Overcome Approach Anxiety
I can’t count how many times I’ve seen an attractive girl and had an internal dialogue that went something like, “Should I just say hi? No, she’ll wonder why I’m talking to her. What can I talk about that’s situational, the music? No, that’s stupid. I could compliment her… But what if she doesn’t take the compliment well? Eh, honestly, she’s not really my type, she looks too stuck up. I’ll wait to find a girl who’s more my type.” Sound familiar? It’s totally normal to be anxious about talking to a girl, there’s nothing wrong with that. And hey, your anxious thoughts aren’t completely wrong, you might be a little awkward when you talk to her, it happens. But the only way to avoid awkward approaches is to buy a VR headset and go to town with 3d porn.
Look, approaching is hard sometimes, especially at first; a lot of guys never graduate from the rank of keyboard warrior. But you know what? The only way out, is through. Be prepared to embrace the suck.
But, to be fair the Nike (now hijacked by Shia Labeouf) mindset of “Just do it” is an oversimplification. There are strategies that can make approaching easier, and the best method if you want to make real progress in cold-approach is a logic-based, scientific strategy. Psychologists use a therapy called gradual exposure therapy (especially for social anxieties), and the tenets of exposure therapy apply perfectly to cold approach pickup. Gradual exposure asserts that, yes, the only way to overcome an anxiety is through facing it directly. The only way to overcome approach anxiety, ultimately, is to approach. But there’s an important nuance gradual exposure focuses on; you don’t start by fully exposing yourself to your fear. You take small steps towards it.
Mistakes Were Made
When I was sixteen, I had never cold approached a girl in my life, I decided to go to the mall to ask a girl for directions to start to face my social anxiety. But even this was too much for me at the time. I spent several hours wandering around the mall, thinking of getting rejected or laughed at. I hesitated dozens of times before making my way back home. I was so frustrated with this experience that I didn’t try cold approach again for months. I was trying to push myself too far outside of my comfort zone, and the anxiety was too much. It’s cool to tell yourself you can just will yourself past any anxiety or stress, but in my experience that’s not how it usually happens in real life.
The key to progress is to challenge yourself but not so much that you drive yourself into a full-on fight-or-flight mode. Even if you do approach in that state, you’re most likely going to interpret whatever happens as negative. I made this mistake with a friend of mine a while back, I tried to force him to approach even though he was extremely stressed already, he got pissed off and didn’t go out again for weeks, he still avoids the bar in which that happened.
A Journey of 1000 Lays Begins With A Single Step
You do need to push yourself, but simultaneously, know your limits. If you’re not causing yourself to feel a little bit stressed, you’re not challenging yourself, and you’re not going to make progress; but if you push yourself too hard, you’ll freeze. This is something you must learn to navigate (by the way, not just in game but in all areas of life), be aware when you’re pushing yourself too hard, and take a step back.
If you’re not regularly approaching women, don’t go out and challenge yourself to approach ten girls the first time you go out. If you get a lot of approach anxiety, your first goal can be to start smiling and make eye contact (just for a couple seconds, don’t stare) with girls. You don’t need to expect yourself to approach, just set a goal to smile and make eye contact with x number of girls when you go out. And keep this as your goal each day until you get comfortable with it. Hell, it might take you a week, but this is how you make real, sustainable progress.
Once you’re comfortable with making eye contact with girls, you can take it a bit further by waving at girls who walk by. Once that’s no longer challenging for you, you can set a goal to say hello to girls who walk by (without stopping them). Afterwards, you can start conversations by asking for directions (or some other random question that makes it easier to start a conversation). Once you’re comfortable with this, you can start introducing yourself directly.
Break your goal of overcoming approach anxiety into smaller, more manageable steps. Gradually expose yourself to your anxiety, it’s okay to accept that you’re not a godlike being with unlimited willpower. You are capable of changing and expanding your comfort zone, but the most effective approach is a step-by-step approach.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking I was above the process, telling myself that I could “Just Do It.” I would try so hard to force myself to take action when I didn’t want to. But this led to more stress than real results. I went to my local university campus one semester with a goal of approaching girls directly by saying the classic, “I thought you were cute and I had to say hi.”
I tried to approach between classes every day, sometimes I would spend an hour in hopes I would build up the courage to say the line to a girl. I hesitated time and time again. After two weeks of this, I decided to take it step-by-step. I started by saying hi to girls as they walked by, then I approached a girl indirectly asking for directions. I made progress step-by-step, then on the same day I started this, I approached a girl and finally said the line and it went well. I’ve been as bought into the “just do it” mindset as anyone, but I’ve found that taking small steps outside my comfort zone is far more effective than just trying to force it no matter what, and this has been a difficult and humbling lesson to learn.