My spiritual father had me read "The Ladder" about two years ago. It requires a lot of spiritual guidance to get through it. And one needs to be solid in their spiritual life, which includes attending the divine services regularly, doing your daily prayer rule, keeping the fasts, and other such things as prescribed by the Church and your spiritual father.
And the Philokalia is probably a bad idea anyway, so just avoid it for a while.
If you are looking for a good ascetical work, I'd recommend "Discourses and Sayings" of Abba Dorotheos. With all of these works mentioned, it is good to remember that their primary audience was/is monastics and so the application for a layman is probably going to be different.
P.S. Your profile says you are "Oriental Orthodox" but in the OCA. Can you explain that?