Approach distress is the less potent cousin of the Amygdala Hijack. Whilst the Amygdala Hijack- and the overwhelming inability to take action that comes with it- will disappear over time, approach distress will always be your buddy. I mean really, what are friends for?.
I have been regularly and consistently approaching beautiful women for over ten years now, and I have a mountain of success stories behind me (if I do say so myself). Yet I still feel a degree of distress at the thought of approaching unfamiliar women. I am not alone in this – all men connected to their emotions feel the same way.
As with Amygdala Hijack, what we can do is have strategies to reduce the anxiety and stop it from holding you back. Over time, approach distress will begin to turn into excited anticipation similar to what you’d feel before going on a scary theme park ride- butterflies in your tummy and all that. Once you come out of it alive at the other end, you feel pretty freakin’ amazing.
When we feel distress from the thought of approaching a beautiful lady, we may experience symptoms such as:
As we learned when we talked about Amygdala Hijack, these fears are a perfectly natural process. Approach distress symptoms vary depending on the way you learned to handle stress as you grew up. Some guys were lucky enough to learn about managing fear early on in their lives without ever having to work at it consciously. These guys are the ones that do well with women without receiving any attraction education. The rest of us haven’t learned lessons about dealing with fear effectively; or had the lessons we learnt overridden or destroyed by some traumatic event. Either way, what we need to do is teach our brains how to act effectively in spite of fear, and how to actually enjoy the process.
So how do we do this?
To give an example of how Systematic Desensitisation works, consider someone with a fear of spiders. Typically, the therapy starts off with the patient being asked to talk about spiders, thus forcing them to think about and visualize spiders. They are then asked to number their level of discomfort on a scale of 1 to 10- 1 being relaxed and 10 being trying to climb the walls in utter distress.
The patient is asked to continue talking about spiders until their fear has reduced to around a 2 or 3.
Once that happens, they are then exposed to photos of spiders and asked to rank their discomfort on a scale of 1 to 10 again. The patient keeps looking at photos of spiders and talks about them with the therapist until their anxiety goes down to a 2 or 3.
Then the patient would be placed at one end of a room, and at the other end would be a live spider locked in a glass case. Again the patient would rank their anxiety levels.
Each stage gets progressively more and more challenging until at the last level, where the patient holds a live spider and works to decrease their anxiety level down to a 2 or 3.
This is how Systematic Desensitisation works, and is widely accepted as a highly effective form of anxiety-reducing therapy. In fact it’s the most widely used solution for treating conditions such as phobias and other irrational fears.
Do you believe that a fear of approaching gorgeous women is a rational fear?
Of course it isn’t. In fact, an irrational fear is otherwise known as a phobia. The clinical term for fear of beautiful women is called Venustrophobia.
Now that you have been diagnosed (you’re welcome), you will be using Systematic Desensitization therapy on yourself until your anxiety levels drop down to a 2 or 3.
Before Joseph Wolpe developed Systematic Desensitisation, he was engaged in Desensitisation therapy. Obviously, this type of therapy had no systematic part to it. Joseph Wolpe took guys who had phobias of cars, put them in straightjackets and locked them down in his passenger seat. Then drove around until they became less hysterical. He also threw people into rooms full of snakes when they had snake phobias and bathtubs full of bugs if they were terrified of creepy crawlies. What he found was that this therapy was only effective for 30% of his patients. The rest maintained their phobias, and many (not surprisingly!) got much worse than before.
I mention desensitisation therapy here because it is common for guys to feel like they need to go out and launch themselves head on into a cheerleading squad no matter how scared they are. The best thing you can do is stop forcing yourself to make intimidating approaches, and take it back a notch until you become desensitised.
Here is an example of the systematic desensitisation process for treating Venustrophobes. Each stage must be worked through until you get your anxiety level down to a 2 or 3. In other words, each stage has to become boring to do before you move to the next step.
Approach a guy working in a store and ask him where the bathrooms are.
Approach a woman working in a store and ask her where the nearest bathrooms are.
Approach a girl in the street and ask her where the nearest McDonalds is.
Approach a girl in the street and ask her where the nearest McDonalds is, THEN ask her how her day is going.
And so on...Do not skip levels of desensitisation. We all like to think of ourselves as being at a higher level than we truly are. This is why I want you to start with the easiest level, even if it’s boring for you- then move up each level. You won’t know where you are if you start at an arbitrary level. This arbitrary level can be more difficult than expected and can create unnecessary trauma.
A few years ago I met Sir Mintslice, a Canadian professional hockey player, while he was holidaying in Sydney. We quickly became friends. As you can imagine, Sir Mintslice had no problems leveraging lovely ladies in Canada. And as a confident, good-looking man he tended to do well wherever he went.
