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Hit The Books! – Why I’m Studying Psychology

“I need one of those baby monitors from my subconscious to my consciousness so I can know what the hell I’m really thinking about.” — Steven Wright

Before summer I had my heart set on getting into a behavioral science program. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the cut this year.

While I’m disappointed, there’s always next year. In the meantime I want to do something productive besides just work.

That’s when I stumble on a course in psychology at University of British Columbia on edX with Steven J. Barnes. It looks interesting, and I mull it over for all of 10 minutes before I enroll.

I’m about 2 weeks in now and I can feel it’s one of the best things I’ve done.

The primary reason is to do it for myself, because I’m curious about myself and other people. Why do we do what we do?

While I’m grateful to be able to help, advise, and guide people every day, the help I provide is built on experience and what I’ve researched on my own.

So far it’s worked out pretty well for me and the people I’ve helped. But I don’t want my ability to help others to stop there.

I want to know that I’m not just doling on advice that isn’t backed up with anything but my experiences, theories, and personal opinions.

University Of British Columbia Library

Wohoo! Edjewkayshun!

OK, if that’s the case, then why does a piece of paper matter so much?

Because it gives me confidence in that what I’m saying is built on a strong foundation. I want to be able to back it up with something more than what I’ve got.

It’s like having someone vouch for you. Someone to say that you’ve put in the work and received proper education. It helps build trust and confidence.

Now, even with that piece of paper you still have to put in the work. Every day.

The way it is now is that I’m putting in the work, but that I’ve skipped a step of the process. That part is formal education.

I didn’t realize at first that it might be in my vested interest as well as that of my clients. I put in the work, apparently I did well, and people recommended me.

There’s a lot to say about putting in the work, but without education you don’t know what your blind spots are. As long as things work then you don’t need to address them, and I want to be exposed to that, I want to address them.

I’m fortunate in that I haven’t come across too many instances where I couldn’t handle the situation. Whenever I couldn’t handle it, at least I knew where to direct the clients.

One blind spot is that I didn’t know that there was a specific field in psychology dedicated to the thing I’m doing. It’s simply called counseling psychology.

It focuses on improving people’s careers, social skills, emotional skills, and other aspects of the lives of otherwise psychologically healthy individuals.

That’s what I’m doing now, and what I want to continue doing.

It’s important for me to help people live up to their potential. I know it sounds corny but let me explain why.

I’ve let myself be convinced by people that I’ve got this ”cap” on what I can and can’t achieve with my life. For the longest time I believed it. Little by little, and with the help of others, I came to understand that I’d been sold a lie, and that I could do much more than I imagined.

Now, some people turn to me thinking that I can help resolve their trauma and issues. When that happens I quickly explain that I don’t do that, and they should find a psychologist who can help them work it through.

The people I help aren’t dealing with any serious psychological issues. They just lack the tools to figure things out on their own. Just like I did. Whether their issues are with their creativity, career, solving a problem, etc.

These people also need someone who genuinely listens to them, their needs, and helps them understand why they do what they do, what options are available to them, and tools for learning how to think rather than what to think.

It’s also about helping people understand that they aren’t their achievements. That just because society might push one concept of success, it isn’t what matters. What matters is that you’re happy with life.

I don’t mean you go around with a broad smile even when things are objectively shit, but that your general happiness isn’t dependent on some outward measure like money or what society views as being a successful person. You need to define what success looks like for you.

I like 80’s action shows like Miami Vice, The A-Team, MacGyver, Magnum P.I, Knight Rider, and The Fall Guy.

The idea that excites me to this day is that most of them work outside the regular system. Somehow, I admire that. I can relate to it.

What I failed to understand that even though they’re fictional beings they had formal education and/or training before embarking on it.

The were, in order of appearance: police, United States Army Special Forces, bomb team technician, Navy SEAL, police again, and stuntman.

What I’ve got under my belt is high school, various jobs, songwriting, music production, hard work and 500 books.

While it’s something, it doesn’t lend as much credence to a career in coaching as a degree in psychology.

What I’m getting at here is that it’s a matter of balance.

There’s a lot of resources out there to help educate you, I suggest you turn to places that have a proven track record of providing proper education.

Putting in the work matters. It matters a lot.

But all the hard work in the world doesn’t guarantee a firm foundation to stand on.


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