048: An HSP-specific Way of Trading Stocks with Erin West

Erin West

This week on The Sensitive CEO Show, we dive into the world of trading stocks with a special focus on Highly Sensitive Persons. Join me as I chat with the incredible Erin West, an Ivy League graduate and lawyer who took a leap of faith to rediscover her true self after her long-term marriage ended.

Erin faced a crucial decision: continue on a path that drained her physically and mentally, or embrace a new life that aligned with her authentic self. Thankfully, she chose the latter. During her blank slate period, she embarked on global adventures with her children and discovered the power of trading stocks for income.

As Erin’s friends witnessed her newfound energy and financial freedom, they couldn’t help but be intrigued. They sought her guidance on how to trade stocks too, tired of the exhausting rat race they found themselves in. In early 2022, Erin began teaching these women and has since empowered many with her unique approach to trading, rooted in ease, allowing, and compassion.

💝 Key Takeaways

  • Some common perceptions of trading as being high stress, versus Erin’s method, which she sometimes jokingly refers to as “yawn trading” which meets people where they are energetically and time-wise
  • Why this method of trading can support sensitives and the types of students who have been drawn to her (un)classes.
  • How Erin’s trading method and teaching style differs from other classes in an holistic sense.

🔗 Where You Can Find Erin

🌹 Rose’s Resources

📖 (Imperfect) Transcript

We use Descript to provide this transcript which isn’t always perfect but wonderful all the same. (affiliate link 😃)

Rose: Hey, it’s Rose and welcome to another episode of the Sensitive CEO Show.

And in this week’s episode, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Erin West. Erin is an Ivy League graduate and lawyer who teaches women to trade stocks from a perspective of ease, allowing and compassion. And today, Erin is talking to us about an HSP specific way of trading stocks. So welcome, Erin. Wonderful to talk with you today.

Erin: Oh, thank you, Rose. I’m so glad to be here and excited for this conversation.

Rose: Yeah, me too. I’m super curious. So I would love you to talk about your previous law experience and your lifestyle that you had compared to what you do today with trading stocks.

Erin: Right? Yes. It’s a bit of a change, to say the least. So I was trained as a lawyer and I practiced intellectual property law for oh, nearly 15 years and I always practiced in San Francisco at a big firm, and we had lots of clients all over the world. And so I was doing that and I was also, I had two young kids and I had sort of adopted a parenting style that was really, really demanding.

It felt to me that it was the most scientifically sound approach, but it really turned out that it took a lot of my energy, so I was giving a lot to law. I was giving a lot to the way that I was parenting my kids. And I also was in a really long-term marriage that was not aligned, you know, just was not a good match for either of us.

And so it was, it felt like going all of the time without any stop. I was so exhausted and depleted. Always, I mean, it was just, it was so much so that I think that I pretty much lived in a state of, I was pretty much dissociated for a long time and it was challenging and eventually near the end of that phase of my life, I, my health, I had always tried to be fairly health conscious and it just, These more chronic symptoms started to show up. you know, thyroid, adrenal fatigue, all sorts of menstrual irregularities, you know, things like sleep was really challenging though, you know, the classic tired but wired sort of situation. And, eventually, I came to a point somehow that I knew that something major had to change, and so I made a really big decision. I, I, decided to leave my marriage and shortly after that, I sold my house. I sold my car.

I stepped away from law and my kids and I ended up each shaking a carry-on suitcase and I decided to just travel globally for an extended period. And I had, I remember leaving, the place where I had stored all of my belongings and I realized I had no keys, which was a really interesting experience to, to sort of be so untethered and so I had no plan. I had absolutely no plan. All I knew is that I didn’t want to feel like that. And that I had before. And I remember talking to someone, I had really great support in that time, and she said to me, you know, you really need to live a gentle life now. And so in a certain way, it took me years to realize, that I, I remember reading the list for HSPs and it was this moment of like, wow, that has been me always.

And yet I was living a life that was remarkably inconsistent with that. And so then I started to sort of unwind that way of being slowly and during that time of unwinding or sort of a blank slate period, I just, happened to take a class taught by a woman about stock treating, and it was really a diversion.

