Overcoming Approach Anxiety
Thursday, 30 December 2010
There’s this thing called approach anxiety, and I haven’t talked about it all that much, because it was never a huge concern for me personally, and it was always something I was able to push through okay on my own. Sure, sometimes I’d stiffen up and miss out on a girl I should’ve had, but all in all it was never too bad for me. I had a lot of fears as a kid, and got into the habit early of overcoming them by confronting them head on; this might be why I was never overly concerned with this one. I just tackled it the same as the rest of them.
But for some guys, approach anxiety is crippling. I’ve coached men who would at times simply refuse to approach women; I eventually got pretty good at getting guys to approach, even when they were terrified to (the first few approaches are always the toughest), but how does a guy who’s shaken about going up to meet women do that on his own, without a coach there to work him through it?
I could tell you about the mentalities of a man who approaches women without fear – that they’re just girls to him, that it’s all a numbers game about talking to lots of girls, that he’s confident in his success, that he’s more interested in the opportunity to get to know a pretty girl than he is the risk of being shot down, and that being shot down for him is basically just something he laughs about, if it even registers at all. But mentalities are a tough thing to change, and yours will change to these over time as you get more experience and more exposure and meeting women becomes fun instead of a chore or intimidating.
Rather than discuss mentalities, I think it’s better to just give you some practical steps to work on to overcome approach anxiety and get yourself meeting new girls as soon as possible.
Making a Commitment
When I first began lifting weights back in high school, I read a book called Body-for-LIFE by a guy named Bill Phillips. There was a section in the book where Bill talked about the first 12 weeks of exercising; that during those first 12 weeks, you will want to quit, you will want to cancel your scheduled exercise session, and try to tell yourself you’d do it tomorrow or the next day. But you couldn’t; you simply had to push through those first 12 weeks, or you’d never make it. To be successful in building your body for life, you needed to endure. And after those 12 weeks were over, you’d be used to it, it wouldn’t be a big deal anymore, and exercise would simply be a part of your life and a routine that you stuck to.
Well, Bill was right. Those first 12 weeks back when I was 16 years old were incredibly tough. I’d be tired, and start dreading having to go and spend an hour lifting really heavy hunks of metal up and down, over and over again. Every set was a pain to endure – each one I’d feel like there would be no way I could finish. Sometimes I’d miss a workout, and I’d force myself to exercise the next day, instead. But it was brutal, and I never wanted to do it, and I hated doing it.
Then, after those first 12 weeks had passed, I realized that, hey, exercise didn’t seem quite as dreadful anymore as it originally did. I’d gotten used to it and it’d just become something I did.
And eventually, farther down the road, I actually came to enjoy lifting weights. I never would’ve believed it when I first started out, but I came to take pleasure and pride out of my discipline, the body I’d shaped for myself, and the feeling of working on myself in a way that was making myself better for the future.
Actively approaching women is like that – you must commit yourself to making it through those first 12 weeks. It’s one of the toughest, most intimidating things you can do for most guys – but it’s also going to be one of the most rewarding. If you want women in your life, you need to go out and get them. They aren’t going to come to you; it doesn’t work that way.
I hear from guys all the time who tell me, “I really want to get started in this, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.” It doesn’t take much time, though. You can spend 6 hours meeting women a week – that’s 3 hours on a Friday night at a local bar or nightclub, and another 3 hours Saturday afternoon or night, or Sunday afternoon at the big shopping mall or bookstore nearby – and see steady improvement.
When I first made a commitment to make approaching new women a much more regular part of my life, after having done it sporadically for a year, I started going out typically 3 to 4 nights a week to socialize and meet women, and I was also trying to meet at least a few girls a week during the day as well. And let me tell you, those first 12 weeks were very hard, and very emotionally draining. I’d come home feeling like a failure for not having had the kind of success I wanted, or like a champion for having achieved some new milestone – my first makeout in a nightclub, for instance.
12 weeks in though, it stopped seeming like such a big deal, and more like something I just did. It became a lot less difficult to drag myself out of the house and go to a nightclub by myself, and approaching women to talk to felt a lot less scary.
You must make a commitment to go out and meet women. You must promise yourself you’ll do it, and you must hold yourself to that promise. Otherwise, time will just tick by and nothing will happen.
Acclimating to Approaching
Once you’re going out actively, the major hurdle you’ll have to overcome is approach anxiety. Overcoming approach anxiety is a little difficult because, well, you’re facing a fear. But that in and of itself gives you a tactic you can use to make things easier.
