Reframing Approach Anxiety

Approach anxiety is a common phenomenon, it occurs when we want to initiate a conversation with a new person but don’t because of fear or worry. Often times these fears and worries stem from our belief system and perspective. But once we learn how to “reframe” these situations – by looking at them from a new perspective – we can better motivate ourselves to act in more life-enhancing ways.

It’s natural for many people to feel anxiety when first meeting someone new: a girl at a bar, a potential employer, a friend of a friend, or some stranger in public.

Sometimes it’s harder to approach someone or initiate a conversation than it is to actually carry out the conversation once it has already started.

This kind of social anxiety is known as approach anxiety.

It occurs whenever we want to meet someone new but are too worried or afraid to do it. Often it stems from our belief system:

*We think that we aren’t good enough or worthy of the person’s time.
*We think that we will do something stupid and embarrass ourselves.
*We think that we will be rejected as a person.
*We think about what other people will think.

These are some of the most common causes of approach anxiety, but there are probably others too. I believe that we can learn to better manage most anxieties by using a technique called reframing. Reframing (also known as “cognitive restructuring”) is a popular tool in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) where an individual investigates their belief system and replaces unhelpful beliefs with more life-enhancing beliefs.

Here are some reframes I have found helpful for managing approach anxiety:


As I mentioned before, one of the key causes of approach anxiety is that we feel like we aren’t worthy of someone’s attention. We may find ourselves thinking or saying things like:

“Why should they want to talk to me?”
“That person is way out of my league.”

We can begin to reframe these thought patterns by focusing more on how we add value to our relationships. Then we can begin thinking more productively:

“Of course someone should want to hang out with me – I’m smart, funny, and a loyal friend.”

The key is to identify your strengths and positive attributes, then recognize that you are a person that people should want to meet and get to know better.

Because if you don’t believe you are a person worth getting to know, it’s going to be tough for you to actively approach new people. But when you believe you are a person worth knowing, you’ll feel more free to initiate conversations. You believe that anytime you interact with someone you are offering value to them: your time, your attention, your energy, etc. So when a person rejects you, it’s their loss, not yours.

This kind of reframe can help eliminate a lot of the baggage when it comes to approaching new people. We often feel as though we have to “prove ourselves,” and when we get rejected it hurts because we feel like the person has denied us as a human being. But if we have self-esteem and we understand the value we offer to others, we realize that when a person “rejects us” they are the one’s missing out.

Author: Health Care on July 13, 2011
Category: Anxiety

Last articles