Oftentimes, it’s challenging to make sense of our lives and it feels that life often happens to us. Nobody has total control over their life and circumstances. With that being said, part of our job is to take control of the aspects that we can and have faith that the rest will work itself out.
There is a popular saying that is often used to understand the randomness of life, but there is another way of looking at the statement that can be empowering.
Are you ready?
The statement is…
Wait for it…
It is what it is
Traditionally, people use this statement when life happens to them. Guess what? Life happens to everybody. If you’re human, life happens. You are going to have bad days. You are going to have unexpected expenses. You are going to have disagreements. You are going to have rude waiters. And so on. Guess what? So, does everybody else.
Realize that there are two powerful parts of life. There is reality and there is your reaction to reality. This is where the saying, it is what it is can be separated into being a victim and being empowered.
Reality is what it is. Los Angeles traffic notoriously sucks. Paying taxes sucks. Dealing with a disability sucks. My speech impediment is the bane of my existence. Dealing with the coronavirus is an absolute a bear. You can do everything right and life will still set you back. There’s very little we can do about reality. It is what it is. In fact, this is where it is what it is is very empowering. One of the steps to becoming amazing is accepting reality. Accepting reality does not mean that you are excited about dealing with challenges or you at peace with the challenges that you have. It simply means that you accept the challenges that you are dealt. If you are a poker player, you cannot throw back the hands you were dealt. At no point was I at peace with my disability. To be frank, I hate being disabled. However, I absolutely love life.
The second part of any situation is your reaction to reality. This is where we must not accept that it is what it is. This is where we make life what we want it to be. No matter how big or how pedestrian a challenge is, we must make the most of our reaction to reality. When most people say it is what it is they are really saying, “why try?” In this context, you are not taking personal responsibility. If you are in a less than ideal situation, it’s up to you to make the best of the situation. My job is to make the best life possible despite my disability. If you deal with a bad economy, it’s up to you to work that much harder. If you deal with anxiety, it’s up to you to take self-care measures. There’s always something that you can do to make the situation at least a little better.
In my life, it was up to me to learn, love, and go after my goals. Nobody had any expectations for my life.
What many people do is they point at what they can’t control. Since it is what it is regarding what they can control, they extrapolate ideas into their entire life, which, unfortunately, is how most people interpret the situation. If the system is rigged, then I have no chance. If politics is broken, then why try?
The trick and the challenging part is understanding what we can’t control versus what we can control. This can be one of the most challenging parts of success. There are great truths about anything that you feel about your life. Without the process of trying and failing, you are never going to know the difference. It’s going to be a lifetime of learning and changing.
It is what it is can be empowering or it can be a crutch or an excuse.