Most forms of psychotherapy assume we have a multitude of internal parts operating on a subconscious level. For example, Freud’s theory of personality assumed that we each have an Id, Ego, and Super ego—parts that certainly could be in conflict. Transactional Analysis assumes we have a parent, child and adult. I could go on listing theories all the way to Psychosynthesis, which assumes that we are all composed of thousands of parts and the primary job of therapy is to get the parts to work together as a unit.
Who knows whether or not people are made up of parts? I certainly don’t! But at the same time it appears to be a useful fiction to assume
that we are. For example you might have a trader part, a parent part, a fun-loving part, etc.
It is useful to assume we have some parts and that core behavioral problems often come from conflicting parts or from parts acting on their own without understanding the whole picture. Each part has a positive intention for you or you would not have created it in the first place, even parts that now cause negative side-effects (such as trading for excitement and not following your system). As a result, you can use some standard negotiation techniques to get the parts to work together. Those techniques are detailed in the third volume of the Peak Performance Home Study
Course, and are much too involved to cover in the scope of this newsletter. However, I would like to provide you with this introductory information about
what your parts may be, their positive intentions, and how you can get to know
them better. In particular, I want to explore the intentions of parts that might seem to function to lower your self-esteem by producing fear, anger, depression, or feelings of worthlessness.
In our Peak Performance 101 workshop, we expand on this work by incorporating exercises on an experiential level. And again this work can only be practiced in an interactive environment, such as a workshop, where student and teacher work on individual situations. But
you can do the first step in the process, which is the first step our
workshop students take. We ask people to do an exercise to determine
what parts are in their heads. The exercise is called a “Parts Party.” I recommend you do it about half an hour before you go to sleep, while you are in bed.
First, since everyone reading this is a trader or wants to be a trader, assume you have a trading part. Bring up that trading part and ask him/her/it the following questions:
1. What are you trying to do for me? What’s your positive intention for me?
2. Who are you in conflict with? What other parts give you the most trouble in your trading?
3. How does this part represent itself? If it is an image, what does it look like and how would someone else recognize it if it walked into the room? If it is a voice, whose voice is it? If it is a feeling, then describe the feeling. How heavy is it? How big is it? And so on.
Ask all your parts to come and let them know you are just giving them a chance to show up and play. But whenever you become aware of a new part, ask it the same questions.
The next morning, after everyone has done the exercise, we ask each participant about their parts. Often the discussion helps others
discover additional parts that might not have shown up at the party. Here are some typical responses:
• “I had five parts show up. The trader, whose primary purpose is to make me the best possible trader I can be, and the banker, who is very conservative and in charge of risk management. The little boy, whose intention is to have fun and enjoy life. My family part, whose intention is to love and care for my family and give them lots of time; and my mother. I don’t know what my mother’s intention is, but she is always telling me what can go wrong and making me worry. I know it’s her because it is her voice I hear. The trader, at times, can be in conflict with all of the other parts.”
• “Well, I seem to have four trading-related parts. At least, that is all that showed up last night. One part, the trader whose job is to trade. The second part is the broker part of me whose job is to execute customer orders. However, he’s always giving the trader advice based on what I hear from my customers and that’s usually not productive. I also have a gambler part who really likes the action of playing the market. He is counterproductive. Then I have a part of me that is angry all the time—especially at the gambler part of losing so much money. He tends to disrupt my personal life as well.”
• “I have a skydiver part and a banker part. Neither of them gets along at all. The banker part is very business-like. It makes money by taking low-risk ideas. It manages money well. On the other hand, the skydiver part just loves fun. It loves the excitement. But what it does is very dangerous. It could kill me—both physically and financially.”
• “What I discovered is that I have thousands of parts. I have five advanced degrees and there are parts responsible for each. I’m involved in three different jobs and there are parts involved in each of those. A different part represents each family member—for example, there is not just a father part, but I have a part of me to look after each child. I could go on. And there are new parts being formed each time I want to learn something new. The problem I have is that none of these parts have enough time.”
Spend some time thinking about your parts.
It’s ok if you don’t completely grasp this concept. As I mentioned this is core material from both the
Peak Performance Home Study Course and
a very interactive exercise in the workshop. If you just start thinking about this concept and what your many parts may be, I believe it will be a very a positive and useful exercise in self understanding and moving closer to peak performance whether in trading or other aspects of your daily life.
In Part Two we'll look at how to deal with conflicting parts.
from the Peak Performance Home Study Course.
Van Tharp: Trading coach, and author, Dr. Van K. Tharp is widely
recognized for his best-selling book Trade Your Way to Financial
Freedom and his outstanding Peak Performance Home Study program
- a highly regarded classic that is suitable for all levels of
traders and investors. You can learn more about Van Tharp at www.iitm.com.