I had no experience in finance at all. I was an English major, a literature major. Writing was always my thing, and so I took it as a diversion and I ended up being fascinated by it because. I ended up seeing, it was very little about math. It was very much about recognizing patterns, and the part that I love the most is that the patterns that I saw in it were the same patterns that I was seeing all over my life as a human sort of universal pattern.

So that sort of gripped me. I liked it. It was working for me. I was traveling with my kids, and it just sort of unfurled like that. And then,  after doing that for a while, friends kept asking friends, sort of in a world of working really long hours, professional jobs, were asking, what is it that you’re doing that you’re traveling and you have a lot of time to yourself?

Will you teach us? And so they asked me for I think almost a year. And finally I said, okay, I will, but I’m going to do it in a way that is based in ease, that fits with their lifestyles. And so I did it. I said, okay, if I’m going to do this right, this thing, I can’t get sucked back into that other way of being, which was of course very habituated and familiar and so I have really insisted not only on the way that I teach, you know, the class itself and the pedagogical approach on being based on ease and softness, but it’s also the actual method that I teach for trading itself. So it’s pretty different to summarize, there’s a lot more spaciousness, there’s a lot more space to hear myself right. To hear what I need and to tend to the rhythm that actually works for me, right? . Which is not the rhythm that the dominant culture has told us is the way Right. Long, long hours. Even downtime is not super restful, so it’s different. It’s incredible.

Rose: What an amazing story.

And first of all, how brave to kind of let go of that whole life and travel. So I’d love to know where you went. What countries?

Erin: Yeah. So I, the first place we went was we went to Southern Mexico and Oaxaca, which is a city that I had spent a lot of time in before and had a really close connection to.

And we spent a long time there. And then we traveled all over the, all over Mexico. We spent a lot of time in the Yucatan and then we were back in the States for a time in the southwest in the Rockies. And then we spent an extended period in Paris. And, I really wanted to keep going. I loved it.

It was amazing. And my kids were craving the familiarity of their home. So we eventually came back and, yeah, it was, you know, this idea of wintering that Catherine May and her book talks about, it was really a winter of sorts in that way. Just very, I didn’t seem like a lot was happening.

Right. I didn’t have these normal things that we hold onto to tell ourselves it’s okay. And so there was a lot of not doing. Yeah.

Rose: Which sounds in a way ideal for a highly sensitive person. Having that downtime and not striving, not sort of hustling and the busy life. Sounds amazing.

Erin: Yeah. I, I. I did find that, not living, and I don’t know if it was simply because I was not living in the country that I grew up in, or particularly because I wasn’t living in the US but I found it much easier in all of the different places that I was outside of the US to have a more easeful life and a quieter, softer life. So that’s something that I keep testing over and over as I go different places and I’m, every time the answer is, oh no, it’s, it’s actually easier. Even when I’m there for a longer period of time, of course a vacation is different, but that’s something else I noticed a lot.

Rose: So have you been able to bring back any part of that easeful life back in the States now that you’re back in the States?

Erin: Well, yes, parts of it, because I, at, at a minimum, I don’t go into an office at a minimum. I don’t have a set schedule. And I also, you know, especially when you’re practicing law, it’s client services.

So you are there to serve the client, and if a client has a need, you need to respond to them. And so that sort of dictates your pacing, dictates your work hours. Whereas here, now that I am the one who is leaving this work that I do, I can decide even if it’s Tuesday and I, you know, that I can rest. And so there is a certain, for me, a sort of frenetic energy that I experience here.

And yet I do have far more spaciousness than I did before.

Rose: Yeah. I would love to talk about your trading and the method that you teach your clients. How does it support sensitive people?

Erin: Yeah. So I think I would imagine that if my students, about 85% of whom are women, if, if they looked at the list of traits of sensitive people, I would guess many of them fit the bill. So, you know, I think that we think of trading, I did at least as depicted in the movies. So, you know, long rows of screens, men in button down shirts, sweating through them, just high adrenaline or the, you know, the floors of the stock exchange. And I think, you know, one really brilliant aspect of modern technology is the internet and the laptop, right?

