You know that feeling you get before you approach a woman you're interested in? "Butterflies" in the stomach? Or maybe you feel jittery, tense, shaky? I used to avoid it. I didn't like it. I considered it to be something wrong—I had the idea that if I were confident enough, I simply wouldn't get nervous.
As I've come to see (better late than never), this kind of felt sense, known as "embodiment," is important, in fact, even something to be sought after.
Why would I want to purposefully make myself nervous?
Oh, for all kinds of reasons.
But mainly because your sense of embodiment is tied directly to your emotions. Think of all the metaphors we use "go with your gut," "speak from the heart," etc. These developed because how you feel is just as much a function of your body as it is of your brain. When you dunk a basketball and make the game-winning point, your brain may say "good job!" but your body is what feels the elation of your success.
Similarly, when you spot a woman across the room and start thinking about talking to her, your body may respond physically. In a sense, that's how you know it's working! Your nervousness is natural.
Maintaining some composure
Now, you do need to keep some degree of control over yourself. If you're too nervous and shaky to even walk over to her and say hi, it's time to reign in the body, take some deep breaths, and remind yourself that it's not that big of a deal. It also helps to get out of your head—approach early and often, before you get a chance to think about it too much, so you don't talk yourself out of the approach. But with practice, you can learn to moderate your nervousness while still keeping a felt sense of the body.
Now, I seek out that nervous feeling
I must say: I love flirting. Or more specifically, I love conversations that are playful, even when I'm aware there's no possibility of getting a date or further connecting. Everyday interactions (with the barista, the woman at the bus stop, the bank teller) can be so dull and devoid of fun, that finding any playful thread to follow can totally change your day (or hers). Don't be afraid to bring some levity and grace to the moment. You'll still get your coffee, board your bus, or deposit that check. It will be OK.