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The Artful Trader | Series 3 | Episode 1
Confidence is below the surface
Sara Laamanen coaches trading experts and executive CEOs using world renowned Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT). Sara talks to The Artful Trader podcast about the subconscious as the root cause of low confidence and how to overcome this. Sara also takes host Michael McCarthy through real life cases and the impact of emotions on the decision making process.
Sara Laamanen coaches trading experts and executive CEOs using world renowned Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT). Sara unlocks the subconscious minds of her clients to reclaim lost confidence by unpicking the root causes of low self-esteem and helping traders to manage the relationship between emotions and its impact on behaviour.
Sara Laamanen: The subconscious mind does sabotage the conscious mind every second of every day. It is the one that's in charge in a battle between emotion and logic, emotion will always win hands down, every time.
Michael McCarthy: From CMC Markets this is the Artful Trader.
Michael McCarthy: Hello and welcome to The Artful Trader, I'm Michael McCarthy, Chief Market Strategist at CMC Markets Asia Pacific. In our third season, we talk to the experts in their own fields to uncover what gives them the confidence to succeed. We uncover confidence, unlocking the secrets behind resilience, preparation and growth and how it can make you a better trader. Today we're speaking to transformational consultant Sara Laamanen. Sara unlocks the subconscious minds of her clients to reclaim lost confidence. She does so by unpicking the root causes of low self-esteem, among other issues. Sara describes herself as a transformational ally. Her practice is based on the belief in the human capacity to evolve when the power of the mind is fully understood. Sara, you're a trading coach, you're an expert in various therapies and strategies that help build traders up, and in particular you apply rapid transformational therapy. We'd like today to get an understanding of what it is that you do with traders. So perhaps we could start by asking you what is rapid transformational therapy?
Sara Laamanen: So rapid transformational therapy was developed by one of Britain's top therapists, Marisa Peer, and she is the therapist to various celebrities in the Royal family. And she developed a method over 30 years that utilizes hypnotherapy and various psychotherapy tools to really effect change rapidly at a deep level within the subconscious mind. And so she has basically shared her formula and trained other people to do exactly what she does to get the results that she gets.
Michael McCarthy: Okay. Well, let's get into why it's so important. Why don't people trust themselves? What's the origin of self-doubt?
Sara Laamanen: The origin of self-doubt is a belief found in the subconscious mind, and it's a limiting belief. It's usually typically a belief that sounds something like I'm not smart enough. I don't know what, I essentially don't know what the right thing to do is. And if I don't know what the right thing to do is, I can't possibly trust myself. So what we do with this therapy is we go right into the subconscious mind through the use of another brainwave, which is the alpha brainwave to get into the subconscious mind and find out what's actually going on in there. Because you might consciously say, I do believe in myself, I know I'm competent, I know I've done the training, I've developed my hard skills. But then when you get into the subconscious mind, you find something very different.
Michael McCarthy: So why do our subconscious beliefs have such a grip on us?
Sara Laamanen: Well, because the subconscious mind is actually driving everything, all of your thoughts, your feelings, your actions, behaviours come from originally from the subconscious mind, the data running in the subconscious mind. And when you learn how to leverage it and actually get in there and clean things up and install the correct beliefs, your abilities, your capacity is limitless.
Michael McCarthy: What are some common subconscious beliefs and how do they impact confidence?
Sara Laamanen: One, I find that's very common in traders in particular is the belief that I'm not really good enough. I'm not really talented enough. I don't really have that edge. And why do they believe that, they believe that because there's something that happened in their childhood, some event, it could be major trauma or it could be something that was very seemingly insignificant. But they formed a belief in that moment in time about themselves. And that belief was, I'm not smart enough and I'm never going to be smart enough. And surprisingly, those childhood memories are still living in you, they're still living in me, and they're still impacting our behaviour today.
Michael McCarthy: Okay, so are these beliefs logical or illogical?
Sara Laamanen: They're illogical. So this is what I love so much about this work, because I have never once had a client go in, back to a belief, which is the root cause of why they are, let's say they have low confidence today and high self-doubt. I've never once had someone look back at that belief from their perspective today. Turn it over, look at it every which way and decide that yes, indeed they should have formed that belief. It's always illogical. And in that moment in time there's a profound level of understanding and an opportunity to change that belief, because you can see really how illogical it is, and how it's irrelevant to your current day life, to your reality.
Michael McCarthy: How does self-doubt impact our decision making as traders?
