Performance Anxiety In Trading

Performance anxiety starts with your belief… Where do you stand presently in—trading?

[Male narrator or maybe that’s just Judith messing with me]

In previous years, I have witnessed people having mind attacks—because they tell themselves convincing stories of how they can’t achieve stuff.

You’re probably wondering what these mind attacks are?

Well, mind attacks as the name implies is—when your mind overcomes your consciousness. Monte sahaja referred to it as, “an opportunity to check in yourself”. The ideal question here is, who is attacking your mind?

I want to believe that—the mind is actually the most convincing liar that ever existed. Well, a topic for another day!

There’s a lot to talk about and I wouldn’t want to complicate things. So, mind attacks leads to anxiety, which leads to doubt and we gradually build the P.A. 

My early days of high school, I would seat at talk-shows—then go home to talk to mirrors and shadows. But, when invited to speak, I freeze. “There’s a problem”, I thought. What could it be?

Jane will say, “you can do it”… But, I know it’s easier said than done. After-all, more is said—than done, sometimes. 

A boy from the audience, can’t really remember his name shouted, “Anx-boy”. The others would laugh. 

“What is anx-boy?”, I asked. 

“It’s a boy who suffered from anxiety”, Jane muttered. 

What, I don’t have anxiety or do you think I do?… I mean—it’s because I’m new right?… [Judith (Jamal’s alter-ego) sighs] Funny how you convinced yourself into believing that lie. Pfft, rubbish!

“Shut up Judith!”, Jamal mouthed. Agh… I hate her she doesn’t just know when to shut-up. Everyone just thought I was weird but, you need to meet Judith she’s annoying.

Only Jane understood. The rest, well, I was this mad guy that speaks to himself or better yet—anx-boy.

Performance Anxiety And It’s Meaning

Each time I try to do something, I become anxious and I mull over different possibilities. Judith left me a funny note one day. It read, “Hey, nut job—what’s faster than light?”. Heh! she’s rude.

Anyway, I pondered as to why she asked that but, couldn’t figure it out.

[Bus honks, birds squawking]

Every time I see this yellow and green vehicle—I let out a huge sigh, yet another day of bullies. Anyway, I had an assignment from Judith. The sun pale; the wind on my face feels like burger and cheese—maybe I was just craving it. “We’re here!”, Jane brings me back to reality. 

“I’ll meet you in chemistry”, I told Jane—as I hurriedly left for the library. The mid-day high’s library was the biggest in England—You could get lost in books over there. Haha! I love playing with words. 

Strolling down mid-day’s library, I picked up every book I could find on—“what’s faster than light?”. “This girl (Judith) must be joking asking me that”… “Maybe she wanted me to figure something out”, I gasped.

All books I read, said—nothing was faster than light; that’s the speed of the universe. [Jamal exhales deeply] She must have lost her damn mind. Moving away from the library, I stumbled over a book with an interesting title, “Our thoughts and mind are faster”. Hmm… Okay this looks interesting.

Hovering over the lines for 2 hours, I figured out Judith’s riddle. “It’s my mind”… I remembered “anx-boy” then, it occurred to me that Judith was only trying to help. “Thanks Judy”, I smiled. 

Pulled out my backpack, took my pen and wrote, “New mission, what is anxiety and why do I have it before a task”. 

Terrible memories in England’s mid-day and the only thing that didn’t suck were—the school’s WIFIs. Yep! those bronskies were really fast. Pulled out a computer-chair, started my research.

What Is Performance Anxiety?

Well, I had no idea what anxiety meant, I started my research with the little computers we’ve got. The dictionary definition of “anxiety” is—worrying excessively about an uncertain outcome. Heh, made it easier for myself. It made sense now why I was called that. I just worried so much about futuristic plans and my perfectionist self—just couldn’t stand it going wrong. 

So, that means there are different kind of anxieties. I randomly just typed, “What is the anxiety you get when you want to do something? And… Performance anxiety popped up.

Woah, just realized not all anxieties are from doing stuff. [Clears throat] What then is performance anxiety? 

[Female computer narrator]

It’s the fear someone experiences before or during a specific type of performance. When someone has performance anxiety, they fear that the performance will be a failure even if they are well prepared.

Usually—occurs when fear of outcome, interferes with the process of doing.

It’s Meaning…

If we can train ourselves to not overreact to negative outcomes, then we won’t have to deal with P.As. It occurs when we become so worried or concerned about the outcomes of our performance that our nervousness interferes with the performance itself.

“Damn you PA!” I can’t believe you’ve ruined my life. Uhm—What else do they have on this anxiety? 

[Female computer narrator continues]

Classic examples include “freezing up” when giving a public speech.

Under conditions of performance anxiety, people will make decisions to manage their emotional states—rather than to properly manage their reality. Very often, these guys will have good ideas but will never participate due to—fear of failure. “Well, that’s true”.

You know, anxieties are just stories we tell our minds… It’s one of the paradoxes of performance; we are ready to win when we are no longer threatened by our failures. 

