I never pasted a "Question Authority" sticker on my car in the sixties, but I could use one now. Authority figures can be particularly strong blocks to intuition because it is easy to say, "They must know! After all, they're certified," or, "they have credentials."

Dr. Ruth used to say that she felt free to offer advice because her lack of credentials would discourage people from blind obedience. She has a point.

Dr. David Viscott's book, The Making of a Psychiatrist, is out of print and probably outdated; what's current is his questioning of white coated experts. Doctors, he says, tend to be especially arrogant when they're not sure what's going on. He tells a story of a woman who keeps complaining of pain in her leg while eminent psychiatrists say, "It's all in your mind." Finally an x-ray shows the leg is broken.

Authorities can block intuition by claiming expertise. They may even say things like, "Subjectively you feel pain but objectively you do not." A well-regarded career counselor told me three years ago, "You can't have a business over the phone. People have to see you before they do business with you." A real estate agent told me, "You can't sell your house by yourself. Serious buyers won't come." I did, in seventeen days.

Authorities may try ridicule: "You don't know what you're talking about." A coach once advised me to offer coaching to my friends. When I explained that I couldn't do that (my friends at the time were mostly academics who had no comprehension of career choice), he sneered, "What are you saying -- you don't have any friends?" My favorite is the line, "I probably know more about this than you do." When someone says that, they probably don't.

When all else fails, authorities intimidate. They yell. They interrupt. They cut you off. In my experience, that's a sign you're dealing with someone who's clueless.

Unfortunately, if you feel vulnerable and you really seek help, authorities can block your intuition the way a wall blocks a breeze. You hear a little voice saying, "That's not the way it works," and you squash it with, "Look, he's an expert."

We are most vulnerable to the influence of authority during a life transition because we are dealing with new situations and problems. We are often very conscious of lacking expertise.

If you've just moved cross-country to take a job, you may not know whom to trust. Someone says, "This apartment is the best you can do," and you hope she's telling the truth.

You investigate a new career and you're told, "You must get a degree" or, "All the good jobs are in London." You sigh and think, "I'll just forget the whole thing," and later realize you blew off the opportunity of a lifetime. Or you're advised, "This career is the wave of the future," only to be jobless and frustrated six months later.

When you're undergoing a life transition, make your own Question Authority sign. When you feel most confused and desperate, look carefully at the sign before you seek help. Consider making another sign: "Maybe they're wrong."

There is always more than one resource to advise you, and you probably have more options than you realize. Feeling trapped is a sign that intuition is blocked. Every expert, every advisor, every coach can be wrong sometimes. Even me.

Author's Bio: 

Cathy Goodwin, PhD, writes and coaches on career freedom and
intuitive decision-making.
Visit her at subscribe@movinglady.com and subscribe to free ezine with http://www.movinglady.com.