Sara Laamanen: So self-doubt triggers a fear response. So if you really are about to make a move or you're at a decision point, fear is essentially triggered if you don't believe that you have the capacity or the ability or the knowledge or the skills to understand the nuances or whatever you're looking at in a decision-making point in time. So it triggers fear. When you trigger fear, you have the stress response and what happens is that you lose access to the higher functioning prefrontal cortex of your mind and all of your resources go to survival. The fear response. And that's essentially the last thing you would want to be doing right? When you're analysing a situation in a high-paced fast-moving moment with a lot of information, data coming your way, you don't want to lose your highest order of functioning, your executive functioning. So by installing self-trust and installing incredible confidence, you have the capacity to mitigate that fear response.
Michael McCarthy: Do we learn to be fearful?
Sara Laamanen: I believe that we do. I understand that there's only a couple of fears we were born with and one of them is the fear of being dropped. That's a fear we're born with for good reason, right? Initially as an infant. But other than that, fear is learned. It's a learned response to life.
Michael McCarthy: Well, anybody who's seen a baby stick everything they can get their hands on in their mouth understands. I think that there's not a lot of fears present at that time.
Sara Laamanen: Exactly.
Michael McCarthy: So what's the relationship between emotion and behaviour?
Sara Laamanen: So emotion informs our behaviour. So we have beliefs held in your subconscious mind and your thoughts come from those exact beliefs, your thoughts that you're having in your mind. Create the emotions you're having, the feelings you're having in your body. And then we act and behave from those emotions and feelings. So, and our actions and behaviours determine our results and our performance. So it's really the quality of the emotions you're having that determines the quality of your performance and your results. So how do you determine the quality of your emotions? Well, that's by understanding the beliefs held in your subconscious mind. Are they healthy? Are they expansive? Do they support your ability to go out and take risks to take measured risk? Or are they constantly self-sabotaging you and limiting your ability to grow and become better and better at your craft.
Michael McCarthy: I've heard this explained as your primitive brain hijacks your thinking brain?
Sara Laamanen: Yes. Well, if we're going to liken the primitive brain to the subconscious brain, I can tell you that yes, the subconscious mind does sabotage the conscious mind every second of every day. It is the one that's in charge. In a battle between emotion and logic, emotion will always win, hands down every time. And the emotional mind is the subconscious mind.
Michael McCarthy: So how do we know when we're being driven by our emotional mind?
Sara Laamanen: Well, we're always being driven by our emotions. I think the question is what is the quality of our emotions and what are those emotions leading us to do? Are they leading us to self-sabotage or to actually make and take great risks or make decisions or improve our systems? I think that's the question.
Michael McCarthy: Okay, so is it external measures that tell us or?
Sara Laamanen: Well, I think it's on based on the way you feel. First and foremost, if you feel good emotion, positive emotion, I think that's a great indicator that you have sound subconscious beliefs, beliefs that are supporting you. If you feel chronic stress, you feel fear, you feel doubt, you feel loneliness, or you have issues in other areas of your life, in your personal life, then I think that's a strong indicator that there is some cleaning up to be done in your subconscious mind. And the other thing is that it's not your fault. When you have these behavioural, these performance blocks, it's really important to understand that it's not your fault, because the conscious mind can't outsmart the subconscious. So the best thing you can do is actually go in there, explore what it is. And the thing is, is it doesn't take that long to resolve and clean it up. And that's what I love about this method is that in one, two, three sessions, you can have a massive transformation.
Michael McCarthy: Perhaps it's just that you've explained it so well, but it sounds very straight forward. I mean, why is it hard to change old habits?
Sara Laamanen: It's hard to change old habits when you try to change them through the conscious mind. So we can sit here Michael and talk all day long about why you're not performing at the level you want to perform and we'll never touch the subconscious, we'll never get to the root cause. But if I put you into hypnosis and I start asking questions and we go in and find out what is the root cause, what's actually happening in that subconscious emotional mind that's driving your behaviours, then we're going to get answers, and then you have an opportunity to change it.
Michael McCarthy: Okay. So you've said two or three sessions delving into the subconscious can be enough to bring about very important change. Can you tell us how that works? Or what your therapies are?
