By Jon Sinn
I've been doing a lot of reading on psychology and spirituality recently and I've developed an idea that's reduced my approach anxiety by about 90%.
The idea is surrendering to the moment.
I've never really bought into the idea that approach anxiety is hardwired into us. My thinking behind this comes from experience rather than theorizing.
As far as approach anxiety, after you've done about three approaches in a night it's usually gone. I've also met guys like Debonair Dave who don't experience the phenomenon at all. So, I've been actively looking at the reasons behind this anxiety, and it brings us back to surrendering.
To me, approach anxiety has always felt like a fight between wanting to get the girl and wanting to avoid embarrassment (a few years ago) or wanting to avoid doing a lot of work (more recently). So there were clearly two conflicting drives.
In "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle, the author talks about letting go of both the past and the future and focusing purely on the present. This simple piece of advice alone reduced my anxiety considerably. If you truly do let go of the past, you will be unable to think about past failures. You can't think about your lack of success with women up to this point or all the reasons not to approach a woman, because none of that is occurring here and now. Here and now you have nothing but the moment.
In a bar, club, or on the street - or wherever you are - when you do the approach you only have the present moment. Nothing else matters. Her reaction is in the future, so there is no reason to worry about it. When you are in the field you need to be hyper-focused on the present. Don't think. Follow the strongest desire you have.
If you are reading this, then the strongest desire you have is to meet and have sex with new women. Don't be ashamed of this desire. It's the only desire that keeps us surviving as a species. A lot of guys hide their desires. A quick caveat here, don't approach a girl and ask her if she wants to have sex. That's not showing your desires, it's just showing your lack of social intuition. What I'm saying here is don't hide your desires internally. A vital step in becoming a man is to come to grips with the dark sides of your desires - mainly your desires to sleep with women, kill, and dominate. These are natural human emotions that have shaped the world. In a way, they are the only desires that actually matter.
The second part of my technique is to surrender to your feelings. Stop fighting them. Accept that you feel approach anxiety at the same time you feel the desire to approach. Stop trying to feel more confident, stronger or more prepared. Start focusing on what you want to do right now. In this moment, when you see that woman, what do you most want to do (that won't land you in jail)?
All that fighting in your mind, all that clutter, has nothing to do with reality. The present is all you have and, as it was said so well in Fight Club, "This is your life and it's ending one minute at a time." You can't do anything to change the past and the opportunity to change the future occurs in the present.
So, after you have come to the realization that the present is all we have and surrender to the fight between your emotions, you gain the power to approach almost without fear.
I think the final step to approach anxiety reduction is to let go of your outcome. The outcome is in the future and it's completely unimportant in the present.
Tony Robbins calls acting in the moment "getting out of your head and into your heart." I think it's more about gaining an element of control over yourself and not letting thinking or "the mind" get in the way of action. Action is what produces results, not thinking. Thinking without acting has never produced anything. Even philosophy led to the action of writing which is what produced the records of these thoughts.
So how do you actually start on the road to getting out of your head and acting?
The first step is to become aware of what you are feeling at any given moment. Reduce the amount of white noise in your head by shutting off the deductive thought process and focusing on bodily sensations. What do you feel right now from your head to your toes? Feel that and then slowly start taking assessment of your mood.
When you can start to identify your mood through feeling, rather than thinking, you are on your way to being fully present in the moment which allows you to act without filtering.