Transmute Approach Anxiety Into Approach Excitement
If you think about it, the physiological symptoms of anxiety are almost exactly the same as the symptoms of excitement.
Both cause sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat, and a rush of adrenaline.
The only difference is that we experience anxiety when we think something bad is about to happen. In contrast, we experience excitement when we think something good is about to happen.
For one person, skydiving is exciting because it’s a chance to completely let go and experience something truly awe-inspiring.
For another person, skydiving is terrifying because it means plummeting through the sky and potentially dying.
Both people experience roughly the same physiological symptoms, but their definitions of what those symptoms mean are totally different. One person is having a peak experience, the other is having the opposite.
The belief that an experience is exciting or stressful isn’t objective, it is based on your beliefs. Because of this, you can teach yourself to see reframe something that causes you anxiety as being exciting. What was once a negative experience can become a positive experience.
Harvard psychologists ran an experiment in which they put participants into an anxiety-provoking situation: they had to give a karaoke performance in front of an audience.
Participants were split into two groups: one whose members were instructed to tell themselves, “I am anxious.” And another whose members were instructed to tell themselves, “I am excited.”
Although this might sound like a ridiculous idea, the results were stunning, “The ‘excited’ participants not only felt more excited, but they also sang better, according to a computerized measurement of volume and pitch.”
So, the simplest strategy you can use to reduce approach anxiety is simply to tell yourself, “I am excited.” The effect isn’t profound at first, but it can gently nudge your anxiety into a more positive experience, and if you practice this over time, your belief that you have approach anxiety will be replaced with the much more helpful belief that you have approach excitement.
Use Gradual Exposure
Gradual exposure (or ‘systematic desensitization’) is a proven therapy technique designed to help people overcome anxiety.
Anxiety is an emotion that makes people want to avoid certain experiences. For instance, I used to have severe panic attacks that were triggered by doing anything that raised my heart-rate (like going to the gym) because I feared I would have a heart attack (my father died suddenly and I thought the same would happen to me).
Unfortunately, the more you avoid something, the more intense your anxiety towards doing it will become.
The more I avoided working out, the more control my anxiety had over my life. At first, I just didn’t want to go to the gym, but then I avoided walking long distances, and eventually, I was spending most of my time in my room.
Because of the way anxiety works, the only way to truly overcome it is to do whatever it is that causes you anxiety.
In my case, I started going to the gym even though it made me anxious. It was extremely uncomfortable at first, but every time I went, I was giving myself evidence that my fear of having a heart attack was unfounded: nothing bad happened to me.
But I didn’t start with intense, hour-long workouts, that would have triggered a panic attack. Instead, I started small, with 15-minute workouts in which I didn’t really push myself to my limit. And then each week, I built on this until I was able to exercise to the point of exhaustion without much anxiety.
The same strategy applies to approach anxiety. The only way to truly overcome approach anxiety is to face it head-on. Every time you approach a girl, you’ll have a piece of evidence that nothing bad will happen to you – your anxiety was unfounded.
However, if you’ve never approached a girl (or at least haven’t done so recently), doing your first approach might be like an hour-long gym session would have been for me at first: too overwhelming.
If you have been reading about pickup for a while, but you haven’t actually gotten out of the house, it’s probably because (on an unconscious level) the idea of going out and approaching women sounds like too big of a leap for you.
So, instead, you can take some of the pressure off of yourself by gradually exposing yourself to situations that provoke approach anxiety.
If you expect yourself to walk up to a girl, tell her she’s cute, and walk away with her number, that’s a lot of pressure you’re putting yourself under.
What if instead, your goal was just to walk up to a girl and ask her for directions to somewhere good to eat nearby? And after saying that, you’re allowed to walk away.
That would be a lot less anxiety-provoking for most guys. Expecting yourself to approach directly and keep a conversation going while also walking away with a girl’s number is a tall order (if you’re not approaching women regularly). But going up to a girl and asking directions without having to keep the conversation going isn’t nearly as difficult.
