Approach Anxiety: Getting Past Fear of Rejection

Fear of rejection, social anxiety, approach anxiety, or whatever else you want to call it, that feeling of fear you get when you approach women in a bar or club or wherever, is one thing that holds many guys back from success. There are plenty of guys out there who could be getting many more women than they currently do, if they could simply get past the anxiety they feel when initially approach women. If they could just skip that step and get into a conversational flow they’d be good. How does one get past these intense feelings of fear and anxiety in the heat of the moment? The prescription is quite straightforward, so in this post I’m going to break it down to the basics of getting past approach anxiety, so that talking to women is no longer a dreadful thing to experience. It does take some work but once things start to click you can have some amazing experiences.

Frame of Mind

The first step towards reducing approach anxiety comes by working on your own mind. The anxiety and fear stems from being so far in your own head that everything seems like a life or death situation, even though it is just a basic social interaction. In my own interpretation of these fears, I feel that I am at most selfish and eco-centric, when I am feeling this way. It sounds weird to put it like that. After all, the cause of your fear seems to stem from outside of you (the girl, the other people around). However, the fear stems from your own perception of the situation. When I feel approach anxiety, I know that my perception of the situation is completely self-absorbed.

There is a stage of life that people go through, often around their middle or high school years, in which they think that their own problems are the most important things in the world. There is very little awareness of the outside world and their role within it. This phase usually passes as a person matures and people begin to think outside of themselves. The problem is we can often slip back into this kind of thinking when we are put in certain situations and it becomes tough to see the forest from the trees. For instance, when we approach a woman who we do not know, in a club or bar, we feel like she will reject us and everyone will laugh (this can be a completely subconscious fear). Will that all actually happen? Probably not.

Still need more help with women? Try these:

***Read this free pdf guide to Breaking Up Like A man and then click here to get more info on the 10 Ways You Know that a Woman is attracted to you***

Rejection may or may not happen. It doesn’t matter either way, in the correct context, and only matters if your ego is in control and trying to protect itself. This means that if you place value on the outcome of the interaction, you will feel fear no matter what. If she reacts positively, you feel good. If she reacts negatively, you feel bad. Either way you are placing the way you feel about yourself in someone else’s hands, so of course your ego will want to protect itself, as there is no control over your sense of self.  In order to remove the dependence on outcome, you need to stop seeking validation from those external sources.

How I began to do this was to begin thinking about what my reality consisted of. I started to see perception as like looking through a microscope with different lenses. When I was fearful and seeking validation from others, it was like being zoomed in 1000x, and I was completely absorbed in myself and my societal conditioning. I couldn’t see the world around me because I was too zoomed in my own perceived problems. When I ‘change the lens’ and begin to look at my situation in a greater universal context and don’t place a judgment on it, I feel much more centered and the fear is simply not there.

In the zoomed out context, I see the world around me more clearly and I am less involved in my own narrative about my life. I start to understand that I am one of around seven billion people on this planet and my own interpretation of what rejection is isn’t that important. How many other people have experienced the same feelings that I have? So, what is all that unique about my situation? Nothing. Ego and feeling are simply taking over for rationality. If I talk to a girl, and she yells at me and tells me to go away, will people be talking about it in 5 years? 10 years? 500 years? Highly unlikely and if they are what does it really matter?

I also liked to contrast how I was feeling in different situations. I remember going camping when I was a kid and looking at all of the stars in the night sky. I was in awe of the beauty and how much more there was than just my life in the universe. Why could I feel this way in nature, but when I was older and went to a club, I felt complete anxiety because I wanted to have a conversation? The difference was my perception of the situations. In the first instance, I was completely in the moment and centered in my sense of self. In the second, I was projecting into the future (how she would reject me) and into the past (how other girls had rejected me, what other people had thought of me) and ignoring the moment.

Once I began to think really deeply on perception, and how it was screwing me up, things started to change. When I started to approach girls with this new mindset, I gave up on pursuing certain outcomes (making out, phone numbers, sex) and instead focused on expressing myself fully and exploring who she is. That’s it. Initially, I was still using a lot of ‘gaming’ techniques, but it became clear that it was incongruent with who I was. For instance, I would start having great conversations with girls and then try to do some pick-up technique and completely lose her interest. However, when I was expressing and exploring, I would get girls who would be completely into me within a short period of time.

I didn’t need to press her for sex because I viewed it as something that would simply happen. I am a man and she is a woman, we’re kind of built for that. I realized that the best game was to have no game. I became more open and stopped putting up fronts and as a result they began to do the same. The girl starts feeling safe to express her true self, thus becomes more comfortable, and thus becomes more attracted to you as a man. That’s it. That is what interaction looks like when social conditioning is cast aside. It really is that basic, if you can stop the anxiety, fear, and constant judging of situations, and just learn to be in the moment.

Here are some further posts that explore these ideas:

The moment your attention turns to the Now, you feel a presence, a stillness, a peace. You no longer depend on the future for fulfillment and satisfaction—you don’t look to it for salvation. Therefore, you are not attached to the results. Neither failure nor success has the power to change your inner state of being. You have found the life underneath your life situation. – Eckhart Tolle, Practicing the Power of Now

Frame of Reference

It is one thing to read about this kind of thinking but it is another thing to actually apply it to your day to day life. I know how difficult it can be. I still struggle with maintaining my more centered approach towards life and will often slip into the really socially conditioned frame of mind for weeks at a time, before pulling myself out of it. It’s hard to interact with a completely conditioned society and try not to fall into old habits, sort of like trying to lose weight but being surrounded by your favorite junk food constantly. The good news is that, I have gotten better at it by practicing more and more, and a lot of the beliefs I used to have about myself and my situation no longer exists in my mind. So, it is possible to shift into this mode of perception.

