“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”- Soren Kierkegaard
In this article, you will learn three effective strategies to overcome approach anxiety:
- Understand that fear is excitement.
- Take one step at a time, and
- Use the power of persistence.
1. Understand That Fear Is Excitement
“Your emotions are the slaves to your thoughts, and you are the slave to your emotions.”- Elizabeth Gilbert
Research has found that anxiety can be mistaken for sexual attraction. In the famous bridge study, male participants crossed a rickety bridge with a drop of over 200 feet. As the men crossed the bridge, they became highly anxious. On the other end of the bridge, a female lab assistant administered the participants a survey. After the survey, the lab assistant gave participants her phone number to call if they had any further questions. Half of the men called the assistant, and several even asked her out on a date.
This is in stark contrast to participants in the control group who crossed a much safer bridge that didn’t cause anxiety: none of them followed up with the assistant, and none of them asked her on a date.
The men who were anxious after crossing the rickety bridge experienced what psychologists call misattribution of arousal. They were brought into a state of psychological arousal from crossing the bridge, and when the female lab assistant gave them her number, they mistook their anxiety from crossing the bridge as attraction for the lab assistant.
This may seem strange at first glance, but when you compare the symptoms of anxiety and sexual attraction it makes perfect sense that these two states could be confused. The symptoms of anxiety include:
- Sweaty palms
- Increased heart-rate
- Heavy breathing
- Dilated pupils
- Intensified emotions
What else causes all these symptoms? Sexual attraction.
The fact that participants of the bridge study asked the female lab assistant on a date has an important implication: anxiety is a subjective experience. When men interpret anxiety as a sign that they’re sexually attracted to someone because of the misattribution of arousal, it becomes a good thing, a reason to ask a woman on a date.
Anxiety and excitement are two sides of the same coin. For one person, skydiving is the most thrilling experience imaginable, for another it’s the most frightening. Similarly, approaching women can either be exciting or anxiety provoking, it’s completely subjective.
How To Turn Approach Anxiety into Approach Excitement
Harvard scientists ran a study in which they made participants give a speech in front of an audience to induce social anxiety. The first group of participants wasn’t given any special instructions for giving their speech, and unsurprisingly, their levels of social anxiety were high. Resultantly, their performances suffered.
A second group of participants was given a very simple exercise to practice before and during their speech. They were instructed to reinterpret anxiety as excitement. Whenever they felt nervous, they were to tell themselves, “I feel excited.” Participants in this second group not only felt more calm and confident, but also performed significantly better.
When you see a girl who you want to approach, don’t try to deny any anxiety you feel. Instead of fighting it, reinterpret it. Tell yourself that you are excited. Consciously think this, and each time you do this, you will start to change the meaning of approach anxiety. You can’t get rid of approach anxiety, but you can transform it into a positive experience.
2. Take One Step at a Time
“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”- Confucius
One of the most effective ways to approach if you’re feeling hesitant is to ask yourself a simple question, “What’s the smallest step I can take towards approaching a girl right now?”
The answer is usually going to be: “Start moving.”
One of the most common mistakes guys make when going out to meet women is that they just stand in a circle with their friends (this is sometimes called a chode circle) and don’t move anywhere. Standing still creates a sort of psychological inertia (inertia is the law of physics that states objects at rest stay at rest and those in motion stay in motion). The longer you hesitate, the more resistance you build to taking action.
Simply moving around the venue you’re in is an important step towards approaching women. Each small step you take builds forward momentum.
Once you’ve started moving around the environment, you can ask yourself the question again, “What’s the smallest step I can take towards approaching a girl right now?”
The answer to this is often to move towards a girl. It’s so simple it sounds stupid, but it works. You’re not thinking about what to say, you’re focused on the very next step towards approaching, which is to move towards a girl you see.
Now if you find yourself hesitating at this point (I.e. you walk towards her but then you change course before actually approaching her), ask yourself, “What’s the smallest step I can towards approaching a girl right now?”
At this point, the answer might be to wave at the girl or to say hi as you walk by. If that’s all you can do, that’s fine, just push yourself as close to approaching women as you can. If you can only wave at girls and say hi as they pass by, then do this until you build enough momentum that you can approach a girl wholeheartedly.
This technique is sometimes called chunking, you’re breaking down a difficult task into smaller, less threatening chunks so that you can make progress more effectively. You can do this for approaching women in whatever way works for you, but the above outline gives you a general blueprint for how this process works.
3. Use the Power of Persistence
“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”- Tony Robbins
Although the above strategies can usually help manage approach anxiety, sometimes the anxiety can be so overwhelming that it feels paralyzing. Sometimes, no matter what you do, you just won’t be able to trick yourself into approaching a certain girl, or even approaching at all on a certain day out.
If you’re having trouble getting yourself to approach women, it’s okay. This just means that you need to create more emotional leverage to force you to approach.
Sometimes the best way to accomplish this is simply to keep going out. Tony Robbins said, “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” The more you go out, but don’t approach, the more painful not approaching becomes. Each day, your hesitance will become increasingly frustrating.
Eventually, the pain of hesitating will become more severe than the pain of approaching, and you will snap to action.
Go out for at least 15 minute every day. Each consecutive day you go out, you will get more frustrated by your approach anxiety, until eventually you break through it. Once you do this, momentum will start to work in your favor, and approaching women will become increasingly effortless.
When I was nineteen, I had severe approach anxiety. One day, I went to my college campus to approach women. I spent hours coming up with excuses not to approach each girl I saw. By the end of the day, I still couldn’t approach a girl. But I went out the next day, and the next, until eventually the frustration of not approaching became so severe that I was able to push through my anxiety and introduce myself to women I didn’t know.
Going out every day may seem extreme, but it works. Besides, it doesn’t require a major time commitment, you can go out for just 15 minutes a day and reap the benefits of going out consistently. If you really want success with women, you’ll find the time.
This principle applies to any sticking point. If you’re able to approach consistently, but you have trouble getting girls’ numbers, each time you go out but don’t get a girl’s number, the more frustrating this sticking point will become. Until eventually, the pain of staying the same will become more painful than the pain of change, and you will break through that sticking point.
Approach anxiety doesn’t always have an easy solution, but if you face your fear and remember that eventually you will overcome the anxiety, then your fears won’t be able to stop you.
You might not be able to approach a girl the next time you go out. If that happens, go out the next day, and then the next, until the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.
This article is a section from The Seduction Blueprint
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