And so right there, you’re not in that environment. You’re not in a high stress environment when you’re trading. So that’s a huge step away from the old way of trading, which of course exists in some spheres. And now there are a lot of other people doing it differently. So that’s a big piece. The other piece is that, the way that I teach it, I don’t teach day trading, so it’s not like you’re sitting in front of a screen all day watching these huge movements in price. It’s swing trading, which is, you might be in a trade for between two days and a few weeks. And so we do an analysis and a, and we do it on our own time, right?

And, and then we decide this is a price that we would like to enter this trade at. And so instead of having to watch every day, is this, is the price coming down? Is it coming down? We just set an alert, and so we get an alert on our phone or on our computer when the price is getting near, and then we just do our little final analysis.

We enter all of the key aspects of the trade, the price you wanna enter at, the price you wanna exit at for profit, and the price that you would wanna exit at if it happened to not go right at that moment. And so a, we’re just waiting. Like, it’s very much like we have boundaries. We’re like, we are available to take, we’re not reaching, we’re not grasping.

And so that’s one way we wait for it to come to us. And then once it does all of that information we put into the system and then we just wait. Right? And so it’s, I find that I don’t get hooked in, in my nervous system as much. And in fact, the nervous system is in an enormous amount of my teachings. We work a lot with the nervous system interoception somatic practices, and we do a lot of belief work as well, because I have found that those are actually more than 50% of what makes people sustainable traders.

Right? If you, if you are coming in and your nervous system is getting really activated, You’re not going to have a good association. You’re not going to wanna stick with it, and everyone who takes my class is coming. From a place of wanting to become more aligned in their life. Right. Not less aligned. And so it’s, I often refer to it as a joking way.

I call it yawn trading. Like that’s the, that’s the effect we’re looking for. You know, if we make money that can actually be really activating. If you make, I mean, you come from the world of beliefs. If you make a large amount of money with zero effort, most of us would be activated because we have a lot of stories related to, it has to be hard for us to make money. And so that’s why I’m talking about yawn trading. You make, you know, it’s all base hits a little here, and if things don’t go the right way, it’s also a yawn. You’re like, eh, moving on. And it’s that practice of staying in a state that is comfortable to you and just coming back over and over.

That actually tends to be really profitable. And so it’s a very quiet way of trading. And it fits with my schedule. You know, you don’t have to trade every day. You can trade when you want. One of my rules is I never trade when I’m tired, never trade when I’m doing something else big that day, you know?

And so there’s just so much ease, so much allowing, that it really works for me and I can adjust as I have capacity.

Rose: I love how you have the boundaries of, if, you know, if you’re tired, you’re not gonna trade. Or if there’s something big. I think boundaries are a really big thing for HSPs. And it sounds like you’ve incorporated it really well into the trading

Erin: Yeah, and I think the thing that surprised me most when I started trading, of course I thought it was about numbers and math, and then I learned about, it was about really more like pattern recognition, which, which is a very different skill than numbers in math. But the thing that surprised me is that it’s.

It’s really like a metaphor for so much of the work that we are all doing, right? So it’s a place where, and, and what I love is that each cycle of the trade, I get to practice it, right? I get to practice my stories, I get to work with discomfort, right? Discomfort as I, oh, I wanna get into a trade, but the price is not at, at the price where I analyzed it.

So now I’m managing discomfort. Big gains. I’m, I’m managing that, losses right. All of us have a hard time with loss, but it’s everywhere. And so I get so many reps at these things that I find myself working with in other parts of my life. And like you’re saying, just on the structural way, boundaries like, no, I have to tune in. Do I have the capacity to trade today or I don’t trade when I’m tired. And so I love it for that. And that’s what really hooked me is I realized, oh boy, all of the other work I’m doing, I just almost get extra repetition through trading. And there are other benefits as well, financial benefits.

Rose: Is there anyone who would be more suited or less suited to trading or taking your classes?

Erin: Well, it’s interesting. The first thing that comes up is. The way that I teach my class is not conducive so much to a person who would want to come in and sort of binge watch all of the videos. So sometimes I’ll get people who ask me that and they want to watch them over the course of a weekend.