We went out to the iconic Bondi Beach on a hot day together (it wasn’t a date I swear!). I went for a quick swim and when I came back, he pointed out this beautiful blonde maiden in a bright red bikini. He was practically frothing at the mouth and said she was the hottest woman he had seen in months. Half an hour went by and all he wanted to talk about was this girl. I asked why he didn’t go up and talk to her. He said ‘Man, I have to talk to her but I feel so nervous. Look at me, I’m shaking right now and I’m sweating like crazy’. Sure enough he showed me his hand, which was wobbling like a drunk tavern strumpet trying to walk in a straight line for the benefit of law enforcement.
What was he to do?
In the beginning approaching seems like the hardest part of attraction. Truth is you just make it hard for yourself.
Most of you that want to learn how to attract women are naturally introverted. If you knew me personally, you would struggle to believe that I myself am largely introverted. When I first started, I had a fair bit of chronic fear. The usual advice I would hear was ‘Just go approach, keep doing it and you’ll get over it...’ and the similar statement ‘Who cares what you say, just go talk to them’. These are rarely beneficial to anyone struggling with fear, as we have established that fear itself is irrational.
So what are the chief underlying insecurities holding us back when we have a fear of approaching a woman?
Not knowing what you’re going to say.
Looking like a sleaze-ball.
Not knowing what her friends are like.
Not knowing what her reaction will be.
Not knowing how to deal with an unexpected response.
Not knowing if you’re going to make a fool of yourself.
Not knowing, not knowing, not knowing...
With all the uncertainty, before even attempting to approach the following thoughts would race through my head at a million miles an hour.
How weird it is to talk to someone random.
How weird they’re going to think I am for coming over and talking to them.
How humiliated I’ll be when it goes pear shaped.
Sound familiar perhaps...?
When you first see a lady, what actually happens in your head?
In the first second, you think about how attractive she is.
In the following seconds you ask ‘Is she the type of woman I’ll get along with?’
The above two are based heavily on our internal biases. The sort of lady you find attractive is based on your internal partialities. This is based on a range of factors such as your experience, your habits, your beliefs, and the female influences in your life. As you can see it takes milliseconds to make a judgment about someone based on internal thinking habits.
This is because our brains are lazy and wired specifically to save time and effort. When we see something that looks suspiciously like a chair, we assume it has all the properties of most other chairs we know, such as the fact that if we plant our derrieres on it, it won’t fall apart. If we couldn’t make such assumptions about the world around us, we would forever be lost trying to test and re-test every chair we ever see, every pizza we ever look at, and every computer we ever try to turn on.
The human brain categorises things very quickly and efficiently. In general this system works incredibly well. But it can lead to a kind of informational blindness called ‘Confirmation Bias’. Confirmation bias is what occurs when you make your mind up about your opinion on something.
Take politics for example. If you vote for Political Party A, then you instantly become blind to anything good that Political Party B does, and instantly blind to most of the bad that Political Party A does. It isn’t something you do on purpose either, you literally don’t notice it.
So what does this mean?
So if you approach a woman who at first thinks ‘this guys is nice, but a bit wimpy for me, I think he’s more of a friend’, then you are really going to have to fight hard for her to notice that her first impression may have been wrong- as opposed to creating a first impression of ‘wow this guy is confident and knows what he wants’, where you will breeze through the entire interaction and really have to screw up badly to ruin it.
Knowing this does not mean that you simply have to give a great first impression because having a great first impression isn’t enough. In an initial meeting, you have five minutes to make your mark on a lady.
Here’s your breakdown of those five minutes.
Your first appearance gets you the first five seconds of her time.
Your first words get you the next thirty seconds of her time.
If those thirty seconds go well, you get another minute.
If this minute goes well, you get three minutes.
If those three minutes go well, you’ve got the rest of the initial meeting and you’re on easy street.
Each of these is called your Window of Opportunity. If you get the first impression right, you start off on the right foot, and even if you get a couple of things wrong, the lady is more inclined to forgive you. This is how we use confirmation bias to our advantage. The lady has already got a certain idea of what you’re like based on her first impression of you. All you need to do is make sure her first impression of you is very positive.
This is where state is vital. If you’ve demonstrated you’re confident, funny, happy and intelligent before you’ve even approached the lady, your chances of her being open and warm to you is very likely. Most women wouldn’t want to be caught dead checking out a guy, but their peripheral vision is much better than a man’s. So assume that lady has already seen you and that you’ve already made a first impression, as most likely, you have. Besides, this assumption forces you to keep your state in check at all times.
The first impression is your first window of opportunity and is the most important part of your interaction as it sets the tone for how well your initial meeting goes. Therefore in the beginning, keeping a positive state should get ninety percent of your attention and hard work.
So how do you get over the anxiety and learn to give a great first impression?
Accept that these fears are not rational. Other men are approaching, talking to random women, and getting lucky. Accept that all men have had these fears at some point in their dating lives and that you are no exception.
Any emotion that we fight and push away is only going to magnify over time. There is a lot of power in accepting that you’re willing to feel fear and act otherwise. In fact, doing so gives you the much needed boost to your self-esteem.
