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The 4 Sources of Self-Sabotage That Kill Trading Accounts

The #1 problem facing many traders is not what they think, and it is also largely misunderstood.

The problem is not the markets, a lack of capital or opportunity, or a lack of discipline on your part.

It is self-sabotage and it occurs for primarily one reason.

Your subconscious, which is another part of you, just at a more knowing and more direct level, is looking out for you and trying to make things right.

What many traders view as a normal circumstance, emotions flaring up, mistakes being made and the endless battle with discipline is really self-sabotage taking place.

When everything is proper and as it should be, the natural condition is calm, confidence and a sense of security. Those feelings of doubt, anxiety, insecurity and sometimes fear are signs that something is amiss.

The error is thinking that emotional trading is how things are supposed to be, and the fallacy is the notion that good trading only comes from having the will or discipline to override your emotions.

Your emotions are simply your subconscious telling you that something is not right and you need to address it.

So if this is true, then where does this come from? What are the reasons your subconscious would sabotage you?


Personal, non-trading related issues are things that have to do with you as a person and are not directly related to trading, like your self-image, deservingness of success, beliefs about money, the notions about money that you heard about from your parents and teachers when growing up, etc.

While most traders are led to believe that this is the area on which to focus, my experience is that any issues here are minor enough that they are not the real obstacle holding you back. If you were not sufficiently okay with money, success or discipline, you would not be in a position to trade. Just the fact that you are here is proof that you have what it takes.


Trading-related matters include those experiences that you have had as a trader that haunt you and cause you to hesitate, overtrade, etc. and are directly related to your trading history. Those regrettable mistakes you have made in the past, and whose memory is triggered by certain cues in your current trading.

Skills & abilities

Regarding skills and abilities, when a person jumps into a new occupation (like trading) and they are NOT prepared for the job, it WILL be stressful, emotional and full of challenges. Unfortunately for most people, they are led to believe when first starting out, that all you need to be a long term trader is to learn is how to follow a system. As a result, the many aspects of this being a profession and self-employed business are completely neglected.

Since many traders do not have any similar experience to which they can refer, they do not even know what they do not know. This is particularly true regarding organizing, planning, and starting up a business venture. Many traders have never done this prior to trading, and are lacking that entire knowledge base.

The incomplete and inadequate training most people receive at the beginning of their trading careers has gaps the usually take years to fill, if they ever get filled.

Your subconscious knows this and this is often a major reason it sabotages you, because it knows that you do not yet deserve the rewards of a reliable business, you have not become that entrepreneur and business-minded person if your sole focus is just “to make some money”.

Tools & resources

Good tools and resources are absolutely necessary in any performance activity. Without good tools, results suffer, like if you tried to play golf with bent clubs or tennis with a broken racquet.

Right along with good tools, you need the skills, processes and know-how to ensure that your trading systems and operation are solid and such that you can rely on them to perform and meet your goals and expectations, now and moving forward.

Many traders also are never taught how to evaluate trading methods or systems, to know if there are functional issues which will create problems when implemented.

These gaps in competency are the main reason why some traders go 5, 8, 10, or more years struggling with the same issues, the same continued frustration and disappointments. They often work with a system that has flaws or weaknesses, thinking it is solid, and believe that the problem is their inability to stick to the system, when in reality, the problem is the system itself.

They mistakenly think that they know all there is to know about being a trader, and thus never consider attending to these issues.

The good news is that regardless of how long you have been trading, when you attend to these gaps, you will be doing things differently, it becomes easier to let go and change the patterns of the past.

Like most traders, I expect that you are above average and have what it takes to make it as a trader. You simply need to fill in the gaps from your training. Once you do, your results will improve and the whole matter will become much easier – and your subconscious will no longer have reason to sabotage you.

by Brian McAboy

Article by Brian McAboy of, where you can learn more about Emotional Intelligence for Traders, how to truly treat your trading as a business, and the Trading System “X-Factor”.

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