They want to start trading on Monday, they’re ready to make money, and that is a way of being in the world. But that just happens to not be the way that I’ve structured the class. So, the class is set up and it comes in five minute daily videos, so it’s five minutes and you get an email and a text, and that’s five days a week for eight weeks.

So if you miss a week, you have 25 minutes to make up, and even so you can watch them whenever you want. We do live hour calls for an hour each week, which I record. So it’s very flexible in that sense. It fits into people’s lives. But one of the things that people have loved the most is that I let people come back and take the class live with me as many times as they want because things happen.

Life happens for one. But other things that I’ve started to see patterns of is a lot of people will come in and they’re really excited and then a lot of money beliefs will come up. A lot. And so then I have all sorts of different practices for that. And they might work with those practices or they might not.

They just might let the experience of having traded a little sort of sit in their system for a while and then they reach back out two months later, one month later, however long it doesn’t matter. And then they’ll do it again. And some people finish the whole class and other people get just a little bit further.

And I’ve had people take it up to four times and so, I think, who is it for? I think it is for people who are fairly attuned to themselves and their capacity and their environment, and people who are willing to meet themselves where they are and are okay allowing and having compassion if they realize, oh, I got too busy.

You know, people will say, I’m behind, but my perspective is. Being behind is not a thing. Right. It’s only your pacing. Like that is all that is and that’s always correct. So it’s, you know, I think where people are in their lives is a lot of them, like I mentioned, are just unwinding un unaligned ways of being and trying to reweave a new way of being.

And the way that I teach the class and the way that I teach trading is all a lot based on allowing, right. It’s more like, receiving information, letting it alchemize, and when you’re ready, transmuting it into something that really works for you. So it is a really soft approach to learning anything, you know, and it happens to be trading, but I feel like that’s what a lot of us need, right?

Not to be forced, not, I mean, all of traditional schooling, right? You have to do it on this pacing, and if you don’t, too bad, right? Like. What do you risk getting a bad grade? I’m not sure. Do we really learn better in those circumstances? My experience is no.

Rose: And I think especially as HSPs exactly, we need more, more ease, more time and more, I guess kindness.

Kindness to ourselves. And I love the sound of the five minute videos every day and then one weekly catch up. And yeah, being able to repeat the course is is wonderful because I’m sure people would pick up different things each time they go through it as well.

Erin: Yeah. And, and I think the whole experience, it’s, it’s, for me, joining the course is like an invitation into a circle of humans, mostly women who are looking to shift the way of being in the world, both for themselves and on a larger level.

And so then I have an alumni group after. And so normal traders are very secretive, right? They like, don’t wanna share their trades, they don’t wanna share wins or losses. And for me, that’s the, that place where it’s the opposite, right? So it’s not like the journey ends, you just keep going. This is a lifelong skill.

There’s not a rush, right? It’s, for me, it’s a very, sort of, sometimes I call it like a sacred sovereignty skill for women to know that you have the capacity so long as you have the internet and a little bit of money to have the capacity to, to generate that. Most anytime. And so, you know, you can learn it bit by bit.

As far as I know, capitalism’s not going anywhere for now. So probably the stock market will keep being there. And so it’s that whole sort of in community, you know, trading in community, whatever skill it is, it doesn’t matter. I think so many of us are tired of this narrative of the fallacy of independence, right? It’s not really serving us so well anymore.

Rose: I think there’s a lot of movement towards communities at the moment. It, it’s become more prevalent I feel, in the last sort of year or two, that people love to be together and bounce ideas off each other, help each other, and generally just be there, be there with like-minded people so that It’s wonderful that you offer the alumni for the group.

Erin: Yeah. Yeah, and what you said, you know, just being around like-minded people. I think, I wonder if you see this in your work, but I just noticed that there are so many people who are sort of, you know, looking around and saying, oh, the way we’ve been doing things, not entirely, but there are some aspects that really have not been serving us, and I think that it can be lonely.

