We sometimes hear about near-death experiences from the news or even from someone we know and trust. These mysterious and powerful experiences usually involve a person being pronounced clinically dead for a few minutes but who is then brought back to life. It is fascinating, and for many of us reassuring to hear of the uncannily similar experiences of those who have gone through the beginning stages of dying and then returned to tell us that what they experienced was not pain or terror, but a sense of great peace and unconditional love. Create your plan of action. What would each of our sages tell you to do differently? Based on these insights, make another creative list of things you would do differently. This list will be your plan of action! People with an anxious attachment style are able to experience all five types of connection with others, but the "tubes" that convey this connection are partially blocked, leading the person to feel that even though they get enough emotional "oxygen" to survive, they are often gasping for air. People with anxious attachment usually felt they had to work a little harder to get their parents to respond to their emotional and affection needs. Perhaps the parents were anxious themselves, or they were afraid of "spoiling" the child with "too much" affection, so they intentionally withheld approval and affirmation from their children. Perhaps the parents were going through serious problems of their own that depleted their emotional resources and didn't leave them much energy to be nurturing toward their child. Regardless, children raised in such homes tend to grow up thinking that it is their job to make other people love them. It is simply too terrible for a child to believe that the people who are supposed to meet their emotional needs can't or won't. So, they focus their energy on pushing behavioral and emotional buttons in an attempt to get their parent to give them the love and affirmation they crave. Abraham Maslow, known as the father of the modern motivational theory, based his famous work Motivation and Personality on his studies of people as psychological specimens. His theory asserts that individuals are more capable, rational, and self-reliant than previous theories had suggested. The central core of his thesis is that man is an ever-wanting animal. As one want gets satisfied, another surfaces. In his "hierarchy of needs" chart, he showed a five-stage progression--from survival, security, and belongingness, to self-esteem and finally self-actualization. Technology has begun to distract and overwhelm us while many of us find ourselves suffering from a strange malnutrition, a malnourished emotional state.

This is because technology has expanded at such a rate that nearly every aspect of our world has been affected--our economy, medical industry, manufacturing, military, and education, and especially how we interrelate with each other--and technological growth is now happening so fast that we live in an ever-changing environment, which allows us to become masters of nothing. Yet with the exponential growth of information technology, there has been no corresponding expansion of personal happiness. Instead we find our society depressed, anxious, sleep deprived, and overmedicated. Many have an out of body experience, even observing a medical team performing resuscitation efforts on their lifeless body. Many describe a tunnel through which they move toward a powerful, clear, and beautiful light. Many claim to receive a rapid life review, the life-flashing-before-your-eyes event, while others even report receiving knowledge about the nature of life and the universe itself. Quite often, a powerful catharsis like these near-death experiences will cause a drastic readjustment in the person's life trajectory; he or she can be essentially reborn and will start a new life. In cases such as these, it seems that the closer to death we come, the more committed we are in choosing to live a fuller life after receiving a second chance. You perceive your self-worth in terms of whether you succeed at getting the approval of others. You tell yourself that you must get this approval in order to be a worthy human being, so you put a lot of pressure on yourself to obtain this approval, which can leave you in a constant state of anxiety about whether you will succeed in getting and maintaining it. Moreover, cases in which you do not successfully obtain or maintain the approval you demand can leave you feeling depressed or down about yourself. Not exactly the way to live a peaceful life! Finally learning how to study was wonderful, like a whole new world opening up. It got even better when I discovered the forgetting curve. I developed a system which gave structure to my studying. I started really learning things, not just passing the test. That was great! Having worked with clients around the world, varying in age, gender, race, religion, financial status, and life style, I have found that, although concerns span a broad spectrum, most people I have encountered follow the progression outlined in Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. There is little similarity between the person who is concerned about basic survival issues such as where he is going to obtain his next meal, where he will sleep, how he will clothe himself, and the person who is focusing on a career change, a divorce, or life purpose. I have found one consistent, all-pervasive theme that appears to be a major issue to all people regardless of their life condition, status in society, or background.

