How To Eliminate Approach Anxiety
You’re about to go and introduce yourself to someone, and you freeze. Your brain goes into overdrive, and you start to panic: What do I say? What will they think? What if I say the wrong thing? Will I end up embarrassing myself? This is a common phenomenon known as approach anxiety.
Approach anxiety is an irrational fear which can stop you from engaging in conversation with strangers. It causes you to overthink and therefore, fear most interactions. The root of the issue can stem from inexperience, low self-esteem, past negative experiences, or the overall inability to turn off the racing thoughts in our head. While approach anxiety is usually linked to relationships and the dating world, it can be applied to a large majority of social circumstances as well.
Why Do We Feel Approach Anxiety?
We must recognize that approach anxiety is a completely normal human response to a situation we deem to be high-pressured. It occurs when we overthink the potential outcome of an interaction and blow it out of proportion in our minds. The fear of the unknown is a great motivator to do and—in the case of approach anxiety—to not do certain things. Therefore, we are closing ourselves off to potentially life-changing connections by listening to the emotional side of our brain versus the rational one. We are hardwired to believe that first impressions are everything, even if that’s not necessarily true.
That puts a lot of pressure on us to respond in a way that we deem appropriate when first meeting someone, when in reality we have no idea what the other person would deem “the right way.” We are presenting ourselves to someone that we are interested in, so it makes sense that we want to show our best side. However, it is important to remember that anxiety about what might happen during these interactions is more likely cause your worst fear to come true.
Fortunately, approach anxiety is a self-created phenomenon. It is a psychological barrier which we have put in place. This means that because we’re the ones who created it, and the ones who can stop it. Psychological hurdles only become real if we allow them to. When we feel approach anxiety, our irrational brains are assuming the worst possible outcome of a situation. We are letting our insecurities, and our nervousness be the guiding narrators of our story.
As mentioned above, there are many reasons why we may feel this anxiety. Getting to the root of the anxiety will be an important step in eliminating this anxiety. If you are struggling with low self-esteem, it’s possible that the negative self-talk you’re engaging in is causing you to believe that you are not interesting enough, good looking enough, or worthy to form a connection with a love interest. You may have gone through a past relationship that ended poorly, and you struggle to realize that each interaction needs to be taken for what it is and not apply past situations to the present. Regardless of the reason, there are tangible skills that you can implement to address this issue so you can greatly reduce your approach anxiety.
Eliminating Approach Anxiety
Approach anxiety can be learned to be controlled through rational thinking. Before we go into a situation that might trigger this anxiety, we should ask ourselves what evidence we have that suggests this interaction will be terrible. For example, when we approach someone new, there’s a high chance that the other person welcomes our conversation. Think of a time a stranger approached you, whether it be for friendship, romantic, or professional purposes. You were probably happy to converse with that person. The worst-case scenario is that the person doesn’t connect with you and—while that can be difficult to accept—you also want to be with someone who is equally as interested in you as you are in them.
There also do not need to be any sort of expectations when you first meet someone. Being mindful and living in the moment can help you address your anxiety as well as manage your expectations. There is a lot of ‘advice’ out there which focuses on ‘removing’ approach anxiety as a psychological obstacle, but in reality, approach anxiety isn’t a problem. Approach anxiety will be a part of our lives for the duration—it can’t be ‘removed.’ We still feel nervous about things we’ve done thousands of times, and this is no different for starting conversations with new people. Being anxious isn’t a negative thing. It is simply an emotion that we feel. One might even argue that being nervous about something means that you care and can be viewed in a positive light. However, the behavior that we engage in as a result of our anxiety is what can become problematic.
When we feel approach anxiety, we are overestimating our value. The interaction which will take place between you and your chosen person will be just that—a brief interaction. When the interaction ceases, you and the other person will inevitably continue with your lives regardless of the outcome. If we pump up these interactions in our head, we’ll feel like they’re much more momentous than they are. While rejection doesn’t feel good, it can make us stronger to see that we can be okay and continue our lives in the unlikely event that our worst-case scenario happens.
Think about what exactly it is you’re doing when you approach a person. You have simply started a conversation with a stranger in an attempt to get to know them better. It is not a situation worth worrying over and it may be beneficial to put the potential interaction into perspective. Compare your interactions to problems people face such as poverty, illness, losing loved ones. While small talk may be difficult, it is a different type of concern than lasting difficulties such as those.
There are more reasons to converse with someone new than there are to avoid them. Once we realize our fears are unnecessary, it will allow us to become more confident in ourselves. Approach anxiety will undoubtedly rear its head from time to time, but understand that it’s perfectly normal and work around it instead of judging yourself harshly for not being able to “get over it.” When you first meet someone, they’re not rejecting you because they don’t even know you. Your value as a person is not based on a brief interaction that you have with someone.
If you have implemented these skills and still find that you are struggling with anxious thoughts when it comes to social situations, you may benefit from speaking to a licensed therapist who can work with you to develop a treatment plan to address this issue. BetterHelp is an online therapy platform that can provide you with a therapist who has experience working with clients who have dealt with similar issues.
