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Losses are part of this business. People do not react well to losses. Badly handled losses in trading can trigger bigger losses. Furthermore, these have the dangerous potential of wiping out entire accounts. If you want to make it as a trader you need to have a solid psychological approach to accept and handle losses.
Lots of internet articles are suggesting that the way to prevent debilitating losses in trading is to follow risk management rules. What are those rules about? Basically, they are simple thresholds indicating the maximum $ /percentage you should risk per trade, day, month etc. Having such rules is a must but it’s not enough. You can still lose much if your mind is not actually prepared to implement them. That’s why many traders set rules only to break them in the most inappropriate moments.
People do not follow their own risk management rules because they are not psychologically prepared to accept losses. They are not prepared for the pain caused by a loss or a series of losses.
The single most efficient way to handle losses is to accept them consciously and unconsciously. One of the most dangerous ways to react to losses is “revenge” or “on tilt” trading. This happens when the pain caused by a loss is so high that the trader looses his / her rationality and only wants his / her money back, disregarding most of the things he / she actually knows about the market. The brain cannot accept the emotional discomfort and the fastest solution is to quickly find a trade to make the money back. Most of the time, the quickest trade is in the same instrument (FX pair, stock etc) that generated the initial loss, by averaging down/up or flipping. Some of the most experienced traders can work their way out but the vast majority will only make things worse.
In order to prevent this kind of psychological slippage you need to prepare your mind to consciously and unconsciously accept losses BEFORE they occur. With the help of a psychotherapist or by yourself you can perform visual exercises where you will imagine yourself being in a losing position and reacting the right way. This would desensitize yourself, if done right.
The technique I always use each time I open a position is to do that desensitization process “on the fly”. I watch the market and I see an opportunity. BEFORE opening the position, I imagine myself in the posture of facing that trade ending in a loss. After that, I imagine that trade going the way I want. I might even go back and forth (in my mind) a few times between losing and winning. This way, I prepare my unconscious mind. If I cannot imagine myself easily handling the loss (or the win) I will simply reduce size.
Pay attention though, I am not recommending here to imagine yourself constantly losing because this would do more harm than good. This would be a separate topic about the power of visualization exercises.