This month marks my twenty-first year of therapy.
Spoiler Alert: I’m still fucked up.
To be perfectly honest, 1999 wasn’t my first time on the couch. I’d gone once before, sometime in the late 80s, when my then girlfriend suggested we attend couples therapy.
Spoiler Alert: I didn’t marry her.
No amount of therapy would have saved that relationship, particularly given the fact that we both went into the process with the wrong attitude.
As soon as the door closed we began battling each other to convince the therapist that she should be on “our side” - an ally in our pre-planned strategy to indict the other’s bad behavior.
By the second session, it was clear to her that there was enough dysfunctionality in our relationship to bankroll two of her three kid’s college tuition, so she suggested we come in three times a week.
I suggested a college savings account and hit the eject button on both the therapy and the relationship.
When I next entered a psychologist’s office it too was for couples’ therapy, but this time with a legally bound partner – also known as a wife – and with much higher stakes on the table.
But even then I didn’t really “get it.”
Like a struggling alcoholic, I fell on and off the therapy wagon over the next 10 years, sometimes attending as a couple, sometimes solo, but always with the wrong mindset.
Not that there wasn’t progress.
The “big” breakthrough came in my early 40s when it was first suggested that I might have ADHD – something laughingly obvious to me now, but which had never occurred to me back then.
However, it wasn’t until about five years ago when I finally figured out the key to therapy – ownership.
The minute you go into a session blaming “the other” – spouse, parents, boss, global warming, whatever – as the source of your problems, you’ve already lost.
Radical ownership, as cliché’ as it sounds, is the only way to approach therapy and it’s my number one recommendation to anybody struggling in life – or the markets.
I tell struggling traders all the time, “Go to therapy.”
Trading is all about the mental game, so what better way to get things sorted out than on the couch?
Instead, they drop $50K in the stock market in lieu of $125/hr. on a shrink.
Spoiler Alert: Most traders are fucked up.
But then aren’t we all?