If you want to find love, one of the biggest things you have to overcome is fear. Fear of getting your heart broken, fear of being rejected, fear of being seen for who you really are, fear of looking like an idiot on a first date, fear of whatever anxiety plagues your mind.
Making yourself vulnerable with a complete stranger has got to be one of the craziest things we do as humans. Yet we do it because it has the possibility of leading us into a loving relationship (and most of us want that more than anything). The fear created in dating or a new relationship can play out in many ways. We may avoid, overcompensate, ignore, or be ruled by it. Resisting fear in any of these ways only creates more fear and anxiety.
The key to overcoming fear is to dance with it. Invite it in. Make friends. Stop resisting.
Dance Move #1: Know the science of fear.
If you want to conquer fear, you must understand your brain when its afraid. We go into a fear response in our bodies when we encounter a stress producing event (like a date). Our brains automatically release a dose of stress hormones into the body, which were originally intended to keep us alive when we were living in the wild, surviving as cavemen and women. This fear response is beyond our conscious control.
While it was helpful to keep us safe and survive dangerous situations, it can be a bit of a hindrance on a date. Once the adrenaline is flowing, you have no choice but to wait until your body decides its safe to calm down, which might be two hours after your date! So, if you find your heart racing, your palms sweating, and your voice shaking, know that your nervous system may take some time to decide to calm down.
What do you do once you find yourself in full on panic mode? The key is to take control of your nervous system and a little something called the vagus nerve.
Activating the vagus nerve can help reset your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for shutting down your fear response and relaxing you. Try these techniques on for size: take slow deep belly breaths, sing or hum loudly (maybe before your date!!), or laugh. Doing yoga and meditation on a daily basis will keep you in a more relaxed state in general.
Dance Move #2: Remember that motion creates emotion.
One of my favorite coaches, Tony Robbins, teaches us that motion creates emotion. What does this mean? It means that when you move (or don’t move) your body in certain ways, you can create any emotional state you desire.
Think about it. If you’re dancing like you’re at your favorite concert, your body probably feels excited and ecstatic. If you’re walking around with your head hanging low and your back slumped over, you can probably guess that you’re not going to feel energized or happy.
Before any date, a simple trick you can use is to move your body in a way that reflects how you want to feel. Personally, I think combining this with music is the most powerful. So, if you want to be calm, you might want to sit quietly and not move your body, but instead breathe slowly, and listen to some calming music.
Want to feel fun and confident? Dance around to a power song that uplifts you. Really get into it. Move your body. Jump up and down. Do it until you feel the adrenaline pump you up.
Make it a habit to regularly check in with your body (when you're not on a date). Experiment with different postures and movements and notice how they affect you emotionally. What makes you feel confident, powerful, or secure? Sexy, open, and loving? What makes you feel afraid, closed, and distrustful? Sometimes even a simple shift from being hunched over to extending your chin and putting your shoulders back can give you a boost of confidence and keep the heart space open.
Dance Move #3: Own your fear.
If you feel nervous, call it out. Use humor, honesty, or just pure authenticity. Who knows…your date might find your moment of honest self disclosure to be the tipping point toward attraction! And, you’ll likely relieve the pressure for you and your date. Remember that your date is just as nervous as you, even if he or she appears to be confident on the outside. This is a guarantee. Some people just hide fear better. Vulnerability loses its power when you acknowledge it. If you feel your heart pumping and your knees shaking, call it out.
Dance Move #4: Become a conscious chooser.
Most people go on a date with one question in the back of their mind…will I be liked, accepted, or approved? In the quest for love, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the power is in someone else’s hands to love and approve of you. While it does take two people to agree that they want a relationship, don’t forget that you have half of the power to decide.
Become a conscious chooser of who you date. Stop asking the question of whether your date will approve of you and turn the tables. Ask this instead: “is this person capable of meeting my needs?” This will keep you in a place of empowerment, and will also help you be more discerning of who you allow into your life.
Dance with fear. Don’t shrink in it.
Shifting your mindset, learning the science of fear, and mastering the state of your body can be powerful influences on your nervous system and your self-esteem. With practice, you can learn to date with confidence, openness, and empowerment, and keep your heart open to the possibilities of love.