Sara Laamanen: For example, I work with a lot of traders that come to me for this feeling of consistent doubt, self-doubt in their trading fear, that feeling of fear overcoming them right? And they want to manage that or get that resolved or lowered enough so that it's not impacting their day-to-day trading. So how I start is I have a consult, we talk about the issues they're having, we determine what is the most pressing issue to deal with right away. And often, as I said, it's the self-doubt, it's this low confidence. And then we would schedule a two-hour session. And what happens is hypnotherapy is just like being in a relaxed state. It's like having a conversation with me where you're totally relaxed, you have your eyes closed, you remember everything, you're in complete control. And we just move through the process, through all the different tools that I have. And I walk you back to the memories that are fuelling. So memories are just like data playing in your subconscious on loop, that are keeping those beliefs alive. So what we do is I regress you back, which just means asking your subconscious mind, what's the root cause of this? Why do you feel the way you do today whenever you go to make a trade, why does that fear come up? And your subconscious will very easily give you memories that are the origin of that belief that created that. So the memory might be that, you know, you lost a race. You were eight years old. It was elementary school, you came last in the whole class in a running race, and some of the kids made fun of you and you decided in that moment, I'm not good at this and I'm probably not good at anything. And if I'm not good at anything, I'll never succeed. And in that moment that gets locked into your subconscious. It's a belief and it lives there. But then when you go back and you look at the memory as an adult, you can go, I lost the running race, big deal. I was really good at this. I was really, you know, talented, you know, in art and I was a, you know, amazing skier, whatever else it was. And realizing that was never true. And the fact that that belief, that memory is still playing in your subconscious and making you feel that way is totally illogical. Right. So it's very liberating to release that.
Michael McCarthy: All right. I understand why you make your clients feel lighter after a session.
Sara Laamanen: Yeah.
Michael McCarthy: So through the Artful Trader podcast series, we've been lucky to speak with people from all over the world who are experts in trading. One of them was Jack Schweiger. Jack of course, is the author of the Market Wizard series. And Jack spends his time matching traders up with funds. And Jack said he's never seen a successful trader to sit at the feet of another trader and learn that trader's method and make money that way. His belief is that every trader has to find their own way. Do you find that with traders as well, that those beliefs that are holding them back are different, or are they common?
Sara Laamanen: They're very common. There's only a handful of limiting beliefs that we see in our work and they are, I'm not enough, so it might be I'm not smart enough. I'm not interesting enough, I'm not talented enough, I'm not lovable, I'm not connected, but what I want is not available to me. Those are a few of the ones that always, that's if you take away everything else, boil it all down, that's what you'll get to.
Michael McCarthy: A lot of early work around trading was about suppressing emotion, but more lately there's been a move towards using emotion. And we spoke with Annie Duke who not only won a world series of poker tournament, but is a cognitive psychologist. And she was very big on recognizing her emotions and utilizing them. Do you have a view on how traders should deal with the emotional aspects of trading?
Sara Laamanen: I do. I think that it's incredibly important to be aware of emotions and not to take a back seat to them, and let them be the things that inform your decision making without actually being conscious and aware of what's going on. So back to what I said originally, which was that the quality of the emotions, if they're positive emotions, you might feel a level of tension and excitement, but that's different from that feeling and you can connect with that in session with me. That feeling of fear, that feeling of doubt, that feeling of I am not enough. That's very different. And when you can understand the difference between those two, then you know which emotions are actually informing you in a healthy, positive profit-producing way, and which ones are actually sabotaging you.
Michael McCarthy: Well, I'm very relieved to hear you say that. I've come to love the markets and I get quite excited about trading. And I've been told a number of times by mentors that I need to make my trading more boring. So I look forward to having that discussion with them again after your input. Thank you.
Sara Laamanen: Okay, great. Excellent.
Michael McCarthy: So I'd like to get an understanding for our listeners as to how this happens in practice. Could you run us through perhaps, obviously we don't want to destroy any confidentiality, but could you give us a case study as to how this might happen?
