Troubleshooting Your Real-Time Strategy


There’s a big difference between controlling emotions and actually correcting the problem. In all my books I talk about the importance of having a real-time strategy to apply in the actual moments when your mental game problems are about to impact your performance. 

As a reminder, or if you’re unfamiliar with the real-time strategy in my system, it consists of four steps:

  • Step 1: Recognizing that your problems have been triggered
  • Step 2: Disrupting the momentum of those emotions
  • Step 3: Injecting Logic
  • Step 4: Using a Strategic Reminder

The real-time strategy is critical but must be developed in the right way or it becomes just another form of emotional suppression, management, or control. In that case it will work in the short term but requires you to constantly be vigilant and on guard because the risk of big mistakes will remain. I want more than that for you.

When done in the right way, your real-time strategy can be transformative. You go from being overrun by emotions to fighting back and gaining the mental stability that allows you to avoid the big mistakes of the past. Importantly, you are actually correcting the cause of your emotions, which makes this experience fundamentally different from controlling them – your emotions actually dissipate vs. getting bottled up.  

Once you develop and crystalize the strategy, you repeatedly apply the correction in the moment immediately after your emotions are triggered. What you are doing is defending against the reaction that already happened to prevent it from snowballing into a bigger problem. And, done right, you are also training your mind at the same time to correct the faulty thinking that got you there in the first place.

I recommend reviewing Chapter 9 of The Mental Game of Trading and/or Chapter 4 of The Mental Game of Poker to gain a fuller understanding of how to create the most effective strategy for you. That said, it can be challenging to do this work on your own so I wanted to flag a few of the most common issues I see with 1:1 clients, readers, and the participants of The Mental Game of Trading LIVE.


Thinking Awareness is Enough

Awareness/recognition of your problem is critical. If you don’t know what’s wrong, and can’t see it happening in real-time, how can you fix it? I often talk about the value of recognizing your problem in its earliest stages so you can prevent big blow ups. Awareness is huge, but it’s just the first step. What I hear over and over is “I know what I’m doing wrong, why do I keep doing it again and again?!” The simple answer is that awareness is not a solution. Developing the ability to see your problems emerge in real-time gives you the opportunity to apply a correction. 

Too many people fall for the false impression that because you are aware of the problem you have a deeper understanding of what’s happening. Then they fail to keep working and get to that next level of insight. Keep going. Complete every step and include all of the details. If you half-ass it, the problem will linger and you’ll end up being even more self-critical because you see your problems even more clearly and you’ll continue to make mistakes you thought you had licked


Not Using Injecting Logic Correctly 

Correcting your reaction is a combination of having the right logic and ensuring the logic is so clearly defined in your mind that it’s strong enough to stop the pattern in its tracks. Unfortunately, the role of Injecting Logic often gets misunderstood. It is not intended to give you a short-term burst of inspiration and get you thinking differently just in that moment. That’s great if it does, but remember the logic is not only to help stop your pattern quickly but, more importantly, it’s to correct the flaw/bias/illusion that lies under the mistake

In order to truly correct the flaw/bias/illusion, your Injecting Logic statement needs to be specific to you and, ideally, in your own words. Too often people use phrases or sentences that sound nice in theory and are technically correct but aren’t really targeting the root cause of your problem. It’s like having a specialized weed killer but using it on the wrong weed.

Another way that people tend to misuse this technique is that they show up unprepared and are not repeatedly applying it throughout the trading or poker session. The logic you are using has to be easily remembered to create the potency needed to crack through the emotion. Like chopping down a tree with an ax, it’s going to take a lot of swings to get the job done. This means you need to use that logic repeatedly and, ideally, as soon as your emotions have been triggered.

Some strong Injecting Logic examples include:

  • Focus (trading): Trading is a job. Run it like a serious business that demands my best. When the session is over, I can focus on other things. Not now.
  • Overconfidence (poker): It feels like I can take on anyone, but I can’t. Thinking that way is an illusion.
  • Hating to lose (trading): I’ll win some and I’ll lose some—losses are inevitable—but as long as I control my emotions when the losses occur and continue trading within my strategy, I will profit over the long term.


Quitting Too Soon

If this is your first attempt at creating a real-time strategy, go test it and see how it works.  Remember, however, one day is not enough data. Do it for at least a week. Make adjustments. Try again. Repeat.

Even if your strategy is the most effective one ever built, the ability to deactivate your triggers rarely happens in a single moment. You are building new neurological pathways, creating a new way of reacting. That will take time. Don’t get frustrated. If you get stuck and find that your Injecting Logic statement isn’t working, review these common reasons and troubleshoot:

  • The logic wasn’t strong enough in your mind → Study your statement and consider using a voice recording or a form of multimedia.
  • Your level of emotion was stronger than you realized → Revise your map and Inject Logic sooner.
  • The statement wasn’t potent enough → Revise your Mental Hand History.
  • Accumulated emotion flooded your mind → Complete a Mental Hand History on the old emotion.
  • Something new threw you off → Revise your map and complete a new Mental Hand History.

Remember, learning to correct your reaction is where a lot of the hard work in the system lies. 

First you find the flaw. Then you come up with a correction. But to truly change flaws, biases, wishes, and illusions, you must repeat the correction over and over, and over again. You become like professional athletes who spend dedicated and focused time to hone their technique, so it’s strong enough to compete. 

Here you’re learning a technique for the mind. In this way you’re mastering the correction so that it upgrades and permanently corrects the flaw. Once permanently corrected, you’ve reached resolution. The old way of reacting is disabled, and you automatically have the presence of mind needed to perform at your highest level.

Don’t quit. Correcting your problem is worth it. 


Written by Jared Tendler

July 10, 2023

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