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The Perils of Intuition

(Please note: The subject matter of this blog may disturb some readers)

By Lily Jedynak, Ph.D. on January 12, 2024

Dr. Lily Jedynak is an exceptionally gifted multipotentialite. As a professional coach she helps women to flourish as they bring their gifts to the world. She holds six university degrees and is passionate about creativity as a writer, musician, and artist. She lives in Adelaide, South Australia.

The Perils of Intuition

***Please note: The subject matter of this blog may disturb some readers who might be harmed when reading about animal cruelty though there is no graphic content.***

When a good friend announced she was getting another puppy I was overjoyed. Since the time I could toddle I’ve been a devoted dog lover. I’ve rescued dogs from all sorts of unfortunate situations, and, in turn, they have rescued me.

My friend sent me photos of puppies she was trying to choose from online. I was smitten with all of them. Instant love.

A few days later the big decision was made, and my friend was a week away from receiving a beautiful, thirteen-month-old pedigree pooch called “Honey”.

In the ensuing days, an intuitive niggle wormed its way around the edges of my awareness. An unsettled gut. A dark cloud hovered. I felt a growing sense of urgency to find out more

about Honey. I resisted. Did I want a puppy? No. Yes. Maybe. It wasn’t my MO. No one needed rescuing as far as I could tell.

Then, three nights before Honey was due to arrive from interstate, I couldn’t stop the itch to search the internet. I found a dog breeder’s website that I thought my friend was using. I sent a text message to ask if Honey had been bought from this breeder. “Yes,” my friend replied.

The website was professional, and all the dogs’ photos twanged my heartstrings. Puppies were available and on sale. Something still felt off. I backtracked to the Google search and spotted two articles. One was written by the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and another by the ABC public TV broadcasting station. Both had significant cred. I read the articles with a growing sense of horror. Long story short, the dog breeders had been taken to court for over-breeding. Laws in Australia attempt to prevent this but how well the rules and regulations are enforced is questionable. That aside, the

breeders had been identified as abusive and were being fined. But given that their business had an annual income of two million dollars, the penalty seemed paltry.

My nervous system was a mess. Dysregulated. Flooded. What to do? Send the information to my friend or not? She would want to know… or would she?

You can predict what happened next. I sent the article links to my friend asking whether she’d seen them. “No,” she replied. About five minutes later I received another text saying that Honey “wouldn’t be coming from those poor dogs.” My first thought was, “How do you know?” I refrained from commenting. Instead, I texted about the income the breeder was earning. My friend asked, “Where did you read that?” I sent a screenshot.

Minutes passed ever so slowly. Another text message arrived saying that her previous two dogs had come from this breeder, and they’d been happy, healthy, well-adjusted dogs. I partially agreed. One of her dogs had died of cancer at the age of eight. The other one, an absolute angel, was still alive, aged five. My friend wrote that perhaps she was rescuing Honey from life as a breeding dog. “Maybe,” I thought.

For about fifteen minutes there was “radio silence”. Then my friend sent this message, “You’ve put a big dampener on the little one arriving. Feeling very guilty for being part of their operation.”

I felt riven with guilt, too. At the same time, the intuitive niggle that had become a tsunami vanished. I wrote back, “Oh no, that wasn’t my intention. So sorry this has happened. I shouldn’t have stuck my big nose in.”

I hardly slept that night. I tossed and turned and questioned why I felt guilty. Had I done something wrong? Was it even my guilt? Why had I felt so compelled to send those articles? Why couldn’t I have kept silent? What had I achieved?

I felt like a poorly timed messenger, and you know what happens to them sometimes… they get shot.

Intuition gets touted as this magical, positive adventure and generally, it’s all of that and more. But being “tuned in” doesn’t always mean that good things will naturally result. Sometimes a great friendship comes under question and goes awry. Or something that should be exciting and wonderful turns out to have a black underbelly. That’s painful stuff.

Is intuition at fault? Could it be the activation of trauma that sometimes surrounds its usage? Could it be a sign of empathy? Could it be why intuition gets suppressed, squashed, annihilated? The usual reasons for this phenomenon are stress, anxiety, depression, mental or emotional fatigue, and traumatic events. Well, I’ve had my fair share of all of them, especially as a dog lover. Plus, there’s this proverb, “Curiosity killed the cat”, as in being curious about other people’s affairs could get you into trouble. It’s interesting that the original form of the proverb was, “Care killed the cat”.

It's widely known that bright people who rely on intuition can be led astray. In recent history, President George W. Bush explained to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post that he was a “gut player” who relied on his instincts. Hence his decision to launch the Iraq war. And then there’s King Solomon’s wisdom: “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool.” Then there’s the acronym that going with your G.U.T. instinct to decide something is, “Given Up Thinking”. Psychological science is replete with examples of smart people making predictable and sometimes costly intuitive errors.

Wisdom in hindsight, I wouldn’t have sent the articles to my friend at that point in time. The decision to purchase Honey had already been made. The ship had sailed. Timing is everything.

Perhaps Honey has been rescued from the life of a breeding dog. This can sometimes happen to puppies that don’t find a forever home. Or they get euthanized, not always humanely. I wonder who will rescue the next dog that takes Honey’s place.

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