The Holidays are a Blessing, But Can Amplify “The Curse” Too.


In the book, The Curse of the Capable, there is a concept called “the downward trend”; it’s what happens when an unsupportive internal psychology manifests physically, particularly during busy times.

Thanksgiving has just passed, and surely it was a very busy time for you.

How are you feeling?

For many people who suffer from the curse, unable to stop themselves from being active all the time; accomplishing, achieving, doing everything to the 9′s, it take a physical toll. I see this all the time as a  lifestyle performance coach; clients learn all about healthy living, but for some reason, a reason they are unaware of, even though they may know what to do, they ultimately do not have the time, space or the energy to do it, or are just enable to make a change.

So they think.

That realization is a major reason why I got involved in this work with Dr Ciaramicoli and learned about this thing, called “the curse”. I used to just call it… “it”. When I read his book Performance Addiction, “it” finally had a name. We talk more about that story, in the free download available on the site.

Here’s a little about the downward trend from the book and why you need to be extra specially careful during the Holidays to stay out of it. Remember, if you haven’t yet changed your internal thinking, the holidays, as much of a blessing as they are, can also amplify the curse.

An addiction to performance, regardless of the underlying reasons, requires that you stimulate your way through the day to keep going. The methods employed are usually more food, stimulants and yes, more activity.

Even if the “stimulant” is exercise, the body gets more exhausted because of a lack of recovery. Facing a true exhaustive state without a feeling of accomplishment (which those with PA have difficulty experiencing because they are always on to the next thing) is depressing and persistent.

The downward trend continues; the psychological pattern of PA now becomes an energy drain with physical manifestations. Rarely if ever stepping back to change the pattern, the addicted person presses on for elusively better results in her body, her life and her business. He or she seeks quicker, more effective solutions—fitness programs, diets and drug fixes—to deal with the ever-present health problems such as fatigue and weight gain.

But this can only be solved by stepping back and changing your lifestyle and essentially how you achieve your goals in the world. As the symptoms of this pattern are suppressed en masse, we get an emerging population of increasingly more anxious performance addicts with seemingly less time, energy and space to take care of themselves. This could describe our culture.

When sharing the title for this book with others prior to publishing, no sooner would I get the words out of my mouth when someone would say something to the effect of “Whatever it is, I’ve got it” or “I know what you’re talking about.”

Anyone who has followed the path of dealing with symptoms, but avoided the roots of the problem, that usually start in the realm of well being (thinking, life structure…) knows in his or her heart it does not work. Health statistics are the perfect example; they get worse and worse as obesity climbs up 6% per year, and this year will be no different.

The “quick fix” (from the top down or outside in) for what are really lifestyle issues (that require a bottom up or from the inside out solution), is anything but quick. It seems to work in the short term, but in the end the gain is usually outweighed by the pain of compounding problems still covered up.

The downward trend creates misery and potentially a “lost cause” outlook as the roots of PA, its psychological challenges and physical consequences are buried deep and out of sight.

You know you need to change, but like all addictions, tomorrow your defense of rationalization and your “second wind” takes over. You return to using the only methods you know work; at least you know they work temporarily.

In our society we know that if you look good and also have credentials and money (despite an unhealthy lifestyle,) you are going to be idealized for a while; but if these results are based on an addiction to performance and a poor lifestyle, it’s only a matter of time before the curse takes its destructive toll. It was this realization that originally inspired The Curse of the Capable. The addiction itself is not the cause; you have to uncover the root causes if you really want to solve the problem and stay off the downward trend.

As we start the new year…

The quest for relief typically starts with a recommitment to goals, higher levels of activity and productivity, a new exercise program, a stricter diet regimen, more attempts to please others etc. to deal with the symptoms of this driven, yet overwhelming and exhausting way of life that can leave you feeling helpless despite your obvious capabilities.

Unfortunately, none of those efforts deal with the hidden challenges or its roots, which will magnify during periods of stress. Irrational and inaccurate belief systems emotionally hardwired from earlier experiences drive us in self-destructive ways, even though the actions may appear admirable.

In a world where performance is rewarded to maintain productivity and quick fixes are the norm, performance addicts are at an extreme disadvantage. Amidst the cultural expectations for achievement, they are unable to assert their personal preferences, set boundaries or take care of themselves at the level they need to maintain balance, health and well-being.

They may be achieving their goals, but living out of balance, they are trading their health and well being to do it.

Once you are on this downward trend, all aspects of the curse are amplified.

And what’s the impact?

In Dr Ciaramicoli’s recent blog post, “The Need for Goodness in our Troubled World” he says….

“Human beings are kinder to each other when we feel safe and secure. With the rise of aggression in our culture, the threat of terrorism, the increase of bullying in our schools and in our workplace we find ourselves in a position of fear. Exhaustion and financial difficulties don’t help either.

Fear creates anxiety, anxiety creates distorted thinking and ultimately distorted thinking creates an inflexible, overly simplified view of the world. These recent changes in our culture have promoted a lack of good will toward others and fostered more self absorption and less outward giving.

Imagine, external circumstances that are creating fear and anxiety and how they can be amplified because you are overwhelmed and exhausted, unhappy because of symptoms you may be experiencing underlying it all (overweight), and being distracted by health complications. That can really compound issues in your life.

That’s one very good reason you want to stay out of the downward trend.

By John Allen Mollenhauer, co – author.

Filed Under: Balanced LifeBook ExcerptHealthy LivingYour Lifestyle


About the Author

John-Allen Mollenhauer (aka “John Allen” or “JAM”) is the co-author of the book The Curse of the Capable, (Fall 2009) by Harvard Psychology Instructor Arthur P Ciaramicoli PhD. He is a leading lifestyle performance coach and founder of both where he works with goal oriented people (working parents, professionals, business owners and entrepreneurs) who learn how to get free of the hidden challenges to a balanced, healthy high achieving life by improving their lifestyle. Also an entrepreneur, he has created many solutions for people who want to learn the next level in healthy living, such as, and He appears frequently on radio and television shows, including Comcast CN8, WTBQ, Air America, MoJo Radio, and others. He is a featured speaker at the Annual CoachVille Conference, the National Health Association Annual Conference, and the Monkey Bar Gym Fitness Chain. He speaks at corporations and business conferences including all types where listeners and attendees discover Performance Lifestyle. He is a regular contributor to the award winning Health Science Journal.

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