The first thing I'd like to put out there is this: I am by no means a pro or a guru or an expert or even particularly skilled in the arts of pickup. I (mostly through probably a little too much experimentation with psychoactive substances of ambiguous legal status) learned to pay a little more attention to the machinations of my mind. This might be common knowledge for you, but it wasn't to me at one time, so logic would dictate the someone out there could also benefit from it as well.
A driver, stepping on his accelerator, doesn't think consciously of the linkages connected to the pedal opening the valves in his carburetor or throttle body to let air and fuel into the combustion chambers to ignite and expand the air in the chamber, forcing down the pistons connected to the crankshaft which transfers rotation through his transmission into the drive shaft turning the gears in his axle which finally transfer that rotation to the wheels. He takes the action at face value; This means go. This same driver, if he just looked under the hood, could achieve a much greater understanding. The apparent elements of approach anxiety are all we usually see. "I think about approaching, I get scared." End of story. But just like the driver and his car, a much greater understanding of Approach Anxiety lies just beneath the surface, the hood if you will, if you'd just look.
Create for me, in your mind, a bar. Don't place any people in it, just imagine the bar. Its warmly lit and there's music playing. The walls are lined with booths. Tables are scattered throughout the open floor. There's a long bar to your left and the door outside to your right. Now populate the bar. There are bartenders busy making drinks and people filling the booths and tables busy drinking them. There's a group standing in the center of the bar. Three men and two women. Not just any women, two of the most jaw-droppingly gorgeous women you've ever seen. Hard tens. Now comes the interesting part. Place yourself into this bar. Not in the third person, attempt to imagine yourself from your own point of view and approach the group I told you about...
Now stop. Freeze the frame as you feel that little pang of anxiety at approaching this group. Notice whats happened to your perception of the scene? I'll bet its considerably different than the scene I had you imagine. The scene darkens, maybe goes black and white. The music is replaced by a deafening, oppressive silence. Your whole perception of the scene comes from a lower point of view, as if you've shrunken in relation to everything else. Take a look at the people. Every person in the bar is turned staring, scowling at you even the bartenders. You feel eyes on you of the people behind you. Now let the scene play out. You approach with little timid steps and before you can't even get a word out the whole group turns on you. They shoot you down brutally before you even get a word out and the whole bar erupts in laughter and disdain as you run for the door.
You see what happened? How things change as soon as you insert that intent to approach? The scene starts out innocuous enough and then turns threatening. This is a natural cautious reflex and its common for a reason. Its a good survival strategy. Your mind predicts the worst case scenario to protect you from a potentially dangerous situation. Now take a step back and look at how ridiculous the scene your mind gave you really is. Its equivalent to popping the hood and finding a clown furiously pedaling a tricycle powering your car. It just isn't so, and that's the key to overcoming approach anxiety. Realizing just how ludicrous and therefore invalid what pops into your mind when you think of approaching strangers really is.
A skydiver jumping out of a plane still feels fear every time he jumps because, well, he's jumping out of an airplane, but he ignores it because he's done it before and understands that what he's doing is safe. He's overcome his instinctual, but ultimately irrational, fear. So now with a greater understanding of your own irrational fears, it should be a little easier to go out and get a little real world experience under your belt. Here's how I did it:
Go out to a bar, or club, whatever your preferred venue may be, any social setting. Don't go out with the intention of picking anyone up. You've got to crawl to walk, and walk to run. Get yourself a drink if you must, and then get down to it. Start walking up to every person and group in the place and greeting them. Be non-threatening, relaxed. Smile. Just a simple greeting. "Hey, how ya'll doin' tonight?" Introduce yourself. Be non committal. Don't make them think you singled them out. Say "Places like this tend to stagnate, and I just love meeting new people." Make, small talk, attempt to be interesting, but as soon as you feel the conversation start to flag excuse yourself. "Well it was great meeting ya'll. Take it easy." and move on to the next group. You can do this all night. Who knows, you may just be approached yourself later by one of your groups, or someone who saw you talking to all these people and wonders if you know everyone in the bar. But that's not what we're after. In a single night you could do dozens of approaches, and that's sure to put a major dent in your approach anxiety.
By no means is this the end-all, cure-all to approach anxiety. Its just what worked for me. Like any good craftsman, I'm always open to respectful criticism. So please let me know what you think, your opinions. If this helped you in some way. As always, stay excellent my friends. Wildcat Out.