One of the biggest keys here is to give yourself permission to walk away after you say your first sentence to a girl. If she responds positively and you want to keep talking, go for it. But if you don’t feel able to keep it going, it’s fine to leave.
If you don’t like the idea of asking for directions, you can also open with an indirect compliment like, “Hey, I just wanted to say I like your shoes/backpack/etc.”
Here’s a video example of myself coaching someone to use this principle in real life:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhmTUyDZc6M
Once you’ve done a few approaches like this, you can gradually increase the challenge by approaching with a more direct compliment (I.E. “Hey, I thought you were cute and I had to say hi.”) Alternatively, you can push yourself to keep the conversation going past the introduction.
It’s important to note that the more approaches you do in a single session, the more your approach anxiety will dissipate. If you do one approach, the second will be easier than the first. But if you get to, say, 10 approaches, your approach anxiety will completely disappear.
The approach anxiety won’t be gone forever, but not that you have a reference experience in which you overcome it, the anxiety will have much less power over you in the future.
Harness The Power of Persistence
Approach anxiety is something that builds up in our heads over the course of many years. You’ve probably seen thousands of attractive women you wanted to approach. Yet, if you’re like most guys, you’ve only actually walked up to girls a handful of times (if that).
Basically, over the years, the resistance to approaching women builds up. Despite this, guys who go out for the first time in their entire lives expect that they’ll be able to do 5, 10, or even more approaches. And if they’re unable to do so, they feel like they failed.
That’s kind of like expecting yourself to curl 60lbs the first time you ever go to the gym.
When you have inflated expectations and you don’t meet them, you end up disappointed in yourself, and over time, this can easily become burnout. Instead, you should lower your bar for success so that it’s something you can definitely do.
You might not be able to do any approaches the first time you go out to approach women. That’s okay, that’s not a failure. The only failure is staying in the house and not even trying. So long as you go out with the intention of doing approaches, you’re making progress.
There’s a quote by Tony Robbins, “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”
See, every time you go out and try to approach women, your frustration with the fact that you’re having trouble approaching will increase: the pain of staying the same is becoming greater.
Eventually, if you shove yourself into situations where you know you should be approaching (daygame/nightgame sessions), the pain of not approaching will become greater than the pain of approaching. You will become so frustrated with your own inaction that you will eventually just say, “F**k this.” And then you will start approaching.
This might only take 30 minutes, this might take two weeks (that’s how long it took for me the first time). Either way, if you barrel through the initial resistance you experience about approaching, you will eventually overcome it.
Now, to be clear, this only works if you’re going out with the intention of approaching. If you’re just out shopping, you won’t make this shift because it’s your intention that matters. You must tell yourself that you should be approaching and walk around a venue where there are women to approach.
Commit to going out and approaching consistently until you’re able to overcome approach anxiety. Understand that it may take considerable effort to start approaching, but it’s worth it, and when you finally start approaching women, you will feel like a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders.
The harsh truth is this: the majority of guys who read about pickup are not going out and approaching women at all.
Many have never approached a woman. We all have different explanations, but the underlying reason we don’t approach is fear: fear that we will be labeled a creep, fear that we will be harshly rejected, fear that no women we approach will be attracted to us.
So, we avoid our fears by rationalizing some explanation that we’re not approaching: we’re not in good enough shape, we don’t make enough money, our country doesn’t have the kind of women that want to be approached. But underneath these thoughts is emotional resistance to doing something uncomfortable.
And we allow this resistance to get in our way and prevent us from doing what we really want to do (meet beautiful women). Fortunately, with a good strategy, you can overcome those uncomfortable emotions, you can take control of your life.
The three strategies you learned in this article are the best solutions to approach anxiety I have encountered. And I’m speaking as someone who used to get panic attacks just by going to the mall. I can l most guarantee you that my approach anxiety was worse than yours. If I could overcome it, so can you.