One of the best concepts in Roosh’s book Bang is the idea that approach anxiety is caused by ancient instincts. Approaching a woman was inherently risky. Her father, brother, cousins, her tribe, etc. might viciously attack a man that was seen to be making a sexual approach. By understanding approach anxiety, we can more easily observe it within ourselves and thus over ride what is in reality, rather out-of-date ‘software’.
The worst you risk these days is a stern look from her boyfriend or perhaps a shove. I was hitting on a girl half my age recently when her boyfriend showed up. He got all macho and insecure, but I smiled and gave him a pat on the shoulder. Men today are law abiding and try to avoid violent confrontation, simply because it’s more trouble than it’s worth. “I won’t if you won’t.”
In an extension of approach anxiety, I was trying to think into why that heavy feeling comes over me when I’ve made a mistake, been rejected by a girl, or failed in a business transaction. For example, not long ago I had a great conversation with a girl I met at the station. I had to run to catch my train, but not before establishing a highly sexually charged rapport with her, getting her number and finding out that she considered herself bisexual. I don’t have a lot of time these days to pick up women half my age, and this one seemed to be a catch and a sure fired threesome in the making.
Disaster struck and somehow I erased her number from my phone. It’s a trivial matter, but it made me feel irritated, annoyed and even a little depressed. I went through the old process of Denial – Anger – Depression – Bargaining – Acceptance.
In more serious cases (eg. wife or girlfriend cheats), the man in question often takes matters onto his own shoulders and ‘beats himself up’ more than he probably should. Other examples of business failures, bankruptcies and so forth that can also leave a man feeling beaten down, not wanting to take risk, and backed into a corner.
Why? Could Roosh’s explanation of approach anxiety, hold true for some kind of ‘failure anxiety’ ?
While it can be good to take a little break and clear the air after a failure, in many cases getting back on the horse after a fall is a far better approach. The reason for this is because we are not really defeated, only defeated by the moment in question. Another opportunity will soon come along that allows us to easily succeed. Quite often these failures actively seem to proceed a ‘moment of truth’ when it all becomes good. Being in the right place at the right time requires being there. It’s just at that hopeless moment when things might go in your favor. Proceeding cautiously after a setback is only valid in specific circumstances.
In the book Poker Mindset that I reviewed a few weeks ago, several psychological concepts are taught. Firstly, avoiding ‘tilt’. This is when a related or even unrelated event makes you angry or depressed and sets you off on a self-fulfilling prophecy of failing by default to prove you are a failure. Many shit tests are designed to unbalance a person until they slide head long into a self-created disaster. A woman’s shit test is a form of this, meant to disempower the man and make him freeze up.
More important than simply understanding the processes is understanding why they occur. Just as approach anxiety is inbuilt ‘software’ that is largely useless to us today, so too, feeling beaten, or reverting to ‘beta’ behavior. It is something that is designed to keep us ‘safe’. In the past when we were beaten up or didn’t catch the deer when hunting, we were better off feeling beaten because backing down kept as alive for another day. These inbuilt feelings of nervousness, tension, depression, loneliness, sadness, and loss stopped us taking further action, keeping us alive. The reason approach anxiety can be so powerful is precisely because it was designed to cope with life or death situations. In a purely animal setting, the young male stag that fails to beat the alpha in a mating rut, must back down lest the alpha outright kill him whereas in the human realm, doubling down, upping the ante or “going for the kill” is exactly what is needed.
This process also explains what we call “oneitis”, because the loss of a mate meant that a new mate had to be found, but finding a mate could be a dangerous pursuit. Thus our animal programming naturally makes us feel low, blue, and depressed to slow us down on that mission. NOW UNNECESSARY! One of the reasons why people love a successful underdog is precisely because he has overcome this animal programming.
Ask yourself the question: Is it life-threatening for me to have another shot at this right away? If not then take another shot at it no matter how bad you feel. Better yet, shake off the bad feeling, just as it’s necessary to shake off approach anxiety.
