technique is very weird, and an open mind to find out if it is effective at all or not.

    To get started, have something to write on and something to write with:

    Find an event from the past that if you could, you would like to do-over… preferably something that is bugging you now. The loss of a pet, the time your girlfriend left you, or any other emotional event you may have experienced.

    Give that event a name- short and somewhat relevant to what occurred – such as, “when my pet died”. And if you were to rate it, how strong of an emotion would it be? Just how uncomfortable does it feel to you? Rate it on a scale from 1 to 10. With 10 being almost unbearable. You don’t have to be accurate – just guess. This is all giving your subconscious mind a hint that you are accessing a certain event and how it made you feel. Write the name of the emotion/event and the rating.

    Example: “when my pet died” 8/10

    Now go through the below instructions given in this page:
    If you need a video depiction of the technique, look at this video: (but don’t get into his procedure, it is very general and limited – just see how the technique is done.) I recommend you read the page first – it is much more thorough and explanatory.

    Did you watch the video? Read the page? Now, for my own explanation:

    So, for example, you would go through the process of the technique starting by saying out-loud (or just to yourself in your head, whichever you prefer):

    “Even though I have this “when my pet died”, (this tells your subconscious which emotion you are referring to), I deeply and completely accept myself”, while tapping on your “karate chop” meridian point. You do it three times.

    Then, you start tapping on the inside of your forehead while saying “when my pet died”. It is important to focus on the emotion while you are doing this – more so than the tapping. Don’t worry about doing the tapping correctly, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Focus on the emotion. Then you go on the side of your eye and do the same. And you continue onto the other meridian points.

    You do two rounds of this (only using the set-up phrase once as the page instructs, ie. “Even though…”). Then you asses how strong the emotion is again (if it is stronger than “3”, then do another round(s) until it is a “3” or lower). Once it is a 3, then you change your “set-up phrase” to “Even though I *still* have some of this “when my pet died”, I deeply and completely accept myself”. Then you continue onto tapping on the inside of your forehead and other meridian points with the phrase “*remaining* ‘when my pet died’”. You do as many rounds needed until the emotion has come down to a 0.

    For most events, it’ll take about 4 rounds to get rid of the emotions completely. For really strong emotional events, it’ll take more.

    Good luck and enjoy the benefits that this technique can give you :). It’ll change you. Personally, I have changed at least 8 times in a 3 month period… becoming a “new” person each of those times. It’s amazing. Try it!

    The reason this technique is so powerful and changes you so much, is because it destroys the emotions attached to all beliefs that are formed during traumatic experiences (where extreme beliefs are formed due to the catastrophic nature of the incident), causing you to stop believing that way and be free to think as you want about it. For example, you might believe that “women don’t like me”, “women are horrible”, “I’m bad with women”, etc. if your girlfriend dumps you for no explicable reason… but when you neutralize your emotions from this event, you are “okay” with it, so it no longer matters to you – so nothing is meaningful to you about it. You no longer have beliefs/opinions/ideas about it. You just “let it go”, so to speak ;)

    Following up on this, I will guide you through how to find limiting beliefs about trading and money and how to use this technique to change them easily/more quickly. Sorry that this post is so long, it takes a while to explain this, but I have tried my best to keep it as short as possible. But, it is still difficult to explain this well in a short comment… I could write a whole book about it… :)

    I have so many other techniques, insights, and experiences to share – I hope I can share them here and not just have keep them to myself and not be able to benefit other people in such an impacting, powerful, and revolutionary way :).

    • Wow what an awesome comment! Thanks for the insights. I’ve heard of the Emotional Freedom Technique but had never looked into what it was all really all about. I’ve heard that many people’s lives have been completely transformed by it. Please email me your next ‘comment’ and we’ll use it as a guest post instead. It’s too good just to be left in the comments section!

      • EasySkanking

        Wow, no way? Really? I would love to email you my next comment so you can use it as a guest post :)… will do!

    • Alexander


      I wondered if you wrote about beliefs in trading and money that you promised at the end of this post?

      Thanks in advance.

  • naveen

    Thank you Ziad for another excellent article. I have a daily routine to instill positive thoughts in my mind. Everyday, I observe the negative thoughts which are all coming in my mind. In the evening, I take a notepad and write the solutions for those thoughts.

    • That’s great Naveen. Routines build habits, and habits become automatic thought patterns. That’s a great way to do it.

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  • Jennifer Philips

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  • janett

    Flexibility -Hold no attachment to trades-Endeavour to have no emotional attachment to an idea. When a trade is wrong he will just cut it, move on and do something else.

    Change opinions on a dime-When people ask me for my opinion about the markets I always tell them, “what I think the market should do today may not be the same view I hold tomorrow.” As traders, it’s not our job to be right; it’s our job to make money.

    Focus on the here and now-Quick decisive decision making is crucial. We base our decisions on the information in front of us at the time of the trade.

    You have to stop trying to will things to happen in order to prove that you’re right. Listen only to what the market is telling you NOW. Forget what you thought it was telling you five minutes ago. Remember the objective is not to prove you’re right, but to hear the cash register ring.

    Intuition is gained from experience-Whether you consider yourself a discretionary trader or mechanical trader there’s a level of intuition and feel that develops from observations and experience.

    In addition to live trading and reviewing charts, the quickest way I’ve found for developing a sound trading intuition is to keep a log of market behavior.

    Write down what is happening in the market. Then write down what you think will or should happen as a result. Once the outcome is revealed, compare your initial hypothesis. This is a great way to build a solid macro understanding and strong intuition.

    The Importance of Implementation -Right strategy for the idea-With so many markets and instruments out there to trade there are many ways to express your ideas. It begins with an observation or hypothesis. Sometimes buying the underlying is the best trade. Other times, a derivative or currency makes for a better play.

    When looking to express an idea in the markets, seek out the trade with the least risk, greatest reward potential.

  • Francis Vaclav Helebrant

    Dear Ziad, thank you for the very helpful articles about reprogramming your mind.
    I believe :) that limiting and empowering beliefs are playing a huge role in success in anything in our lives and I would like to recommend two more techniques, not being posted here to help to change your beliefs to achieve your desired goal. First one is a modification of EFT, called fastEFT and the second one is PSTEC – Belief Blasters and PSTEC Quantum turbo. PSTEC is a highly effective technique to reprogram your mind and you can read on many amazing life stories. There are at least 3 highly skilled moderators who are answering any questions including regarding trading. Many green pips to everyone. :)

  • TTL

    Love that you mention gratitude Ziad! So few traders are happy to talk about this subject. Mindset work is often portrayed as the most difficult in trading but it is also the most rewarding as it spills into the rest of our lives.

    Thanks for a great post, I’ve shared it on my Twitter feed :-)

    Here’s a shorter post on using a mantra for improving our trading mindset:

    I’m trying to get into the habit of starting the day with a positive mantra, as well as before opening my charts…

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