Why Our Comfort Zone Prefers We Say Noby@poornima
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Why Our Comfort Zone Prefers We Say No

by Poornima VijayashankerJanuary 11th, 2017
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For many of us saying no is really hard.

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For many of us saying no is really hard.

We want to be helpful.

We don’t want to disappoint or let others down.

We know what rejection feels like and don’t want someone else to feel that way.

So we say yes instead.

We also say yes when we know we have the time and are capable of helping.

However, there are moments where all that reasoning goes out the window, and we quickly say, no.

Why are we quick to say no?

Barring someone attempting to ask us for our first born child, or to do something illegal or immoral, we are quick to say no when someone asks us to do something that is outside of our comfort zone.

Instead of admitting to it, we couch it in excuses like, “Oh I’m just sooo busy, I just don’t have the time…”

To make the receiver of the no feel better, we may go so far as to make recommendations or volunteer others who are better than us, “You should really ask Bob in accounting… he is awesome at X!”

What about YOU?

Why can’t you do it?

We’re afraid to push our comfort zone because we have a fixed mindset as opposed to a growth mindset.

Carol Dweck in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success describes the difference between the two:

Effort is for those who don’t have the ability.

People with the fixed mindset tell us, “If you have to work at something, you must not be good at it.” They add, “Things come easily to people who are true geniuses.”

Hence a fixed mindset subscribes to the notion that our talents and abilities are set, it’s a challenge to change them. Plus if we have to put in effort then it must mean we’re just not good enough.

Comfort is an indicator that we have a natural talent. Discomfort is an indicator that we don’t and we’re probably not capable of developing the talent.

Dweck continues:

Why is effort so terrifying? There are two reasons. One is that in the fixed mindset, great geniuses are not supposed to need it. So just needing it casts a shadow on your ability.

The second is that, as Nadja suggests, it robs you of all your excuses. Without effort, you can always say, “I could have been [fill in the blank].” But once you try, you can’t say that anymore.

Contrast that to the growth mindset, Dweck writes:

The growth mindset is the belief that abilities can be cultivated.

But it doesn’t tell you how much change is possible or how long change will take. And it doesn’t mean that everything, like preferences or values, can be changed.

The growth mindset also doesn’t mean everything that can be changed should be changed. We all need to accept some of our imperfections, especially the ones that don’t really harm our lives or the lives of others.

Most often people believe that the “gift” is the ability itself. Yet what feeds it is that constant, endless curiosity and challenge seeking.

With a growth mindset, average abilities can be cultivated further through discipline, effort, and coaching.

While there’s no guarantee that growth mindset will improve skills and talents, those with the growth mindset aren’t looking for that guarantee. They enjoy the process.

The next time we quickly say no and couch our discomfort in an excuse, it’s worth exploring whether we can push ourselves out of our comfort zone. It’s likely that we won’t be good at X right from the start, and we may not have a natural ability, but does that mean we shouldn’t at least try to put in some effort to explore?

Now I want to know when was the last time you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone and what did you discover about yourself in the process?

Let me know in the comments below!