"No willpower, no gain. No gain, no willpower." (There is a "vicious spiral.)
"Low energy, no will power." (A physical reality that we must consider - and handle!)
"What, then, is the source of the POWER (!) that keeps us going in life?"
THE BASIC IDEA
In willpower studies, they discovered the physical reality of "ego depletion" - where if we use up this "energy" then we have little power left over to use our will - and sometimes even to use our brain.
The term "ego depletion" sounded like there is an existing ego entity, which is not true per se. So I chose "Psych Energy Depletion" instead. I could have also used Emotion Depletion, but it is also susceptible to false interpretation.
Since everything that occurs is actually physical, certainly psychologic energy (power, will, etc.) can be affected by increasing the amount of physical energy - so we try that first and find that it often corrects the problem by itself. We can overcome moods, or lower states of being, often directly through physical means. (See the Energy page and the Instant Energy From Something Good page.) But at times, the physical regeneration of energy didn't seem to do the trick. I still experienced "feelings" of tiredness, uninterestedness, "I don't feel like doing anything", "what should I do next", attention units shortage, general "not thinking" (where the brain seemed to not be very coherent or capable of returning to that condition), some sort of agitation (like really vague anxiety) - where I'd just as soon vegetate or be passively entertained like a PokeyMan or play a computer game.
In my higher psych energy times I tended to think I'd like to use the low energy times, mostly in the evening, to do reading or watch educational videos - but that concept seemed to disappear into very little desire when I was "tired" or just dull. It did seem reasonable that the body as it gets tired later in the day begins to malfunction a bit and to seek to go into a lower energy, preservation mode - which would make sense in the days of the caveman.
Yes, I know that "interest" or "excitement" can generate renewed physical energy even when we might have felt tired and "energyless", as the body has lots more energy in it all the time - but that renewed energy resulted from a situation or trigger that "happened to me", where I was the passive recipient of the benefit.
I really needed to establish a way to not have those low psych energy hours disappear into a sinkhole - so I could use them for activities of higher value to me.
This was a problem that does relate to willpower to use for self control and self motivation, but it is also a different problem. I need to establish a system that will work to redeem that time. That system is addressed at
Now, we'll return to discussing the dynamics of willpower, which might be called the power of "I will" (as opposed to the above lack of power of "I want"). If I feel physically powerful, I can exert my will to get something done and it seems relatively easy. It is "activated power", power being defined as "the ability in action to marshall your resources to get what you want":
OUR WILLPOWER RESERVE DEPLETES
Basically, the scientific studies found that if we had to resist a temptation or exert our will to get something done, we would then find ourselves afterward unable to exert much self-control. (You might have noticed that in your life!) That inability is often considered by ourselves to be a flaw in our character.
But that is not at all true. It is just part of our evolution, one that served some purpose, but which we wish was different now - we simply use up our willpower energy and thus will have little left for other things. We can only take on a limited number of energy depleters at a time - just as we have experienced when we fail really quickly on our exuberant New Year's resolutions...
This all fits under the category of emotion, which is simply a biochemical motivation device that impels our behavior or at least comfort and discomfort, which we can have some dominion over but which we fail to exercise at some crucial times.
If your psych energy is depleted, fears come in easier, your brain does not think at the higher levels, and impulses seem to tend to rule and be "irresistible" - and you just can't seem to do those things that are better for you. The key word in there is "seem", as it appears that that is true, but it is not. The truth is that we do not choose with any vigor the alternative that is better for us.
SO, WE HAVE A "DEPLETABLE" RESOURCE
So if we have a resource of psychological power that is sometimes available and sometimes not and if we deplete it by identifiable activities, then it would seem that we should figure out how to solve the puzzle of being sure we have enough psych energy to decide to do what is best for us. And the obvious solution is to:
1. Find ways that reduce the depletion rate.
2. Find way to fill up the tank.
WAYS TO DEPLETE IT LESS
Here, of course, we have to identify what it is that depletes this energy reservoir - and then figure ways to avoid or reduce the depletion.
One big one, which tends to be self-renewing, is saying negative things to yourself - and if you do it well and often you end up in various degrees of depression ("emotional" depletion or psych energy depletion).
The "astounding" demonstration of this effect is the one where a person holds out his arm as strongly as possible while someone is trying to push it down; then the person is instructed to say something really good about himself; the arm stays strong. But when he say something negative, even though he is doing it rotely as instructed, his arm becomes easy to push down. Clear evidence of this phenomena existing, even when we were only pretending, in a sense, when we said the negative item. Apparently "negativity" has a "subtraction" effect. (Duh!)
John Gottman, a super-expert on relationships, says he can predict with a very high degree of accuracy with couples will not do well, just by observing the ratio of positive interactions to negative ones. 5 to 1 apparently is the minimum standard.
Those who hold strongly to their belief that "talking negatively" has no effect on them will live on in ignorance and unhappiness - as they will be "subtracted from". Learning this little (big) simple lesson can have a huge effect on one's happiness.
