Posted by: Donna Cunningham | May 9, 2011

When Saying ‘No’ Can Get You to ‘Yes’

© by guest blogger, Melanie Harth, PhD of on March 2, 2011

Recently, I accepted a job offer that looked great: good money, not too many hours, pleasant work environment, good people … everything we’re supposed to want in a job, right?

There was only one fly sticking up in that ointment … my heart wasn’t singing. Worse, I started to get a migraine every time I thought about doing it. A little lesson in getting stuck while traveling down the path of personal and professional transformation was presenting itself.

  • “You’ve had the power to restore yourself all along, my dear.”
  • “Dang. This is EXACTLY what I’ve been asking for.” [My first mistake.]
  • “I can do this. I can do anything I set my mind on!” [My second mistake.]
  • ” _______________ (fill in the blank with infinite variations of denying the truth of the heart of the matter, avoiding the most important piece of information, and generally trying to do what I was supposed to do rather than what I actually wanted to do).” [My third mistake.]

The first mistake. I wasn’t clear enough when stating my intentions, asking for help in co-creating what I want. I just asked for a job. And that’s what I got. What I’m now asking for is much more specific: Guide me to income from sources that allow my heart to sing. Loudly. And while we’re at it, show me more of what I love [in case I may have missed something]. Please and thank you.

The second mistake. I really used to think I could do anything, although I did concede that there might be a price to pay for some of it. I believed this until I had my ass so thoroughly kicked by the universe, and my own mis-guided choices, that I thought I would die in the trying. Stubborn, yes. Gifted and talented, yes. Strong, indeed. Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound? No freakin’ way. What a train wreck I was living!

One of the treasures that still shines out of that nightmare experience is the knowledge of my limits. I don’t have a magic Wonder Woman outfit, or Superman’s cape to throw over my too-tired shoulders when something needs doing. I woke up. Cost me an awful lot. But I woke up.

The third mistake. Rationalizing, pretending, fantasizing, wishing very very hard for what isn’t actually real, listening to family/cultural/internal shadow voices that try so hard to keep me safe that I’m suffocating. Sigh. I find that the most difficult part of speaking one’s truth can be to hear it. To speak it to myself.

Once that Grand Canyon of hearing my own truth has been jumped, I’m free to run wild through the landscape of beauty and possibility. It’s liberating. It is redemption, each time I’m able to stand on behalf of my deep longings and desires. This is what makes life worth living.

These are some of the jewels I pick up on the soft, moist ground of spring’s promise.

So, what’s the end of the story? I called the next day, let that job go. And, I swear, had another opportunity walk right in the now-open door.

How about you, Readers? Has getting the courage to say no ever opened up even better doors for you? And have you ever regretted saying yes when you really wanted to say no? Tell us about it in the comment section.

Dr. Melanie Harth is a consultant, strategist and motivational speaker specializing in creative addiction recovery.  She’s an empowerment expert, a writer and an artist, and trained as a spiritual psychologist. She’s also an avid student of astrology.  You can reach her at 505-982-3904, or visit her blog at


  1. I agree, you have to follow the promptings of the Heart to stay in harmony with the Life force. This is s major teaching and realization that fate likes to test until it becomes second nature.

    • I’ve had my challenges with this over the years, I must say. Understanding how to hear our hearts is something that astrology can really help with, I think. It would be an interesting project for me to add into the upcoming Saturn Return. Thanks! Melanie

  2. Beautiful and inspirational, but where does it lead to down the path? The other opportunity came, but what if it didn’t?
    what if you break the imperfect relationship and no other ‘right one’ comes along for years and years? what if you let go of the money-job, bc the ‘heart isn’t singing’, and later you realize your heart is very hard to please, and the job that makes it sing is one that hardly pays the bills, or puts you under such constant stress that you break down?

    we want many things. we need many things to be happy, to feel safe, to survive. sometimes these things don’t come easy or get along well together. sometimes getting one means sacrificing the other. I got burned. I followed my heart and it lead me nowhere. so either the Universe has bigger plans that I can see, or there is no plan, and such decisions may cost dearly. there’s no amount of realism and strategy that can save you from the unknown.

    cos in the end, there’s so much lack one can take and still have one’s heart singing, you know… somehow, in order for it to sing, the basic needs must be met first.

    • I agree with you. Screw “my heart singing” at work, I’d rather be fed on a daily basis and not have to be homeless or move in with my mother. Things that make my heart sing are not suitable for a living wage and health insurance. As someone pointed out to me the other day, your life’s purpose can be about your hobbies rather than your day job.

      As for the relationships…seven years and nobody has come along at all. I’m still not sorry that that last relationship ended, but I knew darned well that if that one broke up, finding another would be nigh impossible. And it has been.

      • I think the key here is balance- sometimes we can’t have just one thing fulfill our emotional/spiritual needs and the practical realities of life. It happens, but it’s rare. Any great artist you talk to says that luck is the key, hard work and passion will get you so far but it’s getting (and making the most of) a good break.

        For me recent events have illustrated this, fwiw. I long was attracted to science and the arts, but everyone told me I had to place all the eggs in one basket. I chose music (which is strongly indicated by chart aspects, btw, for a career) but was doing so-so. Better than many peers and was getting by for a while, but barely. I got to a crisis point (long story) and decided to go back into “science”, by applying for acupuncture and TCM school. Been here a week in this new city and besides feeling the neurons fire up again and FINALLY being in a school with enthusiastic students AND teachers, I found my “dream” apartment (on the high side of my range but within limits), have been called for at least one gig a day in the week+ I’ve been here (some days 2 gigs), and scored a sweet job in the school’s clinic where I can learn some ropes, make my presence known, and even get some studying in. Oh yeah, and make a decent chunk of bread. Would all of this have happened if I held out for my “passion”. Nope. Trying to incorporate my interests and practicality, knowing there will be hard work involved, seemed to do the trick.

