For them, a good relationship is one where people leave each other alone. Unfortunately, that's not the whole picture. Life would be much simpler if you only had to deal with only the "I cans." Have you ever heard voices that say the exact opposite and talk you out of what you want? If so, then you are familiar with the "I can't" side. This voice is there primarily to keep you safe, protected from being embarrassed or humiliated. This part tells you: "You can't" about almost anything that stretches you beyond your limits. It is protective and geared toward keeping you safe. It is the self-doubting and fearful part. This part is the "I can't" self, because it comes from a fearful, limited, and doubting place. One of the big challenges in life is learning how to manage the inner battlefield of "I can'ts" and develop strong and robust "I cans." This process doesn't happen overnight. Avoidantly attached people are often unaware of their feelings in general. Anxiety tends to come out of nowhere and be all-consuming when it happens. Or, they tend to suffer from stress-related illnesses like irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia -- real, physical disorders often caused by the stress that results from poor parental and social attachment. People with avoidant attachment styles tend to have impaired awareness of how their emotional, relational, and spiritual lives are contributing to their anxiety. As such, they tend to rely too heavily on seeking both physical causes and cures for their anxiety. Because they have few psychological or relational resources to deal with these intense, intrusive emotions, they often turn to drink, drugs, or obsessive behaviors (like extreme exercise, extreme nutritional regimens/diets, scrupulosity, workaholism, gambling, compulsive pornography use, etc.) in an attempt to anesthetize themselves from emotional pain. This behavior allows them to function in the short-term, but long-term, makes the experience of anxiety worse as their personal and relational disasters pile up. Although the technology revolution has been surging for some time, it has gone largely unnoticed beyond the excitement of upgraded smartphones, social networking, iPads, and dazzling special effects in films and video gaming. But currently, because the exponential growth curve has become steeper, almost doubling every year, things are moving faster and faster. (Remember that Facebook did not exist eight years ago.) Now the media is beginning to notice that our over infatuation with social media is concurrent with our slipping into an isolated lifestyle and has begun reporting it, but it is far from headline news.

Explanation of exponential growth: If I gave you a dollar every day for thirty days, at the end of the month you would have collected thirty dollars from me. This is an example of linear growth. But with exponential growth, if I would give you one dollar on the first day, the next day it would double, so I would give you two dollars; on the next day four, then eight, and so on. At the end of the month, you would collect over one billion dollars. According to some preeminent futurists, technological advances are growing so fast, they have nearly reached this point of doubling every year. I've been learning to play the guitar for many many years. I've vastly improved, but I'm still not good at it. The books and the print outs from the internet course are just sitting on the coffee table and the course is waiting on the internet for me to find the time to get back to it. Naturally, I can't do all of this. I also bought a wonderful Spanish program, Yabla, on the internet. I enjoy it, whenever I find the time to go to it. That's not often. So, what am I actually doing? Well, at the moment I'm trying to learn "Brother Can You Spare A Dime" on the guitar. I just about have it and am ready to start on "I Remember You" next, which I previously half-learned. I'm also trying to learn the irregular predicate verbs in Spanish. What I'm also trying to remember, and to learn, are the rules - focus on one thing at a time; really learn, not half learn; just because you bought a book (or a course) doesn't mean you know the material in it. But I tend to scatter myself out, and go in many different directions at once. And thus I often don't get anywhere at all. Further, let's be clear about the object of the approval you are demanding.

As a demander of approval, your bottom line is to successfully secure others' approval of you as a person. Such approval of you is distinct from approval of what you say or do. These objects of approval are distinct, because others can approve of you as a person even though they don't approve of your conduct, and vice versa. However, to get and maintain others' approval of you, ordinarily it's also necessary to get others to approve of the things you say or do. Consequently, approval perfectionists typically place a further demand on themselves: to get others to approve of the things they say or do. For example, suppose you demand that your colleague, whom you respect, approve of you as a person. If you think you said something with which he disagrees, you may in turn be anxious that he may stop approving of you. Here you may be demanding of yourself that you not say anything with which your colleague might disagree, so you can continue to maintain your colleague's approval. Many people fear that they can't change. They think that they're creatures of habit: too old, too lazy, or too stuck in their ways. If you are a person who is fearful that you can't change and that you'll always be the way you are, stop worrying. It takes at least one month of repeated, consistent behavior to establish a new habit and two months of consistent avoidance to break one. It takes time, it doesn't happen overnight, but it can and does happen. Remember, all things are possible... if you have the desire, the willingness, the belief, and the commitment. The good news is that if you are anxiously or avoidantly attached, you can learn to be more securely attached by developing healthy relationships with securely attached people. Although healthy relationships can make anxiously attached people suspicious ("Why are you so nice to me? What do you want from me?") and avoidantly attached people feel irritated ("Ugh. Stop wanting `so much' from me!"), these relationships can teach you that you don't have to work so hard to get others to stick around, or to remember that it really is important to need others and be needed by them. It is hard work, and it doesn't come naturally, which is why therapy is often a necessary part of healing attachment wounds.

