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How Ego Depletion Can Sabotage Your Willpower

https://www.verywellmind.com/ego-depletion-4175496

verywellmind.com

How Ego Depletion Can Sabotage Your Willpower
Think about how you feel after a long, busy day. After running errands, working on projects, and rushing to appointments, do you still feel like you have the energy to work on your goals? Once the day was done, you probably want to collapse in front of the TV and avoid doing anything at all.

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Ego Depletion

Ego Depletion

Ego depletion happens when people use up their available willpower on one task.

We all have natural urges, desires, and tendencies that demand attention. When we curb those urges, it requires willpower. Even small decisions to delay gratification require huge mental, emotional, and cognitive effort. As willpower is a limited resource, when it is used up, we experience mental exhaustion and fatigue.

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Self Control

People having a high level of self-control experience better relationships and have higher achievement levels. Lack of self-control is associated with social conflict and low-grade academic performance.

Example: While following a diet regime, a person spends a lot of willpower the whole day trying to avoid junk food, but by the end of the day, all his mental energy has been exhausted, and there is no self-control left, resulting in snacking on unhealthy food.

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Causes of Ego Depletion

Many emotional and physical factors contribute to ego depletion, like:

  • Emotional distress
  • Struggling to learn something new
  • Mental fatigue due to anxiety
  • Low levels of blood sugar
  • Too much choice
  • Conflicting beliefs and actions (cognitive dissonance)
  • Heart Rate
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Being young and immature.

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Dieting and social behaviors

  • Chronic dieters seem to be more prone to ego depletion as they apply their limited willpower on controlling their food intake, therefore being more likely to lose their self-control when temptation strikes.
  • Ego depletion makes people feel less guilty, making them less likely to be empathetic or helpful towards others.

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Decision Making

The huge amount of choices that a consumer makes while shopping can lead to ego depletion, as they become mentally exhausted and overwhelmed.

This leads to the consumer picking something without much thought, like just the lower-priced one, or a familiar brand.

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Mental Performance

.. requires mental toughness and determination. When willpower is exhausted due to challenging mental tasks, it leads to physical exhaustion.

Example: Students having a tough exam before a game might perform poorly in the activity.

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Addictions

Depletion of self-control can make people impulsively consume addictive drugs like alcohol or tobacco.

If all the willpower is exhausted in other tasks, the person is more likely to give in to the temptation.

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Prevention of Ego Depletion

Prevention of Ego Depletion
  • Take steps to boost your mood.
  • Change your outlook and focus on the big picture.
  • Use positive self-affirmation to counter the effects of ego depletion.
  • Make sure you get proper sleep.
  • Practice deep breathing and mindfulness meditation.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Self-Control

 ... is the ability to regulate and alter responses in order to avoid undesirable behaviors, increase desirable ones, and achieve long-term goals.

Research on Self-Control

  • A 2011 survey found that 27 % of respondents identified a lack of willpower as the primary factor keeping them from reaching their goals. 
  • One study found that students who exhibited greater self-discipline had better grades, higher test scores, and were more likely to be admitted to a competitive academic program. 
  • The study also found that when it came to academic success, self-control was a more important factor than IQ scores.
  • A health study found that people who were rated as having high levels of self-control during childhood continued to have high levels of physical and mental health in adulthood.
  • Research has found that self-control is a limited resource. In the long-term, exercising self-control tends to strengthen it. 

Motivation and Monitoring

A lack of willpower is not the only factor that affects goal attainment.

  • There needs to be a clear goal and the motivation to change. Having an unclear or overly general goal and insufficient motivation can lead to failure.
  • You need to monitor your actions daily towards the achievement of the goal.
  • You need to have willpower.

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Ego depletion

The theory of 'ego depletion' refers to the idea that there is a connection between willpower and one's limited reserve of mental energy. 

However, evidence has been brought to support a...

A self-defeating state of mind

Having a self-defeating state of mind makes one believe that he or she is not able to achieve certain goals, by providing a logical reason to give up.

Willpower as emotion

According to the psychology professor Michael Inzlicht, the individual is able to control his or her willpower, taking into account current feelings and events. 

This is perceived as a decision-making tool that enables its owner to have full disposal of the mental energy and, therefore, to accomplish even the most challenging tasks.

What willpower is

What willpower is

Willpower is the ability to resist or delay short-term desires to achieve long-term goals. Other names for willpower are self-discipline, self-control, self-regulation, determinati...

Benefits of willpower

  • Self-control appears to be a better predictor of academic achievement, a determining factor of effective leadership, and essential for marital satisfaction.
  • People who harness their willpower more effectively are happier, healthier, have better relationships, are further ahead in their careers, are more able to manage stress and deal with conflict.

The neuroanatomy of willpower

  • The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is the part of our brains situated right behind our forehead. It is responsible for abstract thinking, analyzing thoughts, and regulating behavior.
  • The PFC controls what we think about, what we pay attention to, how we feel. Studies point out that this part of the brain is only fully developed around age 25.
  • The "I will power" is controlled by the region near the upper left side of the brain and helps you start and continue with not so fun tasks.
  • The right side handles the "I won't power," preventing you from acting out on every impulse.
  • The "I want power" sits in the middle of the PFC and keeps track of your goals and desires.