When you recognize yourself hesitating, I recommend you tell yourself that you’re going to overcome this fear, and that the only way you’re going to do so is by confronting it head on. Then, go confront it. Defiantly confronting your fear can feel far more rewarding than going up to talk to some random girl you don’t even know early on purely for the sake of it. It gives you a mission; you’re not just meeting girls – you’re overcoming your fears and becoming a stronger, more able man.
Later on down the road, once the fear is no longer an issue, you will be able to approach women simply because you want to and you think they’re pretty and you want to get to know them. So long as approach anxiety remains an issue for you, though, you must get in the habit of getting a little annoyed at yourself for feeling that way, then taking action to get rid of the feeling.
The only way you get rid of approach anxiety is by approaching.
With time, your brain realizes that getting turned down by girls isn’t so bad. Your reputation doesn’t get destroyed; your family doesn’t disown you; you’re not incapable of ever meeting another woman again because that girl you stopped once on the street paid you no mind. You start to realize that there are virtually no long-term negative consequences to not succeeding with a woman – but tons of lessons. Every failure, if accurately assessed, helps you get better and more successful the next time around.
To get yourself acclimating to approaching, I recommend you follow the following steps:
- Get a routine. If you don’t have a routine yet, or specific venues you really like going and feel comfortable meeting women in, check out the free Girls Chase eBook Finding Your Niche. You need to build meeting women into being a routine for yourself, and particularly early on, it can be a lot easier once you’ve done some exploring and figured out where your favorite places to meet new women are. Once you know them, set certain times of the week aside as your times exclusively to go out and meet women – schedule it into your life, and make sure you’re dressed, ready, and on time for your outings.
- Set goals. Goal setting helped me a great deal early on: setting small, achievable goals to go out and accomplish. When I first started, I had goals like, “Talk to three random girls,” and I was not allowed to go home until I’d accomplished them. Next I added goals like, “Use more screening and qualifying,” and, “Use more playful banter,” then goals like, “Kiss one girl,” and, “Invite two girls home.” Goals like this will force you to learn, be active, and get yourself in motion. Choose goals that feel challenging for you and are close to the limit of what you’re currently capable of, but that also feel achievable. You want to be moving in small steps – obviously, “Take a girl home tonight,” is going to be overly ambitious if you’re still just getting used to meeting new women. Keep your goals achievable, and you’ll challenge yourself to consistently improve.
- Track your progress. Also helpful to me early on was progress tracking. I put together a spreadsheet tracking how many nights I went out, how many phone numbers I got, how many first dates I went on, how many new girls I kissed, and how many new girls I slept with, and I even set it up to have a chart that automatically updated as I updated the chart. It basically made me start competing with myself – I wanted to be performing at a higher level than the month before, which meant I had to work harder and get more done. Sometimes I’d be about to just stay in, and I’d take a look at that chart and get annoyed at myself for being about to fall behind, and I’d go out anyway. Which brings us to the final point:
- Go out even when you don’t want to. This is a topic that’s probably deserving of its own post outright. Nights you don’t want to go out but go out regardless can sometimes be the best nights you have. Two of the greatest girlfriends of my life I met on nights I almost didn’t go out because I didn’t feel like it. You will sometimes learn more on days and nights you don’t want to go out than you will on nights you do, because you’re in a more thoughtful mood and not flying on an excitement-fueled autopilot like you tend to be during the times you really want to go out. This is why routines and motivators like progress tracking are so important – you need to be going out regardless how you feel. Oh, whoops, that actually wasn’t the final point – there’s one more:
- Approach and meet women. You have to do it. Get started early in the night and build some social momentum and you’ll be fine. But if you want to overcome approach anxiety, the way you’re going to do it is by approaching women, no two ways about it.
I wish I could say there was an easy way to get rid of fear, but there isn’t (well, not entirely true – a shot of lidocaine into your cerebellum might do the trick, but for practical / safety reasons let’s assume you’re not going to be taking any injections into your brain before going out to meet women). There’s only one sure-fire way to beat a fear: confronting it. It works, and if you have a fear you don’t like and don’t want, confronting it is what you need to do to rid yourself of it.
The great news is, once the fear of meeting women is gone from you, it never really comes back in full force so long as you continue meeting women at least every once in a while. You might hesitate a split second, but only until that voice in your head kicks in and tells you, “Whoa, what are you doing? Just go talk to her.” Yep – after a while, instead of trying to talk you out of meeting women, eventually that voice starts trying to talk you into it. Funny how that works, huh?
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