Reading books on philosophy, psychology, history, and the like has helped to shape my world view in a rather unique way. After 10 years of reading consistently, my brain and my behavior have continually evolved into new outlooks and viewpoints. This is a reason why I recommend reading on a daily basis so much, because it will completely flip how you think about and interact with the reality around you. It helps to open you up to new ideas and experiences. However, reading alone is often not enough to concretely change certain aspects of your reality, experience is a necessary ingredient to help break old conditioned patterns. This is especially true for those things where fear and anxiety tend to be the highest, such as public speaking or approaching women. In those situations, the understanding of a shift in consciousness has to be backed up by experience in order for it to truly take hold and run as a sort of default.

Simply put, if you want to get over approach anxiety you have to talk to women. This doesn’t mean you necessarily have to approach 1,000 random women in the street, though you could, but when you are in social situations such as a bar or club, you need to socialize and learn to interact without caring about how it turns out. You have to work on expressing yourself in a natural way that isn’t forced or a scripted part of your social mask. I wrote about this here, How to Talk to Girls at College Parties, and gave examples from my own life as sort of a demo of what I am talking about.

The cool thing is that you can begin to use a new perspective on reality in any situation in your day to day life and it translates over to talking to women. It’s sort of like shooting hoops in your driveway prepares you somewhat for running a full court game, you’re still not in game shape, but you might at least have a wicked jump shot. Recently, I have been interviewing for a bunch of new job opportunities, and I honestly felt more anxiety about those than I ever did trying to pick up chicks. Meanwhile, I have been experimenting with a more complete implementation of being more present in the moment and getting rid of social conditioning and it has helped tremendously in interviews. I find myself more relaxed, engaging, and aware of my behaviors in the moment, which has allowed me to garner better responses from employers while getting positive reinforcement that this perception of reality is the most beneficial for me…which means I’m more likely to run it as a default setting.

In order to break your conditioning and move past the intense feelings of anxiety and doubt, you have to push your boundaries and do what is uncomfortable and even painful. True growth lies on the edge of your comfort zone and hence that’s what you must approach in order to help shift your mind. Getting rid of this anxiety is like any other growth exercise, such as lifting weights, you aren’t going to gain more muscle by lifting 10 pounds forever and you won’t get any better with women by being too afraid to talk to them.

So, how do you go about reinforcing this new view on your reality? For me, the growth started before I had really gotten deeper into reading philosophy and whatnot. It started when I just got fed up with how things were going. I didn’t have a girlfriend in high school and felt like everyone else was passing me by (wasn’t as true as I thought, lots of guys are in the same boat). I felt as if I needed to rectify this and get some girls in my life, so that I could gain some experience and see exactly what I had been missing out on. I was drawing most of my confidence from making changes to my physical body (working out and dressing nicer) and started to notice some girls holding eye contact for longer and smiling at me…though I was still too much of a bitch to do anything about it.

Then, I started going out to bars and clubs, by myself most of the time, to force myself to confront my anxieties head on. Also, I started talking to more girls in my classes and develop some kind of ‘game’. You know what? I started getting better and better at it, which made me care less and less about getting rejected by a girl (it happened a lot). While I did get better, my confidence and sense of self was all over the place. Sometimes I’d be on a roll with women and feel like the man and then I’d hit a cold streak and felt rejected. Going through that period led me to believing that I needed to shift my perspective and to stop seeking external validation, which has helped to accelerate my results in every aspect of my life.

If I were starting from scratch again and needed to get past approach anxiety on the same level I had when I was younger, I would go about it a bit differently.  I would set it up as a daily program of sorts. I would read some relevant books for an hour a day and listen to audio on personal development while working out. Thus, I could be constantly bombarded with messages to reinforce the changes I want to make. Also, meditation helps to clear all of the negative thought patterns and puts me into a completely open and aware state of being.

Secondly, I would go into complete social overdrive. Talking to as many people as I could each day. A great trick for this is getting a job in face to face sales or in a call center that requires you to make 100 phone calls a day. At some point, talking to people becomes just an everyday occurrence. Also, joining social, athletic, or charitable groups will allow you to expand your social circle and get way more comfortable in talking to people without worrying about the outcome. Plus, there are always some cute girls around, that you can just get to know over a longer period of time. Then, whether you go out alone or with a group of people, when enjoying the nightlife, start conversations with as many people as you can. Focus on expressing your true self and not putting on a social mask, this will help to further stretch your comfort zone and break through all of that anxiety you may be feeling.

That’s really all it takes. You question where you fears are coming from, identify and become aware of those fears, explore a new way to perceive the world around you, and implement it by pushing your comfort zone and reinforcing your new outlook. Remember, that the outcome of your conversations with girls isn’t as important as exploring who she is and making yourself comfortable in expressing yourself fully. It took me months to start learning how to talk to girls and even when I had a few interested in me it was still a process to improve on all the things I was still lacking. Approach anxiety can be gotten rid of but it does require taking action on a consistent basis but doing so will open up your world to a great deal of new experiences.