THE SCORPION AND THE FROG
Janice Dorn, M.D., Ph.D.
A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the
scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The
frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion
says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”
The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream,
the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of
paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown,
but has just enough time to gasp “Why?”
Replies the scorpion: “It’s my nature…” Aesop’s Fables
No matter who you are, how intelligent or how much education you have, if you keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results, you are suffering from the most insidious form of insanity. This is self-delusion of the highest degree. Years ago, when I first started to trade, I was so optimistic that I could make money consistently. I was smart, educated, a successful physician, and always had been able to study hard and master anything I put my mind to. I could do it and nothing was going to stop me. I would work longer and more intensely than anyone else, and show wonderful profits month after month.
Little did I know what I was facing, and that I was about to come head on with the most challenging task of my lifetime. Simple—maybe–but not easy. Not easy at all. After a few months, I found myself dancing as fast as I could; yet running on a treadmill going nowhere and suffering from vertigo, headache and a severe case of tick-itis. I studied and read everything I could lay my hands on, subscribed to service after service looking for the Holy Grail and struggling to make consistently successful trades. Why couldn’t I do it? What was wrong?
Is this so difficult? What about all the people who have returns of greater than 80% a years? They couldn’t be exaggerating, could they? After all, it’s in print and on a heavily subscribed website, so it must be true. Mustn’t it? So I studied more, subscribed to more services, learned new indicators, bought books, joined some chat rooms and saturated myself with information. This produced more vertigo, headache and sleep deprivation. I was on total information overload. I started sleeping sitting up so that I would not sleep too deeply and could awaken more easily at 4:30AM (having gone to sleep at around 1:30 AM) in order to study and watch the markets before they opened at 6:30 AM.
I was in total immersion, so why couldn’t I make consistently successful trades? I became paranoid, thinking it was a kind of conspiracy since every time I took a position it went against me. I knew the stop and was stopped out in my minds, but we didn’t take the stops because I had faith that the position would come back. It was some kind of a misunderstanding or misinterpretation by the market that was responsible for the price spiraling downward.
Buy more. That’s it. Average down and keep averaging down and eventually, I will get it right. Eventually, the price will come back up and I will be justified. Why isn’t the price coming back? I know it has to. After all, I studied it, charted it, listened to the gurus, read everything on every bulletin board, and it absolutely HAS to come back. Oh, that news that just came out…. Ugh! Must be false or overstated because there is no reason that the stock should be selling off like that.
I know it is coming back, so I will buy more. Wow!! Look at the size of the position now. Hmmmm. I better kick it up a notch and start participating in every message board and study every report and watch every tick every day for signs that life is returning and I can get back from underwater. Most of you know how this feels. I do. I have been there, lived it, and suffered losses from it. Life was miserable this way. I became depressed and irritable. I walled myself off from the rest of the world just trying to figure out what to do. I had dug a really deep hole and the only way out was to sell and take the losses. OR- wait and be in agony day after day, watching my account and my self-esteem (what was left of it) erode like shifting sands.
I tried too hard, studied too much, and pushed myself to the point of both physical and mental exhaustion. Why? Why did I not honor the stop, continue to hold on and even average down? I had to figuratively kill the frog and kill myself in the process. In order to be reborn, I had to destroy the internal self-defeating programming and start all over again. I had to step back, look at what I had done with a sharp and penetrating glare in the bright light of day. I decided to take the loss, to stop trading for a while, to take a vacation and center myself. My health returned. The dizziness and headache went away. I didn’t care so much about watching the flickering ticks (so, at least, I was in remission from a severe case of tick-itis).
It was not the market, the charts, the software, the gurus or anyone/anything else. It was me! I was my worst enemy. Nothing was going to change until I got right with myself.
The most exquisite paradox is that as soon as you give it all up, you can have it all.
As long as you want power, you can’t have it. The minute you don’t want power, you’ll have more than you ever dreamed possible… Ram Dass
Janice Dorn, M.D., Ph.D.
Text Copyright: Janice Dorn, M.D., Ph.D., 2012 All rights reserved
Illustration Copyright: http://tinyurl.com/cvwgl5c