Often, it is a crisis that makes the anxiously or avoidantly attached person see that something needs to change. But with proper attention, the crushing and constant sense of anxiety that accompanies these individuals' gut-level struggles to form healthy connections with others can be healed. If someone has been negative for a long time, it takes desire, willingness, belief, and commitment to achieve this level of self-mastery. This book contains techniques and tools that I will share with you, but the bottom line is that you have to be willing and committed to using and practicing them every day, probably for the rest of your life. If you were going to be a concert pianist, you wouldn't merely practice the day before the concert; you would practice every day in order to prepare yourself for your big event. By the time the day of the concert arrives you would be practiced and prepared to perform. You would feel confident, because you knew that you had done what was required. Many people have the desire and even the willingness, however, the real question is: are you really committed to having this situation be different? We are starting to become aware of something happening all around us but are barely processing it. Perhaps because we are so attached to what used to be, our minds cannot see what is in front of us. Like the Aztecs, who, according to legend, couldn't recognize the European ships carrying the conquistadors, we do not seem to fathom how our own world has changed. Socially, in our attempt to be more connected, we have actually, in mass, taken two steps back by choosing to abandon personal conversations in preference for impersonal communication via text. We have quickly transformed into a distracted society focused on entertainment dispensed from flat screens. In our everyday lives the Information Age has really manifested as the Entertainment Age, and it appears that we are already having trouble deciphering the difference between life and entertainment. Yet with all this, many of us are not informed of just how vast the coming changes are. Here are two examples of extraordinary developments that experts predict are coming our way within twenty years. So, I will learn those two songs, one at a time, and overlearn them, Overlearn means really learn the heck out of it; keep studying it even after you have it. And don't stop at "I've got it pretty well." Then I plan to go to the internet guitar course and work my way through it. Often when I start something like that, I go along until I hit something difficult and then I drop it. This time I plan to stick with it; I'm making that commitment, just like I had to commit that I am going to finish this book.

I have to acknowledge that I can only learn one thing at a time and that I have to focus on that one thing and overlearn it. I do have a plan B: if I hit something hard in the guitar course, unless it's a necessary foundation for what comes next, I can skip it and go on, not skip it and drop the course. There's no rule that says I have to learn everything in that course; I'm not working for a grade. If it were a college course, it still might be smart to skip the hard part and come back later, rather than just becoming discouraged and starting to find distractions and eventually just letting the whole thing go. Another approach for when I hit a hard spot, whether in college or in my home guitar course, might be to find some help. There also is no rule that says I have to do it all on my own. I have counseled individuals who have spent much of their lives trying to gain their parents' approval. Many have been high achievers yet could never seem to do enough to satisfy their parents. One earned a PhD in physics, became a professor, and rose to the rank of dean at his university. Still, his father never approved of him as a person. So this poor fellow continued to think of himself as second rate, and not really deserving of his professional status. There was no question that he had achieved great things. But it all meant nothing to him, because his father never acknowledged any of it but instead continued to belittle and find fault with him. The dean demanded of himself that he achieve things that would win his father's approval, but he never seemed (in his mind) to get it right. It was not until he realized that he was demanding his father's approval of him as a person, and that this unrequited demand was the source of his self-doubt, that he began to make progress in therapy. People who have what is known as extrinsic faith tend to be more anxious -- and more likely to find faith itself stress-inducing -- than people who have an intrinsic faith. These two faith-styles were first identified by personality psychologist Gordon Allport.1 Extrinsic faith is defined as religious or spiritual behavior primarily oriented to achieving non-religious goals such as parental or social acceptance, approval, or success and social status. By contrast, intrinsic faith is religious or spiritual behavior that is primarily oriented to helping a person live a more meaningful, integrated life. You need to be patient and persistent, understanding and relentless, compassionate and determined. This is a new way if relating to you.