Let’s be honest, all of us has given up hundreds, if not thousands of opportunities to talk to that beautiful girl that walks past us while on the way to work or while making our way to meet up with friends. Even when you made a decision to go up to talk to that beautiful stranger, your stomach churns, your heart beats faster and you’re almost always left dumbfounded, unable to utter a single word, much less move your feet to go up to talk to her.
I’m no stranger the feeling called approach anxiety. These days, I have effectively cold approached girls in Singapore, all around the world, in shopping malls, nightclubs, parties and social events. Up to this day, I still get that crippling feeling of taking my feet off the floor, pointing it at her direction and walking up to her.
However, compared to many, I have gotten a lot more competent at it. So how you actually get over your approach anxiety and become socially fearless?
Step 1: Come up with Your List of Excuses
Here’s a good social experiment to try out: go out into a public area, preferably alone and watch all the kinds of excuses you tell yourself when you come across a beautiful stranger. You’ll find yourself coming up with your own inner monologue, your own judgment of others and your own judgment of yourself.
When you’re going against your fears, you’re bound to fight against your own psychological defence system. They are called psychological defence mechanisms. Here are some common defence mechanisms you tell yourself.
- Avoidance and Procrastination
“I am going to start on this girls thing tomorrow. I’m just not feeling it today.”
“I am going to starting hit the clubs next week.”
“I don’t feel like it today.”
There was once I was practising to approach at the mall and tons of excuses and defences popped up. First I told myself I was tired and had to grab a meal first, then a sweet drink and yadda yadda. I didn’t do any approaches for the first half an hour. I spent the time, eating, drinking and waiting around. It was only when I started paying attention to the monologue in my head that was able to start calling myself out on the excuses that popped out.
Here’s the truth: There’s no perfect night and no perfect mood to approach. Just because something feels absolutely terrible in a certain moment does not mean that it is. It’s only when you get your butt off and start approaching that you feel much better. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve felt horrible and not wanting to get out of the house and then feeling much better after stepping out.
The self-help, dating advice industry is notorious for this. If you consume dating advice and watch videos without taking any action, you’re intellectualizing your problems. I used to do this a lot when I first start out where I would just read, read and read some more. Overloading myself with one theory after another.It’s also a false trap. That’s because reading and watching videos make you feel like you’re doing something. However, it does not.
‘I genuinely don’t care and it doesn’t bother me.’
If you’re watching porn and telling yourself that you don’t give a fuck about your sex life, you’re running into apathy. You end up convincing yourself that you don’t care about your dating life. Truth is, I do care about my relationships. I know for sure, I was there. This bled over to my school, life and all other areas in my life. It’s something I’ve had to fight against for the last 3-4 years of my life. It’s a defence mechanism I run into sometimes, especially when I’m busy with work even up till today.
- Helplessness and Surrender
‘I just suck at this.’
‘I’ll never get good at this’.
I found myself running into this defence mechanism sometimes. I get too anxious and then I surrender to the anxiety and just admit that: ‘I suck and have no courage.’
This is the opposite of apathy. Caring too much and acknowledging that you’re powerless to taking action against the anxiety.
- Blame and Anger
This defence mechanism mostly comes in the form of generalizing and stereotyping chunks of the human population. When I first started out going out to approach girls I told myself that pick up artist approach thingy only works in Westernized cultures. That it’ll never work for Singaporean girls. Singaporean girls are too materialistic, socially retarded, bitchy and emotionally immature.
Here’s the truth: we always think that the world is screwed up and it is not our fault, this, of course, it rarely is that way.
Step 2: Start Small – Progressive Desensitization Technique
Okay, now that you’re done picking out your defence mechanisms, aka, your own bullshit. You can work your way through your approach anxiety through the progressive desensitization technique. I use this technique on myself and multiple other clients.
Progressive desensitization is a psychologically researched technique that is used to help people overcome their anxieties in a step by step manner. Compare this to the flooding technique where most dating coaches force students to approach 20 hot girls in one night at a go. Firstly, it isn’t sustainable. Secondly, you’re not building a sustainable habit.
Okay, here’s an example on how to use progressive desensitization:
Step 1: Remove Headphones in Public and Being more Socially Connected
Firstly, you can remove your headphones when going about your day. I removed my headphones and was shocked at how much difference it made how connected I felt to the social world. You should try it. This forces you to be much more socially engaged with the outside world.
Step 2: Ask For Time and Directions from Strangers
If you’re crippled by approach anxiety, you can start off with total strangers and then work your way from guys, non-threatening girls and then attractive girls. You can also start off by asking for time or directions, moving up to compliments and then eventually the direct approach. You get the idea.
Step 3: Making Small Observations and Compliments
Small observations and compliments can be stacked on top of asking for time and directions from strangers. When you add a compliment:”that’s a nice shoe, you look great in it” in your conversations with random strangers, you’ll not only make their day, but it’ll put you in a better social mood when you get positive social feedback.
You’ll be surprised how much just stopping strangers to ask for time and directions will help in getting the social juices flowing.
Step 3: Take The Minimum Viable Action
One tool I find helpful when I find myself stuck when approaching is called the minimum viable action. It’s the one action that you can do than the direct approach itself. Challenge yourself to approach her minimally for time and directions.
This not only gets you comfortable stopping attractive girl, it’ll also blast through your bullshit and help you get in a more social mood. That’s because you don’t have to approach her directly right? There’s no excuse to simply ask for time or directions.
Step 4: Create an Environment of Inevitable Success
Lastly, you’ll need to create an environment of inevitable success. You need to use your surrounding for leverage. The only reason why I bothered to take action in my dating life back then because my ex-girlfriend broke my heart. I had so much leverage on me, that not taking action wasn’t an option.
In my entrepreneurial career, I feared doing something I hate, getting bossed around by someone that I didn’t respect and serving clients that didn’t enjoy serving. I hated all of that so much that publishing long-form guides, editing and blogging to promote myself as dating coach on a daily basis became effortless to me.
In your dating life, what kind of leverage can you use? For me, some of them include deleting all online dating applications. Today, I don’t use Tinder or any of the online dating applications. I don’t hang out with people I don’t like just so hopefully they can introduce me to their girlfriends. I don’t do any of that. I run this business alone. I do not have colleagues, friends of friends that ‘hopefully’ fall through the cracks so that I get to know them.
This is why I have leverage. I have no alternative and created an environment of inevitable success.