Use unlearning to become a better crypto trader

There is a lot going on in the crypto space these days.

You are probably inundated with newsletters from Coindesk, Cryptocompare, and the guys at Messari.

New projects are sprouting like dandelions on an unattended field. There’s DeFi, DAOs, NFTs, and all kinds of new blockchain platforms to build on.

And there is so much to learn.

But that’s part of the problem.

You come into crypto with a series of ideas about money, technology, and blockchain. Over time those ideas are changed, reshaped, and replaced.

Some of these new beliefs are shaped by hard experiences. Like if you were around in 2017 and missed the top in BTC and rode it all the way down. Or March 2020 when the market had a futures equivalent of a sudden landslide and ETH got massacred by a problem at a DAO. Maybe you were caught in one of several liquidations in 2021.

These experiences create all the elements of learning. There is emotion and an adverse situation. Then there is your money on the line. These combine to create powerful memories.

If you’ve been through these events, they have most likely left a mark.

It is that mark that may hamper your performance going forward.

So while the bias in markets is to continue to learn, it is sometimes the unlearning that makes the difference.

A trader seated working on his laptop trading BTC and ETH

Uncertainty means coping instead of thriving

2020 and 2021 have been hard. It doesn’t matter who you are or what is going on. The ongoing uncertainty is a wound that will not seem to heal. There is always some new thing, problem, or an old one repeated.

This happens in trading sometimes.

You get caught up in a bad position, decision or trading outcome and are coping. You are learning here, too, learning to cope.

Like a patient with chronic pain, you don’t even realize that it’s happening. You’re just doing it.

This coping is affecting everything you do. It changes your perception of the world around you. It changes how you see the activity on the trading screen. It wears you down.

And because of this it’s not hard to get a bit lazy about things around you.

That trading plan might seem a little less important because you’re feeling tired.

Taking on some risk in a drawdown with the odds in your favor might feel too hard. So you don’t do it.

You may feel unnecessarily distracted because there is so much going on.

The experience is not unlike a long period of trading losses in a weak market.

But in a trading market like 2021, this can be detrimental.

Remember, just like a farmer, you gotta make hay when the sun is shining.

There are no old bold traders

An old trading expression goes something like this: there are old traders, and there are bold traders. But there are no old bold traders.

The reason is this trauma. The deep repository of punishment over many years leaves scars. And while the trader is accumulating learning, they are also coping with the trauma of events.

These events in markets can happen with astonishing frequency. There have been many of these over the last several years. And every trader individually can feel these events being shaped inside as positions move against them. Or when Bitcoin “pumps” without them.

You never forget your first big loss or big win.

It will affect many of your decisions going forward, even though you don’t realize it.

Whenever you perceive a situation that resembles a painful market event, you will feel the pain and angst. After a while, you may even forget the reason for the event.

But your body never forgets.

To be more effective as a trader, you will have to forget.

You can do this by unlearning.

Unlearning through crypto and blockchain

Unlearning things is one of the most important and underrated things you can do in life.

Bad habits can be unlearned.

Coping behaviors that are no longer useful can be unlearned too.

In this day and age, the act of unlearning will prove to be a differentiator.

If you are involved in cryptocurrency, blockchain, and the cryptosphere generally, you are actively engaging in unlearning and forgetting. You probably don’t think of it that way.

By participating freely in a market that demands personal responsibility and engagement, you are unlearning the limitations of the current system.

You are unlearning that your participation is limited if you aren’t accredited.

Unlearning the idea that your experience should be bubble-wrapped, so you don’t lose anything. But without the risk of some loss, you probably won’t make meaningful gains either.

Instead, you are choosing to engage in value exploration. You are willing to use real money and accept the responsibility that comes with that.

You don’t fear risk. Instead, you evaluate and embrace it.

You don’t accept the status quo. You are looking for something better.

That is how you unlearn.

But in your trading, this is sometimes harder than it seems.

Thrive, don’t survive

2021 was an exceptional year for trading. The volatility has been all over the charts.

You’ve had some new highs and painful short-term lows. And these have happened more than you would expect. You may have benefited from some and been steamrolled by others.

This is occurring in a backdrop of massive changes in society. These alone are stressful.

The act of unlearning is to take things you believe and examine whether the event that precipitated the belief is valid.

Bitcoin failed several times on its way to new highs in 2020. If you were beat up from the old high in 2017 and crypto winter in 2018, you probably sold too early. Then maybe you berated yourself as you hesitated to join the move higher. March 2020 may have conditioned you that certain kinds of news can create certain results.

Are those experiences still valid?

How has the market changed?

It’s changed a lot. So challenge that belief and unlearn it.

A new high doesn’t necessarily mean a blowoff top. And a leverage liquidation doesn’t necessarily mean upcoming new lows. Certain kinds of news don’t telegraph a certain outcome.

Your positioning, expectations, and beliefs will shape how you see these events.

These are opportunities.

So replace those old erroneous ideas with new ones. Unlearn them.

Unlearning through gratitude

The word gratitude seems to be present more often these days. You can hear it on the lips of the wise and read it on pages in the quiet corners of the web.

Gratitude isn’t simply an acknowledgment. It’s a recognition of the things that you are unlearning.

You are thankful for one thing versus another. You prioritize the truth over false ideas and beliefs. You are acknowledging that nothing great happens when a person is stuck in a place of survival or coping. It’s too hard to be open and think clearly in that state.

With crypto, you have one of the greatest pure trading markets on the planet today. There is free and unrestricted value discovery. There are numerous new visions of business, communities, and the shaping of new belief systems. And you can pick the ones you want to support and be a part of.

You do this by challenging old ideas that don’t serve you. By forgetting.

You do this by updating your trading rules and getting rid of things that don’t work anymore.

And you do this by shifting the way you think by expressing gratitude.

In a fast-changing world, everyone is filling their minds to the brim with new learning. But more information isn’t always the answer. Sometimes more information is the problem because not all learning is valuable.

So examine your beliefs when looking at the market, the crypto assets you trade, and the world around you. Then, ask yourself if what you know is true.

Or is it interfering with your trading decisions?

Then update your thinking, see what’s in front of you in a new way, and work towards a more profitable future.



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