      • I feel for you btw on the relationship thing. No relationships for me, EVER. Blegh. But I think to a certain extent one DOES have to be true to oneself here. Knowing that compromise might not make you happy either. Give a guy a chance, but if it’s not happening, it’s better for both to let it go. What can you do to make your life more complete without a dude? It’s definitely hard but if you can figure out ways to use up that energy it helps- teaching or helping others, especially kids or elderly or the infirm, exercise- especially team sports, playing music, creative arts, etc.? It seems to help. I’m sure you’ve heard these things before but it’s a good reminder anyway

      • Jennifer, thanks so much for your honesty. Of course our life’s purpose can be found outside a day job. I have one! But that day job is connected with my soul’s calling. Is it possible to create both in the same place, rather than have it be an either/or? Where can we look in our charts for those places of balance and connection and integration, rather than being too far over to one edge of the polarity?
        We always — no matter what — have choices. How we come to those choices matters. A lot. How we talk about and language our reality matters a lot, too. We have choices; we co-create our reality.
        I find the most profound guidance in my astro chart; that’s where I look for what choices are actually presenting themselves, rather what my ego is making up. Or what might be swirling through the Neptune fog. Or what Pluto is desperately trying to get me to understand.
        Looking at my chart is like moving at warp speed through my ego, and out into the greater cosmos. It helps. A lot. It changes the whole ball game, and offers a much greater array of choices, based on the deeper meaning of life itself. Take good care! Melanie

    • So many terrific points you make … thank you. In my experience, there is tremendous power in how we define things such as what we want and need. The word “sacrifice” actually has a holy meaning: to offer something precious to a deity. There have been plenty of times in my life when I wasn’t sure I’d survive. The only realistic meaning-making strategy was for me to surrender to the higher forces at work during those times. Holding the paradox, finding the balance points, being willing to surrender some cognitive pseudo-control to a Higher Power/the Universe/the 12th house/Pluto … whatever can really help lessen my fear-based clutching and open up the space into a more expansive experience.

  3. Donna, thank you for sharing Melanie’s blog with us. Melanie, I like your writing style and enjoyed reading around Say Yes. Great job with the blog.

    Your post reminds me that: Navigating logic vs feelings – aka Mind vs Body, or Should vs Want – is just the darnedest human thing sometimes! I’m glad your call here worked out so well.

    Astrologically, I think a ‘singing heart’ is a beautiful ideal image for solar self-expression, the Sun.

    • pdw: You bring up a good point, one that I’m working with myself these days. It is being said by many great teachers that part of what we’re being asked to understand is how to integrate more fully our mind/body/cognitive/soul-based … parts. We’re so desperately holding onto to the smaller pieces of ourselves, thinking that this is where our redemption lies, that we don’t have enough space to expand into the greater beings we actually are. (Hard to articulate this, sorry for the awkwardness — dang!)
      For me, I know that my small, fear-based responses and choices and clutchings bring just those things into my world. And I do it every day. Every. Day.
      What to say? We’re human. Surrendering to that reality, which my ego sure doesn’t want to do, ain’t easy. But we’re also so beautiful, so touching, in our humanness, at the same time. I find great solace in the early morning bird song, I really do. And in watching something silly, like “Glee.”
      And in safe places such as this site, that Donna’s created, constantly reminding me that we’re all in it together. Thank goodness for good companions!

  4. Just in time … thanks!

  5. “Guide me to income from sources that allow my heart to sing. Loudly. And while we’re at it, show me more of what I love [in case I may have missed something]. Please and thank you.”

    No better way to start the day than to come across an intention that I’ve been struggling to formulate. Thanks for posting this Donna! It was the perfect timing for me 🙂

  6. Love the intention! My biggest no ever was leaving home to go the university instead of staying home and be an unpaid babysitter for my babysister. It seemed very difficult at the time, but in hindsight is the best thing I ever did.

    • Perfect example of letting go, surrendering to the mysteries — after all, what do we really know about anything? Thanks for sharing. Melanie

  7. Asking for a divorce is the biggest “no” I’ve said lately, and I had to keep saying it repeatedly for months. It was scary, because I had not developed a substantial income of my own, so I had to negotiate for a settlement out of money my husband considered to be his sole property. But my heart has been singing ever since I moved out, and I did finally get a settlement that will take care of my needs until I do develop that income, something I am working on with the universe’s help. The universe has really come through for me so far, so I am confident it will come through for me again and I will be able to do what makes my heart sing and receive an income I can live happily on.

    Two books I recommend: Ask Your Guides by Sonia Choquette (this one has already produced amazing miracles in my life), and How to Think Like a Millionaire by Mark Fisher (which is reshaping my life now by reshaping my thought patterns – this is a far more spiritually oriented book than the title would suggest).

    • Margaret, you share beautifully about what can happen when we are able to say yes to ourselves. Each time we do, we build confidence that we can do it again. That we are supported by the Universe.
      I’ve had times in my life when I thought I was saying yes and only understood later that, in fact, I’d fallen into shadow material — which is pretty easy to see in one’s chart. The results don’t always feel like delicious, fluffy cosmically guided support. But that’s just because how I used to define “support” was fluffy and delicious. Saturn and Neptune and Pluto and Eris just don’t work that way, no matter how much I wish they did.
      Earth school. 🙂 . Gotta love the whole danged mess, no?

  8. The ongoing challenges of parenting a child then an adolescent and now a young man who has been labeled mentally ill have been a guiding force in my personal and professional lives..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: