What affects you more psychologically: Losing big or missing a big opportunity?

I’ve read that some of the pro traders actually find it worse if they lose a big opportunity to make $$ than actually losing money.

But for you personally, which are you more bothered by? Exiting early and missing out on a huge potential to make money or losing it?

I hate it when I allow a loss to grow. I can always find another opportunity but when it comes it will be devalued as I will have less money to put into it.

I am becoming better at letting marginal opportunities go by as these are just money traps usually.

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The below used to be the signature of a forum member many years ago but it has stuck with me and I try to apply it as best I can:

“I would rather be out of a trade wishing I was in than being in a trade wishing I was out”.

So no. Missing opportunities may be frustrating but it’s not the end of the world. There will always be another trade somewhere sometime. Probably the one thing you can indeed be sure of re: the markets.

As far as losing money is concerned: I personally can accept a loss gracefully if I can honestly say that the loss was a result of my following my trading system to the letter. Incurring a loss because I’ve allowed emotion and greed to creep in and second guessed my trading system: it is those losses that do my head in.



IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
’ Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And - which is more - you’ll be a Man, my son!.."



From some traders I’ve spoken with, it seems they get “mad at themselves” for wasting the opportunity and not taking it. Like to them, losses are already included in their trade plan but not even taking a chance at a possible trade is difficult to accept. At least that’s what I gathered.

Personally, I feel worse losing but then again I haven’t had any huge missed trading opportunities.

I agree with that. :slight_smile:

Beautiful @Falstaff. Thank you for sharing. :slight_smile:

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Missing opportunity always affects more just because losing big could be avoided by proper risk management, while it is always possible to miss great opportunity because of many issues: you could be away of your workplace or pay attention to another situation, or even your strategy rules could be so detailed that this opportunity would not pass your “filter”. Of course, additional rules could help to avoid many false signals, but at the same time the would sort out many signals that could be profitable whiel some of them could bring huge profit. That is why it is so important to find proper balance between excluding false signals and finding opportunities.

  • "You haven’t watched Al Gore’s Video, enough ! " :wink:

Comforting perhaps that Daniel Kahnemann Got a Nobel Prize for economics for his dissertations in conjunctions with Tversky (who sadly had died before the awards) - For recognising the truth of Kipling’s poem a century or more before.

The main thrust of their research into behavioural Economics / Psychology which recognises the fallacies built into our psyches in the form "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" and indeed many of our “Received wisdom” sayings.

I agree with this 100%.

A loss is a tangible element that actually affects the bottom line of your account … a missed opportunity is simply psychological … Without a negative impacts on your bottom line.

There’s always another opportunity on the way.



Every trader will necessitate to hold his emotions in positive manner so that he can manage all activities here. Yes, with effective trading methods a trader can expect to earn money. From my point of view losing money is more pathetic than earning lesser money.

To me personally is best to use trailing stop/step after a small exceptable profit. Afterall I still made a profit. Just sharing.

I think this is really what needs to be emphasized. That’s a nice way of looking at it. Thank you!

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Well? @jefftey_setiawan0261 Which one do you prefer?

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I am more bothered by losses than missing an opportunity. Opportunities may come and go but losses are something that will break your morale . Mounting losses make me reluctant to place trades . One may always find an opportunity sooner or later. But nothing bothers me more than a loss. You just need to keep your losses to a minimum and opportunities will find your way.


Could not put it better myself even if I tried.

Nice post.

Obviously missing a big opportunity hurt more than losing money as losing money can still be avoided by some kind of planning or management. But traders should try to hold their emotions and apply logic instead of begrudging as opportunities will come and go.

Actually, I can add to what I said previously about hating letting a loss grow.

What I really hate is allowing a profitable position become a loser. Even if its only a small loss, it is so annoying that I let those numbers go from blue to red. When you open a trade and it goes straight into the red and straight to the stop-loss, well, OK, I don’t have a 100% win rate strategy so some losses are unavoidable, they’re built in. But letting a winner fail, I feel it twice as bad. That’s down to me. Its not statistics, its not the market, its just poor trade management.

I’m now taking winners early, sometimes at a point of what I think is probably maximum TA strength. So be it. Better to have money in the account and be hard pressed to find where to put it that not have money in the account and be hard pressed to find some more. And I sleep better.

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So true.

Although… how do you feel if it doesn’t really turn into a loss? What if it was initially profitable and then turned breakeven?

@Tommor This is basically trading your PnL and not the market. Stop doing it and sort it out. Decisions must be based in reality.

The fear of losing can cause all manner of weird adaptations in your trading.
It can manifest a coupe of behaviours such as:

  • Taking profits too early (risk aversion)
  • Moving stop to break even (risk aversion)
  • Being unable to think clearly, becoming impulsive in trading decisions (fear turns your thinking brain to jelly)
  • Having to constantly force yourself to trade, rather than willingly trading. You trade out of obligation instead of a desire to trade. This can cause you to trade sparsely to spread out the pain

If you integrate your fear of losing and accept losses as part of doing business it becomes a lot easier.
You start to make better quality decisions. You lose less often. You make more when you’re right and lose less when you’re wrong.

I’ve recently been putting a lot of focus into the topic of losing in trading. It really affects your motivation to trade. I have pretty strong willpower to move towards where I want to go in life but it’s not enough. You need habit, willpower is an exhaustible muscle.

What are specific trading habits you have (or recommend to have) outside of following your trading strategy?

Not adding to losers.
Cutting losses quickly, not clinging to hope.
Not trading impulsively, no revenge trades
Good position sizing, keeping risk as low as possible

I’m still working on this one:
Patience, waiting for a price level