By practicing this attitude I’ve found that it’s possible to polarize the bad feelings into good feelings; to use them as markers and propulsion. At very least they represent a force to push against. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Rather than yielding to the bad feeling, instead I gather up a good feeling equal to the bad one.
In terms of cold approach, that twinge of anxiety you feel, now becomes fuel for your pick up engine. In terms of business and professional success, setbacks now become an enjoyable part of the drive that pushes you ever onwards. It’s the adrenaline rush as you base jump off the 3000ft cliff, rather than the anxiety that stops you dead in your tracks. Become an adrenaline junkie and at the same time, learn to rationally cover your risks, instead of running on animal fear.
Something that I’m guilty of is exaggerating the ‘disaster’ to a point of absurdity. In Al Pacino’s Two For The Money (brilliant movie), he explains how the gambler loves to lose. The thrill is in losing and then realizing that everything will be okay; a crippling yet rather exciting life strategy. A way to get beyond this is by embracing it. In any bad situation, simply exaggerate the outcome to absurdity then laugh at yourself for how stupid you are being.
“I lost my phone, now I’m going to wind up homeless and get nailed in the ass every night by roving gangs of evil demons.”
We can convert almost any bad moment, stress, anxiety or setback into an enjoyable reason to carry on. Engage and amplify! The only thing left to do is retain a cautious and rational judgment as to whether that is the correct course of action, whilst avoiding reactive or passive ‘tilts’ that only dig a deeper hole.
When my first LTR ended, I remember lying in bed, feeling terrible, and telling myself that I must never feel like this ever again. I had that lovestruck, bluesy, hopelessly depressing attitude where without that one woman at my side, life was meaningless. I avoided women for quite some time afterwards. Now we see the process that is taking place. A circuit breaker has blown altering the poor humanoid that a life and death situation has occurred and he should lay low for the foreseeable future. WRONG!
Having established this as BS the first time around, the second time I failed in a multi-year LTR, I went out on a date that same evening I put my ex on a plane home to her mother. I was in bed with a girl within two weeks. I pushed very aggressively and without knowing about game, I somehow tapped into natural, latent, instinctive abilities to bounce back and be a winner. I applied the same concept to business and making money. Lately I started applying it on a daily basis to any small set back. What’s more is that by appreciating the entire process that is going on, it becomes so much easier to tap into and leverage it for good.
Many men (with myself being the master of this) are simply too smart for their own good. They are constantly thinking, rationalizing, and strategizing until they wrap themselves up in knots. That combined with a little approach or failure anxiety leaves you screwed, producing a state of self-inertia and inaction, enough to cripple the most simple endeavor.
- Learn how to ‘switch on’ when you need it. Psyche yourself up. Remember the moments you ‘killed it’ and download that attitude (music can be good for this).
- Ride the wave of your own fear and enjoy doing it.
- Think into the real risks rationally and carefully (emotionally and physically there are usually almost none—most risks are financial or social).
- Employ strategy and attitudes that support YOU. Laugh at your fear—steal the fire from the devil.
- Ignore basic animal instincts—they are almost always defunct.
- Learn to take the jump in the moment.
- Learn to think and make decisions under pressure. Engage and amplify, with amplify being the important part once you are in the fray.
- Jump past failure and on the flip side be cool to success. Being over excited about successes brings larger disappointment when failures happen.
- If you are stuck, look for a small and easy success that you can rinse and repeat.
- You’ll never get off the ground if you don’t put your feet down.
If you read the biographies of almost anyone who has been successful you will find the same formula repeated again and again. I can’t say I’ve been any kind of expert at mastering it until lately. The reason for this is that many times I’ve run on dumb luck and thus not been able to understand the process in a way I could easily repeat. Other times I’ve passively wallowed in my own self-created failure for years. I hope I have the process clear now and I trust these concepts will be useful to other men out there.
Read Next: Why You Should Embrace Rejection