When young children first start participating in social life, their actions are vigilantly overseen by adults who are constantly on a knife’s edge for the potential to be embarrassed by a lack of decorum. Children have to be coaxed and, sometimes, threatened into “appropriate” behaviour for the comfort of adults who have long been lulled into accepting the rules of the social contract. Perhaps a good place to start with this conversation is asking why the natural instinct of children is often so contrary to what is deemed appropriate and why it is so important to train them to make adults comfortable?

I would not be so foolish to say that children should not be guided and nurtured towards safety for their own self-preservation, but the inspiration for this series was born out of reflecting on childhood experiences in which intuition was clearly guiding me, but acting on it meant being “inappropriate”. I believe most of us start out with a strong sense of intuition that is geared to protect us from harm, but because our interactions are so heavily reliant on verbal communication, it is dismissed. This reliance on verbal communication is also what makes social integration for people on the spectrum of neurodivergence so damaging – yet another reason to rethink it. Of relevance to this conversation is the dismissal of non-verbal communication that leads us to believe that our feelings are only real when we can identify and communicate them.

Here starts the chokehold of self-doubt many of us experience throughout our lifetimes. When confronted with discomfort that instructs us to abandon social protocol and self-preserve, the self-doubt that has displaced our intuition sends us into autopilot mode, relinquishing control of our actions to appropriate behaviour. It has now become rude, unladylike, disrespectful, insolent, unbecoming, and improper to trust our intuition thereby exposing us to all forms of danger. We rely more and more heavily on “the rules” to inform our sense of ethical and spiritual authority on matters of humanity – outsourcing our own humanity to a system governed by rules set to oppress us. By now, we have completely abandoned all sense of intuition and ascribed it to paranoia.

By this understanding, anyone who feels uneasy about things that are taken for granted as “the way things are” is displaying a form of dysfunction that can be soothed by recommitting to the system with more vigour and remembering that these feelings are of their own making – a perfect illustration of systemic gaslighting.

After many experiences in which intuition has been sidelined, intuition either makes a return to those who let it in and starts proving its worth in those who have learnt to trust their feelings or is simply lost to total disillusionment and submission to systems of oppression.

I believe it is in our best interests to regain that symbiosis with our intuition as we learn to trust that childhood voice that could not find the vocabulary to express itself. With the benefit of agency, we can learn to simply say: “No, I am not comfortable with this” and let our intuition have the last word.