Studying with ADD means dealing with focus and concentration issues and avoiding distractions. We also need to know how to study. Even after I learned how to study though, the ADD still caused me trouble. Once in medical school, I was studying for the last exam of the year. I was tired, it wasn't a subject that interested me, and I couldn't concentrate. So I sat in the library writing poetry and bugging the other students who were trying to study. I didn't do well on that test. This is one of the things that came back to me and finally made some sense, once I realized that I have ADD. Now it's time to implement your plan of action. This is where you can begin to build a habit of unconditional self-acceptance to replace your tendency to damn yourself when you fall short of your perfectionistic demand. This is where you begin to emotionally accept the fact that you are a fallible human being like the rest of us! Chapter Fourteen, "Putting Your Action Plan to Work," will get you started. As you work through the exercises in that chapter and begin building your new skills in making peace with your achievement imperfections, keep these three key ideas in mind: If I must be perfect, or near-perfect, then how come no one else is? Human nature is imperfect, but I have admirable capacities for reason, self-determination, and subjectivity that support unconditionally treating myself with respect. If making mistakes diminished my worthiness as a person, we'd all be unworthy. This dynamic leads people with an anxious attachment style to enter adulthood relationships assuming that it is their job to fix other people's unhappiness -- even when they can't do anything about it. When they are unable to do so, they often feel terribly guilty, even if they know, intellectually, they have no reason to. They also tend to think that if a relationship isn't working -- especially a romantic relationship -- it must be their fault (especially when it is not). People with an anxious attachment style tend to fill their lives with people who can't love them properly and then blame themselves for simply not being worthy of the support they see other people getting. All of this causes them to be much more prone to experiencing a generalized sense of anxiety.

That is, they feel anxious all the time, even when things seem to be going okay for them. Even though these folks are often highly competent and capable (they have to be so that they can handle all the responsibility of trying to make everyone around them happy all the time), they simply become worn out from always being on high alert. They live in constant fear that they might disappoint someone or let somebody down in some way -- and that would be terrible! This fundamental issue has been the source of the majority of my clients' concerns. It is so subtle, so elusive, and so evasive that most people don't know what to call it or how to address it. The issue I am referring to has been given many names, including "the voice in my head," "my mind," "the mind chatter," "the gremlin inside," "the monkey on my back," "the critical parent," "demons," and "the pathological critic." What this While we have been busy with our hyperscheduled lives, we have quietly arrived at the threshold of a new era, the beginning of a new cultural paradigm unlike anything we have ever known. Yet too many of us haven't yet realized that we live in a very different world than we did twenty years ago, and we are so distracted that we have become unaware of what we are feeling and why we are feeling it. I love to read. I read fast; I can't wait to see what's coming next. I don't remember anything I've read. If I'm reading solely for pleasure this is OK. But if I want to retain something - to be able to discuss, or because I want to learn something - then I need to slow down. Every page or so I need to stop and ask myself, "Now what did I just read?" This a much less intense form of the study method. But it makes a big difference in how much I get out of the reading. It's hard for me to focus. It's hard for me to prioritize. It's hard for me to acknowledge that I can't do it all, and that I will just have to let some things go. It's easy for me to let myself become distracted and try to ride off in eight directions at once. Now, you may be thinking, "Doesn't everyone want to be approved of by peers, friends, family, coworkers, and so on? Isn't it just natural to want to be accepted?" And you have a point.

Of course, we all would prefer to be liked, loved, or approved of by others, and most of us would welcome it. But this is not the same thing as demanding approval, and it is precisely this demand that makes approval perfectionism self-destructive. The world we inhabit is not an ideal one where we always get what we want or prefer. So, while it can be preferable, even desirable, that others like, love, approve of, or otherwise accept you, it is unrealistic to demand it. I must get the approval of others. Others must approve of me. Notice that the second one makes a demand on others, while the first makes a demand on oneself. As we will discuss in Chapter Nine, the second demand is a type of ego-centered perfectionism. In contrast, approval demanders are in a habit of making the first demand on themselves. If you don't get the approval of others (or certain others), you experience self-doubt. Avoidantly attached people grew up in households where their physical needs were met, but very few of their emotional needs were attended to. They were taught from an early age that -- emotionally speaking, at least -- they were on their own. As such, most of the connection tubes are almost totally blocked for these individuals. Some avoidantly attached people grew up in households where they only received praise when they performed perfectly. These people grow up to be adults who get little pleasure from relationships (even when they have them) but can outperform anyone else in the workplace. They often hold positions of power and prominence but feel emotionally empty. Other avoidantly attached people discovered that even good performance went unrewarded. These folks grow up to focus simply on doing what must be done to get through the day. Avoidantly attached people feel burdened by relationships. They hate to depend on others and hate for others to depend on them.