Sara Laamanen: Yeah, so I've prepared a hybrid case study, and of course my client confidentiality is of utmost importance. So I've put together a few different client scenarios to walk you through, to show you how this actually works. Trader comes to me, they've been trading for five years. They're breaking even. But after analysing all of their trades, they realize that they're not getting the results that they want. So we have a consult call, we talk about what are the issues, what are the biggest issues they're having? And basically we find out that of course it's that feeling of fear. It's that self-doubt, that constant doubt, and changing their strategy based on the doubt rather than being consistent and confident. So we go in and ask, what's the root cause of this self-doubt, this feeling of self-doubt that you're feeling now related to a childhood memory. The subconscious brings up a memory. So the first memory example I'm going to give is, and I always go to at least three memories, because that's how we weave it all together. We get all the puzzle pieces through three memories. So the first one being again, that elementary school running race example. So the first scene is the belief that came up after the running race was, I'm not good at this and I won't be good at anything and it'll always be this way. I'm going to fail. Second scene that comes up is 11 years old, report card time, the child brings the report card home. It's not good. The marks are very low. He or she is humiliated, embarrassed, shows mom and dad, they're very disappointed, they're shaking their heads. They're saying, what are we going to do with you? You need to work harder. You're not working hard enough, and they're clearly disappointed. And the belief that's formed in that particular scene in that memory was, if I can't work hard and get good grades, I'll never be smart enough to get it, and I just, I won't make it, I won't succeed. And then the third scene, the third memory that comes up in this case study is the child is 10, and he or she gets in trouble with their cousin for stealing candy from a store. They get caught. Mom and dad sit them down and say, you better tell the truth, who did it? They're pressuring them, they're angry, and then they say, wait. Whoever tells the truth will get a reward. So you decide, the client decides that they're going to tell the truth, they're going to fess up to it, but the cousin actually did it. The cousin actually stole the candy, but they think, well, if I tell mom and dad, they'll be proud of me. I did the right thing. Well, the client fesses up, he gets harshly punished and decides. I thought it was the right thing to do, but clearly it was the wrong thing to do. Therefore, I can't trust myself, because if I think something's right, it's actually going to be wrong, and I can't be trusted to make the right decisions. In other words, I can't trust my own instincts. And that's a really interesting example, and I had to share that because that comes up a lot, a childhood memory where you thought you were doing the right thing and then you get this total opposite response and you decide in that moment, I can't trust myself. Well, then when we look back in the session and go over those particular memories, and the third one, for example, the client realized that no, I was doing what I thought was the right thing. I was a good kid. I was trying to make my parents feel better. It was high pressure. I was scared. But then looking back on my life, have I made good decisions? Yes, I have made good decisions. Do I have good instincts. Yes, I have good instincts. I don't always get it right, but I usually get it right. So in that moment, as you're going over this, you're going, you're changing that actual belief, the way that data is running in your subconscious. And then after we've done that, I create a recording, we call it a transformational recording. And it installs all of the correct beliefs that we've just rewired into your subconscious, and you listen to that every day for 21 days. And that's how you change the subconscious, how you actually hard-wire it. So we rewire it in the session, then you hardwire it over 21 days by just constantly flooding the subconscious with the correct beliefs, which are essentially the beliefs you were born with. You were born with confidence. You were born to be clear-minded, to try things, as you said earlier with babies. Right.
Michael McCarthy: Hmm. You can try anything.
Sara Laamanen: Yeah, exactly.
Michael McCarthy: So at the heart of what you do, you help traders overcome doubt and fear?
Sara Laamanen: Exactly. Yeah. It does not take decades. It doesn't take a lifetime to resolve these issues. And that's another reason why I love this therapy.
Michael McCarthy: Fantastic. Well, as somebody who's used hypnotherapy to give up smoking, I understand what you're saying. But I had never thought of applying it to trading. Is what you're doing considered radical in the trading community?
Sara Laamanen: Ah, that's a great question. I don't know, is it? You might be the better one to answer that. Is that radical?
Michael McCarthy: Well I'm a rugged individualist, so I tend to avoid discussing that sort of thing with traders. It's about keeping my methods to myself, but yeah, I don't think so. I must say you know, 25 years ago meditation was a new thing in trading, you know, calming the mind and putting yourself in a good state to trade. But it's pretty commonplace these days, I must say. And particularly with the newer, younger traders coming through, they seem to be much more open to drawing on knowledge and wisdom from other fields of studies.
Sara Laamanen: Yeah, that's wonderful. There's a real hunger for it, a real interest in learning more about this and understanding the psychological edge to their performance. So, I see that there's a great interest out there and that's really exciting.
Michael McCarthy: How do clients find you?
Sara Laamanen: Well, I do speaking engagements, so they find me through that. And then I have a website at Saralaamanen.com, and I blog on there and I love hearing from people to answer questions and you can schedule consult calls on my website and that's how they find me.
Michael McCarthy: That was Sara Laamanen in the first episode of The Artful Trader, Confidence Uncovered. This series, we're talking to experts in their own field to unlock the secrets behind resilience, preparation, determination, and growth. And ultimately how this can make you a better trader. Join us next time.