You smile when you’re happy and when you’re happy you smile. When you start to get anxious, your face and body language show how you feel and this affects not only your success rate with women but also your whole outlook on attracting women. A good strategy is to fake it till you make it. This is because your brain gets emotional cues from your body, therefore even a fake smile will make you feel happier.
Here are some ways to fake it:
These will help you move away from your negative feelings and start focusing on being present.
Approach distress and the dreaded Amygdala Hijack actually takes anywhere from five to ten seconds to kick in and one to five minutes to get into full swing. The easiest way to avoid this occurring is to do the task you are afraid of before your Emotional brain has a chance to ruin everything for you.
This is why you must approach within five seconds of you seeing a woman you like.
This can be very hard to get used to as most of us are conditioned to stop and consider all possible options and outcomes before acting. However thinking about outcomes will do us a lot more harm than good in social situations. The 5-Second Rule works by firstly circumventing the Amygdala Hijack and secondly, sidestepping any emotional hang-ups you have about being around beautiful women. It just doesn’t give you time to think about them, and that’s the beauty of it.
Approach the most intimidating girl first. I understand this sounds counterproductive (not to mention puts your underwear at risk from soiling), but this will set the tone for the whole outing. No woman will be as scary and intimidating as that gorgeous woman you approach first. Doing this gives you a huge energy rush and everything else you do that night will be perceived as easier in comparison, allowing you to relax and have fun with it.
When you leave your initial meeting with a lady, you’re in a higher energy state. The last thing you want to do is wait half an hour and let all your high energy disappear before approaching the next girl. Approach distress is likely to rear its ugly head when you wait too long and this can lead to the dreaded hijack. Never leave more than twenty minutes between saying hello to different girls. Twenty minutes is plenty of time to go to the bathroom, grab a drink of water and get to being social again.
We covered this already in an earlier chapter, but it’s an important strategy in dealing with hairy moments so I’ll mention it again.
Sir Profiterole’s first session was during the day. He started the day bouncing with excitement and made three approaches. These approaches weren’t terrible, as in he didn’t get rejected outright, but they didn’t go too well either. He hadn’t gotten any numbers or a lot of interest from the girls. He was beginning to lose it. I pointed out a cute Asian girl sitting under a tree reading and waited for him to approach. After standing and staring for about ten seconds he walked five steps towards her before abruptly turning around and coming straight back. ‘Sorry I freaked out on this one’ he mumbled.
Two minutes later, I pointed out a delicious blonde damsel eating a sandwich. I said ‘Approach her and ask her how her lunch is going.’ He looked at her for a second, and then looked at the ground. He said ‘D, I’m really struggling right now.’
I smiled and said ‘Forget about women for the next ten minutes. You’re not allowed to even think about women.’
‘Okay’ he said, bemused.
‘But promise me that after ten minutes, you’ll approach the next girl I see, and I’ll even tell you what to say so you don’t need to even think about it.’
Sir Profiterole nodded his head in grateful compliance. I held out my hand, looked him right in the eye and said ‘ A deal’s a deal’. He shook my hand.
I asked Sir Profiterole ‘What do you do for work?’
‘I’m in IT, I did engineering at university’.
‘Do you enjoy IT?’ I prodded.
‘I did before, but now it’s boring.’
He seemed very unhappy about his life.
‘Well that doesn’t sound like fun. What would you do if you could do anything in the world?’
‘Well I suppose I’d like to have a job where I get to be social and introduce people to people’ he said. ‘Like a recruiter. Or in events management or something like that’.
‘That’s interesting. Why?’
He said ‘Well I helped a life coaching company run a few events in college and I loved it. I got to meet new people, made heaps of friends and really enjoyed myself ’. He shared some interesting stories of his life in college and I could see his excitement rising, his eyes lighting up and his brain ticking with the idea of a potential career change.
I said ‘Sir Profiterole, you know what you need to do?’
‘There’s a really cute blonde sittZing right behind us. Go talk to her.’
He went in straight away and it was the best initial meeting anyone had that day. The passion and enthusiasm from my conversation with him came across in his conversation with the blonde. He was smiling, having fun and he even discussed his potential career change with her. Once he did that, his mood changed completely and his anxiety vanished like a politician’s money at a call girl convention.
Surround yourself with people that approach. If your Cohorts are regularly approaching, you will likely fall in line and do the same. As I mentioned in Chapter 2 (in the Sincere Seduction book) – you are the average of your environment. If your friends are regularly approaching and having a great time, you will also learn to approach and have a great time. If your friends are hanging out in the corner of the bar with drinks in their hands, wasting time and suffering approach distress, you will do the same.
By combining the strategies we learnt in Chapter 4 (in the Sincere Seduction book) with this chapter, you have some awesome ways to overcome approach distress and move away from the fear of approaching. Once you have worked on your positive state, it’s time to approach, just like Sir Mintslice eventually did that fateful day at Bondi Beach.
After half an hour he finally did get up to talk to the beauty on the beach in spite of his hands shaking. And it turned out very well for him. They spent the remainder of his time in Sydney together, and they are still good friends to this day. Pretty cool...