Approach Anxiety and Drinking
Last year Doug wrote an article on approach anxiety called How to Feel Drunk Without Alcohol. It’s always had really good traffic and we’re always getting e-mails asking us to expand on the ideas. So I thought today I’d give my take.
Doug’s post was very much a “how to” – it had some great tips from his own experiences of approaching women as a non-drinker. Now I like a few beers on a night out, so I’m going to have to take a more theoretical approach to busting this aspect of approach anxiety.
I want to look at this idea from the perspective of imitating the “Disinhibition Effect” that alcohol offers.
The Disinhibition Effect and Drinking
We’re all born with differing levels of inhibitions. Having inhibitions is basically a good thing – it keeps us healthy and safe. But they can also get in the way of a good social life if you let them.
Now there are a couple of different ways of getting round the inhibitions that can lead to approach anxiety. The simplest way is to drink alcohol. Alcohol reduces inhibitions and so makes you feel more confident, braver and less concerned with consequences.
It also, of course, causes a lot of problems. I don’t need to go into them here. You know them already, and anyway this post isn’t about drinking – it’s about NOT drinking. So let’s move onto ways of overcoming approach anxiety that don’t require a drink.
Disinhibition and Anonymity
The other way to overcome inhibition / approach anxiety is to feel anonymous.
Scientists have discovered that we feel far fewer inhibitions when we feel anonymous. I suppose it makes sense – it’s much easier to give out a confident, fearless persona if there’s no risk of “failure” that can be linked to your name or face.
It’s no wonder that people are braver online, hiding behind a screen name or “avatar”. It’s definitely easier to approach girls when you’re doing online dating than it is out on the street.
And it’s no wonder that masked balls and fancy dress parties are so popular; even a Zorro-style mask over your eyes makes you feel much braver and less inhibited. If you do something “stupid”… well it wasn’t you was it? It was Zorro, or Darth Vader, or George Smiley or whoever.
Now these options aren’t always available to you if you spot a girl you like. There’s hardly time to neck a beer, rush home to see if she’s online or pull on an Indiana Jones costume. So here are a few ideas to help loosen you up and take the pressure of a public approach.
4 Tips for Feeling Disinhibited Without Drinking
1. Give yourself a nickname. Try imagining yourself as an alter-ego version of the real you. To make the separation easier to keep a handle on, give yourself a nickname. This is the side of you with no fear of new people or strange places. Be yourself, but be the confident “Nick” to your “Nicholas” that’s been having trouble approaching girls.
2. Imagine you’re someone else. Imagine you’re an actor in a film about a guy who approaches loads of women really confidently. Or imagine you’re a man on a mission to approach girls that no one else knows about. Either way, by allowing yourself to pretend for a minute that the scenario is “make believe”, you’ll feel less pressure on the results.
3. Imagine you’re just doing some research. Pretend for a minute that you’re an investigative journalist tracking a story on how to approach the opposite sex. Or perhaps you’re a scientist testing a hypothesis to see what type of approach works best. This way you can’t have a “success” or a “failure”: you’re just out to “see what happens” and every outcome, every data point, is useful.
4. Imagine you’re a teacher. Imagine a friend has asked you for some help. He wants you to show him that it’s possible to approach girls. He doesn’t care if you’re any good; he just wants to see it happen in front of his eyes before he tries it himself. Put yourself in the position of someone who’s already good, and you’ll feel your approach anxiety melt away.
Whichever trick you try, the number one thing to remember is that, at the end of the day, the guy approaching the girl is still you. He’s the more confident and outgoing version of you, and he’s got his approach anxiety handled, but he’s still you.