Do you have a degree in psychology?
Would you like to have one of those?
Forget about applying to some expensive program at some fancy school. Book learning can't hold a candle to the real thing.
And you'll save some money.
Here’s what you need to do …
Go on a Sabbatical for a few weeks from phones and media and talking … yes, you can still make doctor’s appointments and call your friends and relatives and watch a movie or two … but for a few weeks, on a daily basis if you can, make a concerted effort to take a step back, look up, watch and listen and really observe people around you – friends, family and strangers – and how they interact with each other. In public places. In private places. One on one and in groups. Kids with adults. Kids with kids. Adults with adults. Older ones, Younger ones. Really watch and really listen. Put aside your own reasoning and opinions. Observe totally objectively. Make mental notes. Even better, get a notebook and write down notes about what you observe.
Then 2-3 times a week, get all alone and quiet for 15-30 minutes and pull out those notes. Recall a recent interaction you observed and write it out in story form in first person … NOT from YOUR perspective: I saw Sue bristle when Sam picked up the cat ; but from THEIR perspective: I (Sue) bristled when Sam picked up the cat; or, Sue bristled when I (Sam) picked up the cat.
Then write out the entire incident and conversation as it happened, but from each person’s perspective as they might have experienced it. If they were strangers to you, give them names. (If they are people you actually know, it might help you stay objective and emotionally neutral if you rename them.)
You will need to pull from your own life experience and imagination to get into each of their heads to know what they’re thinking, why they’re acting/reacting the way they are. Perhaps it was a heated exchange and each will have an opposing viewpoint and opinion. Perhaps it ended up being mutually humorous in some way and the two of them ended up bonding and feeling closer. Did they know each other? Were they strangers up until now? Will they become and remain friends? Will they end up hating each other?
You can make this exercise even more personal and enlightening if you pull from your own life. Especially if there’s a person in your life that rubs you the wrong way, or reacts to you in bewildering ways. Maybe a colleague or an acquaintance that you don’t quite get or who doesn’t get you. You know what happened between the two of you last week that wasn’t so pleasant. Sit down and write it all out as it happened from THEIR perspective. Try to pull yourself out of it … step back and remain a neutral observer.
Try this same exercise with the positive people and experiences in your life.
You will be amazed at what you’ll learn about yourself, others, and human nature in general.
You’re not going to learn any of the psychobabble terms and labels you would’ve picked up in that expensive college class.
And you’re not going to have a diploma to hang on your office wall, so, no, you’re not going to be a licensed, practicing psychologist.
But you are going to develop an uncanny ability to write and create the most amazing and interesting characters in the stories you’ll write … stories the rest of us can’t wait to read!