Section 5: How To Manage Anxiety
At this point, you’ve listened to my thoughts about how women detect confidence, that we experience similar struggles with confidence; that there are lessons to be learned from your rejections, jerks and playing on your strengths. So what to do if despite taking all of this in, you’re finding that you get tongue tied, sweaty and on the verge of perceived heart attack when you’re around women?
You likely fit into one of the following categories:
a. You are a bit of a jumpy, hyperactive, edgy person
b. You keep your cool most of the time, but when it comes to certain things, you
choke with anxiety.
c. It takes a great deal to rattle you and dealing with women is one of them.
Whether you seem to deal with it on a daily basis or you are plagued only at certain key moments, everyone can relate to having anxious moments. It boils down to a stress response and your body doesn’t know the difference between whether you’re in prehistoric times and being chased by a tyrannosaurus or if you’re chasing a 5 foot 6 blonde (that’s my height by the way and I’m far from scary). You are giving your body the cues that it’s time to run or to fight through the thoughts you’re having in a particular moment. Your body, in all it’s complexity and brilliance, does its very best job to take care of you by jumping into survival mode. So here I am! Ready to help you, not only as a woman who has seen this reaction umpteen times, but as a specialist in stress and anxiety management.
Commonly known as “fight or flight”; at a moments notice, your body makes 100’s of micro-adjustments to ensure your survival. Here are some of the things that it automatically does when it feels threatened:
- Shunting blood away from your extremities and toward your major internal organs. If you were under attack, you could survive without your finger, but you can’t live without your heart. This means poor circulation to your extremities (your head included), resulting in cold, clammy hands and feet, headaches, poor memory and confusion.
- Shutting down of “non-vital” functioning such as digestive functioning, growth and repair and skin and hair growth. Again, if you were in bodily danger, it really doesn’t matter whether you processed what you had for lunch, when you could be dead by dinner. It wouldn’t matter whether you had the immune functioning to fend of germs when you’re fending for your life. This results in low immunity and tendency to get ill, stomach issues (IBS, ulcers, cramping), dull skin and poor hair growth.
Our bodies can manage small amounts of this kind of response; enough to get away from an attacker to get to safety. We get in trouble when this becomes our way of living each day, as our bodies are not equipped to sustain high levels of stress and the hormones (i.e. cortisol and adrenaline) that accompany it. When you respond to a mugger in the same way that you would thoughts of potential rejection of a woman, this is a sign to reevaluate your perceptions and perspective.
Many of the medical problems our population suffers from are actually responses to chronic stress. Unfortunately, our medical institutions don’t support an integrated model of medicine (yet… that’s thankfully changing) so that the person who treats your head would actually talk to the one who’s treating you from the shoulders down since they’re connected, after all. Some of the signs of chronic stress include:
- High blood pressure
- Coronary heart disease
- Stroke and heart attack
- Muscle tension (usually in the form of back and neck pain)
- Digestive trouble
- Poor circulation
- Impotence and low sex drive
- Teeth grinding (TMJ)
- Poor immune functioning
- Dull skin and hair
- Slow repair and re-growth
- Poor memory, foggy thinking, poor concentration
- Irritability, sadness, burnout, impatience, agitation
- Chest tightness or difficulty breathing
You likely have or are experiencing at least one of these symptoms and chances are, they become exacerbated by situations involving potential judgment and performance. Don’t freak out just yet because you’re experiencing many on this list…look at this as an opportunity to recognize it for what it is and to address the source (before you get prescribed 9 different pills to regulate them).
How do you deal with it differently?
- Alter your perceptions. Meeting women and having women’s company is enjoyable…we’re soft and sexy. Seeking connections with women should also be fun and if it’s not, then you’re likely putting more meaning on the situation than it warrants. If you’re telling yourself that one woman’s perceptions of you on one day have a certain meaning (that you suck, that you’re awesome, that you’re worthless or unattractive), then you’re giving your power away. Yes, this goes for even telling yourself that you’re amazing if you’re liked. It’s a different side of the same coin. Like Kryptonite, you’re handing her the capability to bring you to your knees (or elevate you). Either way, this is totally unattractive to us. We don’t and won’t ever have this power unless you agree to hand it over; it can only be given with your consent and permission. So don’t do it! Giving others control over you feel about yourself is like riding an emotional roller coaster that you’re not conducting. You’re allowing someone else to have jurisdiction over the circumstances of your emotional state and that’s a pretty disempowering place to live. See this as the game that it is; where play, fun and laughter are involved. Alter your perspective before you even put yourself in a situation to meet women and you’ll be much better off on game day. We’re talking in the context of meeting and keeping women, but this applies to all areas of your life.
- Breathe. This sounds almost cliché, but I cannot emphasize it enough. Watch my video, Breathe Through It (Tony, insert video here…I still have to record it). to see the specifics of how to do this properly. Most of you are probably only getting a fraction of your total lung capacity and this signals to your body that you’re not safe. It automatically puts you in an elevated state and on edge. You began life breathing fully and properly. Somewhere along the way, when you began perceiving that the demands of your life exceeded your capacity to handle it, you began breathing in a shallow sort of way. The error was thinking that short, quick breaths were more efficient, but they actually work in the opposite way. After watching the video, practice breathing in non-stressful situations. Breathe deeply when you get up in the morning, when you’re in the shower and when you’re reading the morning paper. Breathe between your bites while eating and breathe while you’re in line at the grocery store. When you have practiced a bit, then move to doing it in more intense situations. I suggest doing it this way because I want you to learn the technique properly before you go practicing it in the height of your anxiety. Anxiety is simply trapped energy in your body attempting to escape. Didn’t I once see a t-shirt that said “Pain is fear leaving the body”? Tensing up and holding onto it gets very uncomfortable and can be painful. It’s the same kind of discomfort you feel in your throat when you’re trying to avoid crying. Resisting it hurts so much more than letting it go…allow your breath to move your feelings through you and you’ll experience so much more clarity and focus.
- Get Balanced. What I mean by this is to have a balance in your life amidst dating, work, family, friends and personal time. We’re going to talk about this over and over and can’t emphasize enough that having a life outside of this focus on women is essential if you want to attract the interesting woman you desire. Read more in the Keeping Your Life Balanced section. We want you to have a life. Everyone can agree that establishing a workout regimen is good for you, but it can literally release some of that buildup of tension that is trapped in your tissues. Masturbate or link up with a safe sex partner to let go of some of the extra energy that you’re holding onto. Seek regular and appropriate outlets in the form of sports, time with friends and quietude for yourself. Also understand that when you are at a breaking point, this can actually be a good thing, for you are on the brink of deconstructing old ways of being, doing and acting that may not be serving you. It can lead so some major and positive shifts if you allow it and get some support so that you don’t have to brave it alone. Speaking of assistance….
- Ask for help. This isn’t an easy one for many of you to do, but can be life changing if the strategies we’ve mentioned are not effective to reduce your anxiety. This doesn’t necessarily mean to seek medication (I’m always a proponent of exploring all alternatives before seeking this option), but this can be a short term strategy until you get some skills to manage it otherwise through individual or group counseling. See my When to Seek Help lesson for further information on this.
Most importantly, be kind and patient with yourself. You didn’t likely develop anxiety overnight, so don’t hold yourself to the expectation that you’ll get over it and never experience it again. Anxiety can, when used properly, can keep you safe or help you strive for your best; it CAN be useful and adaptive. We all have to manage excess tension on a regular basis; learning how to do it now is going to benefit you not only in the dating world, but all over your life. The confident and assured you is beneath this cloak of temporary tension, breathe and let it go…
Onto our final track on how to move on with class, dignity and character.