When you realize that in perhaps the circle of people who you’ve been with for a long time, sometimes people are willing to look at things in a different way, but not always. There can often be big relational shifts when we’re returning to ourselves, and so I think that, like you’re saying, there is a thirst I feel, to be around other people who are doing the same thing and who have decided to live a life that might be softer or more gentle.

Rose: Yeah, and also upleveling, I think upleveling your life, whereas a lot of people, I’m not seeing anyone listening to this is like this, but I’ve noticed a lot of my friends are still at a certain level because they’re happy with that, whereas I’m always upleveling. It’s a curiosity and a thirst for, not self-actualization, but just wanting more, wanting more for myself, but for everyone around me as well.

And  being around people like that can really help to lift, lift you up as well, as well as lift them up.

Erin: Yeah, absolutely. I just got chills when you said that, so I, I take that as a yes, but I think there is something really powerful in that, right? Being around others and community who are having that similar experience and you know, as I said, thank goodness for the internet, that’s one of the great things is that it expands our, our web of people we can connect with.

Rose: Yeah, we were talking about that before we hit record weren’t we with it. Yeah. We’re, you know, we’re able to connect across the oceans to people who, you know, were similar, but we would never just normally meet if it wasn’t for the internet and social media and being able to reach out on Instagram and Facebook messages and things like that.

So yeah, we are in, in a very wonderful blessed time, although some might not think so.

Erin: Well, I think it, I think that the internet is the classic example of a both and, and just like you said, this time that we are in is also a both end in some ways. Wow. It’s tremendously troubled, and yet it continues to be devastatingly beautiful at the same exact time and it’s like, You know?

Rose: Well, it’s been fascinating sharing or you sharing your, the way that you teach trading. I think that there’d be a lot of people interested in the way that you teach. And I love, I actually love the holistic way as well. It’s not just the trading, but you, you bring in the somatic practices and the mindset practices, so it sounds like you’ve got a wonderful methodology in the way that you teach your classes Erin.

Erin: Yeah. Thank you. It is, I think it is, and I think that people really appreciate that because if maybe you don’t wanna learn something technical that day, that’s fine, but maybe you want a little bit of inspiration so you can find that too. But it’s, it’s fun and I think that it’s also, there’s another layer that it can help us.

In this particular time that we’re having, it can help us feel more fully in our power because only 95 or 95% of traders are men, right? So this is something that historically, most of us, Probably feel that it was not for us. Right? That’s what the messaging has always been. If you, even now, right? If you think about the subconscious aspect, even now when I go to look at the major financial news sites every morning, the articles that I read, I will count the number of photographs, and even today, in the midst of all of these efforts to be more inclusive.

Nearly a hundred percent are white and about 95% are men. Right? And so that is so much reinforcement, even if we’re not aware that we’re taking that in, that that thing, that financial thing, that investment thing is not for us. And so just learning it, taking trades in itself is so empowering. Not to mention that there is research that suggests that women are more profitable traders than men, and we trade less frequently and we’re more profitable. So I think that there are so many layers, and I’m still shocked that this is where I found myself, and yet I keep finding these gems within this thing that I really thought was not for people like me.

Rose: It’s obviously meant to be. Sounds like you found your thing, which is awesome.

Erin: Yeah, I have. And what really makes it worth it for me, I are the students. I mean, I’ve had students from all over the world and they often become friends and I never would’ve expected that.

Rose: Beautiful. Wonderful. Well, before I let you go, I have a question I ask all of my guests. When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

Erin:  My favorite thing to do is so simple. I love to go in my bedroom and draw the curtains and shut off the lights, and I lie down on my bed in the dark and I spread my arms and legs out like a starfish.

And there is something about the darkness and the silence that feels like the most soothing thing that has ever existed. So that is, that is my thing. I starfish on my bed. Wonderful.

Rose: Oh, I love that. Well thank you so much, Erin. It’s been wonderful connecting with you today and I’ll pop all of your links in show notes, but if there was one place where you would like people to come and find you, where would that be?

Erin: I think it would be great to connect with you on Instagram and my handle is humans who Trade.

Rose: Wonderful. And as I said, I’ll pop all of that in the show notes. Thank you again, Erin. It’s been wonderful connecting.

Erin: Likewise. Thank you.

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