By Fr. Alexis Trader
In Andrew A. Lubusko’s 2006 dissertation on self-control and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, he notes that fatigue, emotional stress, and cognitive overload are primary factors in self-control failure. When we are tired, we become less aware of ourselves and what we are doing. When we are anxious, we are too worried about the future to be concerned with controlling ourselves in the present. When we are depressed, we are often so wrapped up in our past failures that present goals, such as self-control, seem pointless. And when we are thinking about solving this issue or that, how can we have mental energy left over to solve the problem of ourselves in the present moment. Clearly, being tired, upset, and distracted are psychological states that make continued self-control in the face of temptations difficult and perhaps in the long run impossible. And in contemporary life, such conditions are almost our default state, an unavoidable part of the fabric of human life. So what are we to do when we desire self-control, but find ourselves too tired, too anxious, too depressed, or too overwhelmed to control anything, much less ourselves?