Repeated Mistakes Have a Subconscious Element in Stock Trading

By Andrew Menaker, PhD, trading psychologist

As a trading psychologist, one of the most common things I hear from traders is the long-term frustration that comes with making the same mistakes over and over.

And in case you haven’t already realized this, it’s not likely that telling or promising yourself puts an end to it; even a large post-it note next to your computer seems to have no effect. Why?

Humans are complex creatures, and much of what occurs inside us is outside our immediate awareness. For example, although you’re aware of what you believe about yourself, there are significant aspects that are subconscious, outside your awareness.


One example of a subconscious belief is a fear of success. Sounds crazy, but if you’ve tried to use affirmations, tapping, NLP, or another technique that supposedly ‘re-programs’ you and it didn’t work, read on.

Accessing what was previously subconscious, becoming aware of what you were previously unaware of and coming to a new understanding of it, is one of the most powerful change processes of all.

I’ll never forget my client, James. He gained valuable insight about the dynamics behind his need for perfectionism (his analysis paralysis largely prevented him from putting trades on) – he had a subconscious need to be approved of and be seen as right by his very successful father (who was not even alive anymore).

After coming to an understanding of this previously subconscious belief about needing approval and needing to be seen as right and how it played out in his desire to do ‘more market analysis’, James was finally able to follow his trading plan and began to reap the benefits he hoped for.

In addition to beliefs, emotions also have a very significant subconscious aspect. There is ample empirical research showing the biological footprint of emotion is present long before a human has the mental awareness of experiencing emotion. And the ability to manage one’s emotions when facing uncertainty is absolutely necessary to succeed as a trader.

Think for a moment, what could you achieve if you were able to overcome your repeated mistakes?

Andrew Menaker, PhD is a trading psychologist, you can read more about him at