[Jamal interrupts] For real? I mean that’s true though cos’ I be imagining different possibilities of failure. Then, I come up with the conclusion that maybe that’s what I am. “Anx-boy the failure!”

Why Traders Suffer From PA?

Sorry! I zoned out a little. The story I was telling, is actually going to be told in my book (coming soon). Back to the actual first sentence—Where do you stand presently in—trading? 

Traders who suffer from PAs, are mostly seen as perfectionist or fear holders. What kind of fear am I speaking of?—It’s our very own, “atychiphobia”. But, you’re probably wondering why—I’ll help you.

When you trade to not lose, instead of win, you find yourself in the bubble of performance anxiety. You start avoiding future performances—because you believe failure will/might result in humiliation or rejection. 

I keep coming for the media traders!

People of this generation, actually love the idea of social gratification—that they believe anyone who post cars and money. Why? I mean who doesn’t like the goodies of life… It’s just that most times, these goodies aren’t really what you need as a beginner.

Yeah-yeah, we all love a good motivation but—we get in the game (trading) without realizing that—it’s not as easy as it looks. The simple reason traders suffer from PA is—they avoid losses so much that, it actually takes their willpower of actually making trade orders.

The other day, I was at a seminar and this guy said, “the only skill a trader needs to be successful is—to know how to click you mouse”. If you think about it—it’s true. Anyone can tap a buy or sell and be in profit. In one of my podcast episodes, I spoke about the difference between being a trader and being profitable. 

So, to me—PAs are just signs of ego and the fear of rejection.

The One That Fears Rejection

[Jamal’s journal]

Day 53 of personality exploration…

What if I fail, don’t get it right or they don’t like me?—That was all I was thinking about. I mean, no friends, bullied, just plain rejection or at least, that’s what I “thought”. 

You know—mama would say, “Humans are like shells, we seek to protect our interior from any potential harm” Heh, or is it crabs? She definitely used an animal. It’s funny how most times—fear can only be an “illusion” that we created by “ourselves” using our own minds. 

It may be due to loss, trauma or just experience itself. Most people don’t realize how powerful they are—because they’ve lived their life in a bubble, they created. You know what I think, Fear is only an illusion. A dream only comes true if you believe it. Have you ever imagined the life you want and I don’t mean the, “Oh! I want to succeed” kind of imagination. I mean in details!

The moment I realized how much I can do with my mind, that’s when I started journaling every single move, decision, and step I made.

Every failure and successes in our life, started with a single thought. Now a thought is just a noun but—it becomes a verb when you believe it. 

Similarly, performance anxieties are created from just a single thought of, “What if”… Here’s a riddle I created for you: When is a thought not a thought? Answering that alone, would make you as powerful as, God himself. I mean—we’re made from his own image right? You only take the image of a god—when you realize just how powerful you are. 

Trader Lydia’s Story

A friend once said, “Thoughts have no power till they have your attention”. The fear of rejection tends to affect our ability to succeed in personal and professional areas of our lives.

Sylvia, my mom, told me of a trader who was so lonely that—she sought after validation from others. Ergo, she chose perfection over progression. Never wanted to be seen as weak in front of other traders, never acknowledged her losses—in-fact, she was embarrassed by them. How else was she going to be accepted—by the rest of the traders, in a pack?

Lydia was scared of rejection!

This affected her performance as a trader. She was never able to trade properly as she now developed performance anxiety (PAs). Funny, she had an edge, the right knowledge of the markets but, she just couldn’t pull the trigger. Many will say, “she’s a coward” but—I just think Lydia needed acceptance. You see, once you learn to accept certain truths—life won’t have to be difficult; trading won’t have to be difficult. 

Traders have grown to believe you need a team to succeed—I just want to let you know that, “There’s no T-E-A-M in Trading, There’s an I.”

Her story changed when she realized, she only had herself to impress. 

The One With Ego

[Jamal continues to pen]

Day 54 of personality exploration…

Every morning I wake up I tell myself, it’s okay to be proud of yourself but, mom would say, “too much of everything is bad”. Heh, everyone has an ego. I just think ego means knowing yourself well enough to know what you’re worth. It’s knowing that your unique and can stand up for yourself. 

There’s something funny about the ego though—egos live in the past and the future, they don’t believe in acceptance as well, attachments come easily to them. 

It’s 9:00 am and all I’m thinking about is my pitch. I remember what happened when I was 15—there was panic, people laughed, most wooed. I wonder if it will happen again?

Did you notice what I did there? That was my ego speaking. Ego thought of the past and the future in just a single sentence. That’s what happens when we do too much of everything. Mom would say, “On the highest throne in the world, we still sit only on our own bottom”.

Having PAs that day was because—my ego is sometimes the bad guy. When you live in the past and future you give  “ego” a power to ruin your entire life.

Before I close off, Maxime said I should let you know that you should, “Destroy your illusions so you can see reality. Destroy your fears so you can take risks. Destroy your ego so you can see life”.

So, where do you presently stand in—Trading?…

[Indistinct voices]

‘Wake up Jam’, Jane screamed… it’s your turn to give your pitch.


All my articles are entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of lazyluchi’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities are entirely coincidental. 

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