Ego Depletion is what erodes willpower and self-control. It is also called Ego Fatigue. Even for those who cultivate self-awareness and Sovereignty, ego depletion is always something to deal with. Ego depletion is the drawing down of your energy from having to constantly manage and restrain the ego tendencies. The ego’s reactive element leads to stress. The constant reaction leads to constant stress. Constantly reacting emotionally to life’s daily dramas and worries uses up a lot of energy. We all know how tired we are after a stressful day of worry, anxiety, and strife. When you become tired, you do not have enough energy to keep the ego from taking over and making bad choices. It is at this point of fatigue that we lose the battle with self-discipline and break the rules that we have set for ourselves. When we are tired and out of energy, we give in and let the ego satiate its desire. A modern analogy might be to compare your body’s energy level to a cell phone battery. When too many apps on the phone are working at once, the battery drains much faster. At some point, it must be recharged. Limiting how many apps are running is akin to limiting mind activity and resting it periodically such as short meditations and mental breaks. Once distracted we don’t even notice our slide out of sanity and into the ego reactive mode. Ego fatigue erodes our ability to stick to the path, achieve goals, and do what we promised ourselves that we do or not do. So, what is the solution?
Until the time that you become fully enlightened and are no longer subject to ego temptation, which most of us are not, you must work on being aware and managing your energy reserves. Physical energy, or vitality, plays a big role in being able to remain detached and stay in charge of your inner kingdom. Spiritual energy and emotions are also important to maintain so that you do not become too fatigued to say no to your desire. Meditation and mindfulness are skills that allow you to be awake and aware of reactions and give you the chance to not get sucked into the trap of ego depletion by being less reactive. By staying ahead of these emotional energy-draining reactions, you can conserve energy, remain detached, stay relaxed and make smarter decisions.
Most importantly, there are situations and circumstances where your wisdom mind knows the danger of letting desire control decision-making. You can become aware of ego traps. Part of you knows better than to do “it” but the ego takes advantage of a tired spirit and takes over. The wise and rational mind knows that making a bad choice will have negative consequences but without the energy to dominate the ego, the trap gets sprung, and karma (cause and effect) delivers the result. In everyday life, there are many traps awaiting the ego, so one must be vigilant in not falling into one through being too tired to do the right thing.
- Take a moment to think about a recent stressful day when you were tired and worn out. An example might be when you had a tough day at work and came home to indulge in food and drink that causes harm to the body. Sometimes we can get too tired to care and just give in to desire. That is the moment you have become too depleted to manage your ego and restrain your “self” from doing something unhealthy.
- Think of ways to rest your mind and restore your energy during the day so that you are not depleted. Find moments where you can just stop and rest. Find moments where you can bring yourself present and self-aware so that you know that you are becoming depleted and losing resolve.
Now that you know why you get grumpy or grouchy at the end of the day, you can learn to become aware of your energy level and manage it so that you don’t have an ego fail and fall into one of the traps.
This article is an excerpt from the soon-to-be-published book, The Tao of Longevity, Chapter 37, Seven Ego Traps for a Toxic Lifestyle.