Elster's World

Friday, March 24, 2006

Laying On The Couch

Why do we do things we don’t want to do? I was thinking about this last night while doing something I didn’t want to do. Allow me to elaborate:

Some local buddies of mine (not to be confused with my real buddies from back in the day, who are now spread out over the universe – or at least New York, New Jersey and Canada) started a weekly Thursday night poker game about a year ago. I played with them for a while (I was new in the ‘hood and trying to make friends) but as the game became more competitive (and less friendly), I lost interest and dropped out. It also happened to be right around the time I was writing my book and didn’t want to sacrifice my writing time for the game.

So I stopped playing. My choice. Of course, they all decided that I stopped because I didn’t like one of the players. Not true. Well, it’s true that I don’t particularly care for this person, but that certainly isn’t why I stopped playing. And then when that person stopped playing, it was always “Come play again, X doesn’t come anymore”, followed by me patiently explaining (for the 1,342nd time) that person X was never the reason I stopped playing to begin with. Urgh. (Bangs head against wall repeatedly.)

Anyway, I got the email last night. “A bunch of players can’t make it tonight, we need you to fill in. Oh and by the way, person X isn’t going to be there”. Did I say urgh already? So despite the fact that I had no interest in going, I went. (Oh and on a side note, I won the first of the two tournament style games. Go me.)

But the question is, why did I go? What drives people to do things they don’t want to do? Certainly, there are different categories. Some things we do out of necessity (see any of a dozen of my infamous hate job/work because I need to feed my family posts). Others we do because it’s the “right thing to do” like visiting sick people in the hospital. No one LIKES going to the hospital, but you bite down on a stick and suck it up.

But then we come to the other side of the spectrum. Those things we do out of peer pressure or simply doing a “bad thing” that you cannot control. My transgression falls in the former category. I bowed to peer pressure. I went because I am on the periphery with these guys (fine with me) but Mrs. Elster is pretty tight with their wives. Ergo I need to “make an effort” to be friendly with these guys. Thus, I end up saying “yes, I will come”, and then bitching about it all night. And that bothers me. I hate peer pressure. I have spent the last ten years learning not to care what other people think about me. Believe me, it ain’t an easy thing to do and obviously I’m still a work in progress.

My point? None. But I like working through my issues. It makes me feel better. So thanks for being my shrink today. Where should I send the check?


  • next time you can tell them that you have a prior commitment and that you'll try and find them somebody else; they'll say no thanks and that will be the end of it -- or if they say yes, and u can't find someone, u'll say u tried.
    u actually might have wanted to go this time to see if it would be any better and now you're kicking yourself because its the same old crap its always been.
    Additionally, u actually might not meeting these guys for a short period of time, but not for a wasted poker nite.
    that's it.
    no charge!

    By Blogger judah h, at 11:52 AM  

  • The answer is very simple. You perceived that the negative aspect of going to play poker was lower than the negative aspect of not playing poker. Like many people, your mistake was that you focused on a very short-term analysis.

    Why do people eat unhealthy, even though they know it is bad for their health? Because they only focus on the short-term. In a cost-benefit analysis, people very often look only at the short-term certainties, not the long-term contingencies.

    This type of reasoning applies to almost all decisions that one makes.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 12:07 PM  

  • peer pressure - argh ....

    often i am persuded by people i dont even consider peers...

    By Blogger dietgarage, at 1:34 PM  

  • The funny thing is that I rarely ever sway to peer pressure. I don't care much about other's opiions of me to want to follow the crowds. Ah the sacrifices we make for our loved ones....

    By Blogger Elster, at 1:41 PM  

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