One Phrase, Many Meanings

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Image credit: photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash.

Life is as it is, we take it to be hard or easy. It’s all about our perception, attitude and level of gratitude.

Geraldine Vermaak.

When you hear the phrase, “It is what it is,” do you feel relaxed? Do you feel like screaming? Or do you go into an apathetic or complacent place? More and more we are hearing others, and ourselves, saying, “It is what it is.” What exactly does this mean?

It means different things to different people and it means different things depending on the situation or where we may be in a given moment. Determining what the phrase means to us can allow us to learn a lot about ourselves.

What Does The Phrase Mean?

“It is what it is,” means different things depending on who is saying it and their perspective on life. The phrase would mean one thing to a person who tends to have more of a hopeful nature and is working toward letting things go that are outside of our control. It means something entirely different to the person saying it if they tend to be of a more negative nature. To them the expression might be about giving up or giving in.

For some of us it may be an acceptance of what is happening. Similar to that of the serenity prayer that talks about accepting things we cannot change. For others it may have a more negative connotation, meaning, “screw it”, or “who cares.”

What I do know is that I am hearing, “It is what it is,” in psychotherapy as well as so many other venues. People are using this phrase on an increasing basis regarding so many situations, in various circumstances regardless of age, culture or ethnicity and often with different perspectives about the phrase. So what we mean when we use this expression may not be how someone else interprets it.

One Phrase With Many Meanings 

Some of us may say, “It is what it is”, to our partner, friend, family member or colleague…

  • In a passive aggressive way which another may interpret to be insensitive or hurtful.
  • Perhaps when we are not wanting to do something.
  • To avoid taking responsibility.
  • If we are minimizing or not paying attention to what the other person is saying.
  • In realizing we can’t change the past and instead choose to focus on the present or the future.

For some of us we may say it, or think it is what is as a way of…

  • Avoiding addressing what we may need to talk about if the subject is… 

                 Too hard, too uncomfortable, too scary, or too anxiety-provoking.

  • To avoid interaction with someone, being flippant, or dismissing the topic as if rationalizing “That’s just who he is.” 

What Does Saying This Say About Us?

What may be most important is what we mean when we say, or think this. Determining what we believe the meaning behind the expression, may tell us a great deal about ourselves, our perceptions, our views of life, and our relationships. 

Discover more tips on determining our personal meaning behind the phrase, "It Is What It Is", from my complete article.

My wish for you today is that you may embrace a positive outlook that fills your day with peace and serenity.

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