Avoiding Fear At All Costs

by Eric Disco
Oct 22

I step onto the train after a long day’s work.

I purposefully did not wear my headphones today because it tends to be anti-social and there’s no way I’ll speak to someone while wearing headphones.

I may not speak to anyone anyway.

But I plan to. I want to talk to people. Particularly this girl sitting next to me on the train.

I have no approach anxiety. The fear seems to be gone.

Yet I still don’t speak to her. Why?

It seems inappropriate. Logically I don’t care what other people think.

But I’m just not in the mood to be embarrassed, I tell myself.

Why don’t I want to be embarrassed?

It wouldn’t kill me. But it’s just not comfortable.

I’m avoiding the possibility of feeling that.

One of the most important aspects of learning to handle approach anxiety is to become willing to accept the all of the emotions associated with speaking to strangers, whether it’s anxiety or embarrassment.

We spend most of our lives avoiding uncomfortable emotions. Whether it’s jealousy, fear, or sadness, we try to get rid of these feelings like a speck of dust in our eyes.

We head them off at the pass. We stay out of situations that could cause them.

We try to control those emotions. But controlling and avoiding anxiety is the problem, not the solution.

Can you learn to live with that uncomfortable feeling? It doesn’t get much worse than that feeling you get when you decide to approach her. It just gets easier after you walk up to her.

Suffering isn’t pain. It’s pain plus an unwillingness to accept the pain. It’s wrestling with that uncomfortable emotion that causes us suffering.

Avoiding meeting strangers tends to reduce the anxiety at first. Every time you feel like approaching a woman, you avoid it. You decide not to experience that fear.

But with every relief of not doing it, your anxiety grows the next time you think about doing it.

It’s not realistic to approach every single girl you’re attracted to. It’s DEFINITELY not realistic living in New York City. I would never make it to work in the morning.

But as I figure out the girl that I want, and commit to experiencing life in the way I want to experience it, there are certainly times that I’m compelled to talk to a girl when it makes sense.

Acceptance is a power to transform. It comes from experiencing life. All of it. The pain and discomfort as well as the euphoria.

But it is not passive acceptance, it is active acceptance. It’s feeling that fear and doing it anyway. You do this by learning to observe your feelings. By practicing not being controlled by your feelings.

The anxiety you feel is important. It is a part of you.

As you approach more, the fear will lessen. You will become desensitized. But this should not be your goal.

Your goal should be to accept all of your fear. Because no matter what level you’re at, if you are challenging yourself, your fear and anxiety will be there.

I take a deep breath and walk toward her. It’s not time to think any more, it’s time to act.

Every approach is an indicator that I am pushing myself. It’s a catalyst for me to confront my inner demons and destroy them as I become a man.

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posted in Acceptance

COMMENTS
4 responses
PFC says:

When will you be done becoming a man, and declare yourself to be one?

schwabsauce says:

On the front of embarrassment v anxiety, what is your strategy for approaching guys, assuming you’re straight or not more than a little curious? Do you pick guys out to befriend and open them on a regular basis, or does it happen organically, or not?

Adam says:

“Aren’t I supposed to be a man now?”

“A man is merely a boy that is old enough to ask himself that question.”

lesley says:

I understand that fear and anxiety is part of me, but only if I allow it to be.

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