WAYS TO FILL IT UP
The concept in personal psychology and also in relationships that is often used is "filling up the emotional bank account" (or "tank"). Those would seem to be relevant here, so you might look at The Emotional Bank Account - Keeping It Full.
Implement that better lifestyle asap!
BOTH ARE "EQUAL" - ONE UNIT IN = AVOIDING ONE UNIT OUT
Of course, it is difficult to quantify "emotional units". But we can use a "judgmental" "value". If it seems big, we can give it up to 10 units of power. If it seems small, we can go down to 1 unit of power. Thus we can giver bigger "weights" to those items that have more impact. Why bother, you say?
Because then we can use the simple, but powerful, technique called "prioritizing", where we give priority to those items that have the biggest payoff per unit of energy expended.
SO, THIS IS WHAT WE WILL DO TO CREATE MORE PSYCH
ENERGY AND WILLPOWER
So, we simply make up for ourselves two lists, one of emotional deposits and one of withdrawals, and then prioritize them. One of the catches is you have to figure out what you'd have to do to reduce or eliminate the withdrawal. And in both cases of course, you'd have to "weight" them.
The format would be something like this:
Action Units What to do
Then you'd sort the list so that the most impactful items would be at the top and then in descending order of impact.
You then have a list of "tactics" to keep your psych energy tank full.
OF COURSE, THERE IS A REASON TO HAVE "PSYCH ENERGY"
The reason to have "psych energy" is that we want to have it in order to be able to spend it effectively to get more of what we want in life, which will in turn give us more psych energy. The problem is that the timing may be different. We may have to spend some now in order to get a bigger payoff later. This is called "investing".
A powerful person becomes so because he/she did alot of investing.
Of course, we mortals have to also have some "income" (or additional returns from investing) to keep our account full enough to be able to expend energy. Otherwise, bankruptcy occurs. So we need lots of short-term, high/good payoff tactics.
I offer my lists as an example of a way you could do this or at least something to stimulate your own way of doing them that might be better.
AN INTERESTING ANALOGY WITH WISDOM/KNOWLEDGE/AWARENESS
You could call wisdom a resource of being able to make wise choices, an accumulation of knowledge examined for its effectiveness and then programmed in, for recall when needed.
This is like filling up a tank, but the resource can be used and not depleted.
The tank level is simply an accumulation of deposits
In life, we will often "fault" ourselves for our mistakes and, another word for it, what we do wrong. And, of course, as above, this depletes our psychological energy. One obvious observation here is that if we stop faulting ourselves, we will not deplete our psychological energy!
If we look at the way that we accumulate wisdom (or "life knowledge"), it is basically "one deposit at a time" until we get to a pretty-well filled up level in our tank.
If we, however, started out in life with toxic ideas or foolish beliefs deposited into our tanks, then our wisdom accumulation process would have to necessarily be slowed down, as we have to remove the toxic beliefs that are polluting our wisdom tank and then figure out what to put back in - which means we'd have to look at our beliefs to see if they are true (i.e. do they have a good result) and then figure out what a good, true belief would be. If we don't do the latter, then, of course, we won't have much wisdom - and we'll be living in a rotten environment, toxic to our psychology and/or effectiveness in life.
At some point, hopefully, you might add the realization that will have you no longer faulting yourself - which will result in less depletion and more deposits.
There is no fault
That realization is, indeed, just simple math (arithmetic mostly). Your tank gets added to one piece at a time. If it is not added to in your childhood or wrong ideas are added, your tank level will suck. But are you at fault for that? (Of course, you will suffer for it, but you don't have to hold yourself wrong for that!)
No. You simply have a low level of wisdom in your tank. And from that low level of wisdom, you're likely not to be wise enough to gain in wisdom very rapidly, so your level will remain lower.
But are you "at fault" for that? Or is simply that you have only the ability and wisdom you have as a result of your not having more ability and wisdom to be able to have more ability and more wisdom?
The latter is true, of course.
The wisdom that frees one up from all faulting
And that brings us to what, I absolutely believe, is the wisdom that is as follows:
I (or anyone else) always will do the best I can, but that it can only be done within the current limits of my wisdom/knowledge/awareness. I can do no better than I know how at the time. The fault, therefore, is not with me, but in the lack of sufficient accumulated wisdom/knowledge to be able to do it better! (Duh!) Hence, I need spend no energy in faulting myself and I can, instead, spend my energy on eliminating the lack of wisdom/knowledge.
Essentially, it is that I only have the accumulated level in my tank that was possible, given my life and prior levels of awareness.
And, now, onto accumulating the wisdom/knowledge that will have me getting even more of what I want - and never faulting myself in my life!
This is a difficult concept to "get" at first, but it is vital to understand it. Once you reason it out, it will be with you forever and ever - and you'll no longer make yourself wrong nor anyone else - and you'll stop wasting psych energy units on anger, resentment, blaming, and then unraveling it all by struggling with forgiving - indeed, you'll not ever need to forgive yourself or anyone else, as you will not have made them wrong in the first place!