Through working with a licensed online counselor from BetterHelp, you will be able to conveniently schedule therapy sessions and attend them from the comfort of your own home. Your counselor will be able to address any concerns you have about your personality and, if you wish, help you get to know yourself better.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Do You Approach A Girl?
Approach anxiety occurs when individuals are overcome with overwhelming feelings of nervousness when approaching women or men who are strangers on the street. This is usually because they are scared to interact with them or have a fear of rejection.
If you find that it’s hard to meet and talk to girls, here are some tips to overcome approach anxiety:
Try to make eye contact when walking past her and flash a smile at her; show that you’d like to be friendly
Once you have caught up to her or approached her, introduce yourself in some way. If you’re nervous, you can approach things more casually; for example, you might politely compliment her outfit, or ask a friendly question.
If she is responsive to you, ask her how she is doing and start building up the conversation
If she is uninterested, do not harass her—walk away. It can be hard to swallow rejection in the moment, but it helps to remember that it’s most likely nothing personal, especially if this is a person you don’t otherwise know.
How Do Women Overcome Anxiety?
While anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders, affecting 40 million people in the United States, research suggests the disorder affects women twice as much as men.
In fact, women between the ages of 10 to 18 are especially susceptible to developing the disorder during this time period. Therefore, if you are a young woman and are experiencing anxiety, here are some options that are available to you so that you can begin to start feeling better:
Start psychotherapy or talk therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy
Speak to your friends and family about what is causing you to feel anxious
Practice meditation and mindfulness
Journal your thoughts and feelings to get to the bottom of how you are feeling
Eat a healthy and balanced diet
What Do You Say When You Approach A Woman?
Many men do not know what to say when they approach a woman they are interested in. If you have a fear of rejection, and are looking for a way to improve your dating life, here’s some advice on how to eliminate approach anxiety:
Introduce yourself and ask her how she is doing or what she is up to
If she is receptive to speaking with you, ask her how her day is going, what her plans are for the rest of the day. If there’s a particular feature of hers that you find attractive aside from her appearance—for example, is she reading a book you enjoy?—this can be a good way to start an actual conversation
Start with small talk and then slowly build the conversation. If she is interested in you, she will likely continue the conversation. Be sure to be polite and respectful even if she doesn’t seem interested and put yourself in the shoes of the other person throughout your encounter.
It is good to ask open-ended questions such as “What brings you to the city?” rather than questions she can answer with a yes or no. The bottom line is that you want to keep the conversation flowing naturally.
What Should I Say To Someone Upon First Meeting?
Whether you’re a man or woman approaching any gender, you should always do what feels most comfortable and appropriate for you. Nonetheless, if you are looking to approach someone, here are some things to say to introduce yourself or initiate conversation casually:
“I noticed you, and I had to come introduce myself and say hi.”
“How is your day going?”
“I’m sorry to bother you, but I saw you from across the room and wanted to come and introduce myself.”
You might also start a conversation by bringing up a certain topic, telling a joke, or just giving a simple compliment. It helps to try and focus on why you want to talk to this person—what about them draws you to them? Always be sure to respect the boundaries of others no matter what.
What Do I Say In Response To A Girl?
When speaking with a girl and trying to demonstrate an interest in her, you must know how to keep the conversation going. If you're thinking about what to talk to girls about, here are some topics to keep the conversation flowing:
Ask her about her hobbies
Ask her what her favorite movie, book, or song is
Ask about her goals and dreams
Ask if she is in school
Ask her if she has ever traveled anywhere or wants to travel somewhere
Ask her about school or work
Ask her what she likes to do in her spare time
How Do I Approach A Beautiful Woman?
When you’re making a move to approach a beautiful woman, the best thing you can do is go up with a friendly demeanor, introduce yourself, and be respectful of any boundaries she has.
After introductions, you might find it helpful to have a few ideas of conversational topics in your head. If you’re struggling to come up with things organically, look for things you might have in common—did you meet at your favorite grocery store, for instance?
By this time, you should know if she is interested in talking to you by her body language and her answers to your questions. If she is uninterested, that is okay. Respect her wishes and don’t take it to heart.
How Do I Keep Her Interested?
If you are talking with a girl and you are trying to keep her interested, here are some things that will help:
Be creative and plan the date
Stay mysterious the right amount before having your first date to keep her guessing
Make sure to have excellent conversation and keep the conversation alive as possible
Always try and be polite; this can include small things such as opening the door for her, or it might include something more formal like offering to pay or split the bill.
Maintain personal space and boundaries
How Can You Make A Girl Laugh?
If you are trying to make a girl laugh, here are some things to keep in mind:
First, focus on making her smile. Pay attention to what she responds well to and what she doesn’t.
Relax as much as possible and don’t be afraid to be playful and laugh at yourself
Be as confident as you can without coming off as arrogant
Don’t use humor to be mean or offensive
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