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Iceni Magazine | May 30, 2024

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It Is What It Is

It is what it is!

Some people don’t like an ‘it is what it is’ approach to life.

They take challenges and setbacks more personally, reflecting on the whys and wherefores of what’s happened, but others find adopting a more philosophical mindset is the most effective way of moving forward, especially from difficult situations. They discover that being calm and pragmatic is a good way to remain grounded and regroup, whilst assessing choices and sourcing the next available options.      

Life happens. Certain things can’t be foreseen, like unexpectedly bad weather, the car breaking down or plans not turning out as anticipated. Even friends may not reply sometimes, or we don’t get invited, or lose out on a promotion that we felt was surely ours.  Things happen and there’s not much we can do about it, other than decide which is the best way to regroup and continue on our journey. 

However, some people find that they’ve a mountain to climb before they’re able to reach the point of being able to focus on next steps. 

At first they may spend time in blame mode, blaming others and becoming enmeshed in a loop of accusations, excuses and fault-finding. Yes, others may not have been as vigilant as they should have been, may not have performed vital checks or made appropriate allowances, but blaming others doesn’t resolve matters or help them to move on. It merely keeps them inert and stuck in the past. 

Speculating on ‘what if’ or ‘if only’ isn’t helpful either. The phrase, ‘hindsight gives 20/20 vision’ sums it up well and, of course, we’d all be perfect if we could dress-rehearse every situation before enacting it in real time. But circumstances could well have changed significantly since the original starting point.  Things may have progressed now and be very different. Opinions may have been revised, new people may now be in the picture, alternative wishes may have evolved over time.   

Looking at where we are right now is the most appropriate starting point in any situation. Being clear about the facts, about what’s happened, about where we are today and where we want to be, any impediments that may be holding us back, the help that’s available, things that need to be taken into account. There’s certainly enough to think about without bringing irrelevant, unhelpful extra considerations or recriminations into the mix. 

So, what’s so annoying about an ‘it is what it is’ approach? Is there perhaps irritation at the thought of someone moving on, whilst being allowed to get away with bad, inconsiderate behaviour, of them not being held accountable for their actions? Are they’re getting off scot free?  But does someone really ‘need to pay’?   

How wasteful is it to use time and energy in this way? Why make a drama out of a crisis when, in reality, others may not be as affected or bothered by what’s happened as you are. They may simply ‘not think’, or perhaps feel that they’re doing a good enough job and don’t expect everything to be crossed off or perfect before they do what they need to do. 

So, instead of apportioning blame, might it be more useful to dig deep and reflect on what resources are needed to resolve a holdup and move forward. Not everything is a learning point. Sometimes it simply is what it is! 

I remember a film producer who used to ‘story board’ every scene he was working on and plan for anything and everything that could possibly go wrong. He liked to be prepared and in control, but he took it to extremes and found that this approach was wearing him out. He was stressed, working long hours and not enjoying his job.  

We discussed how exhausting and time-consuming working this way was and he started to appreciate that he didn’t need to prepare so extensively. He’d been in the business for many years and was sufficiently experienced and competent to be able to handle whatever life threw his way, especially in a work scenario. He started to believe in himself more and in doing so improved his confidence levels.            

Hopefully, we can all learn from situations. If an event’s rained off it might mean that in future we make a plan B to cover wet eventualities. We take out insurance to cover potential mishaps and protect ourselves as much as possible. But, with the best will in the world, we can’t plan for every potential setback or outcome. 

Preparation is good. But life experience is an important resource too. Trust that you’re sufficiently experienced and resourced to be able to deal with most eventualities or at least know someone you can turn to in an emergency should you need to. Then there’s a good baseline in place; it is what it is after all! 

Article by Susan Leigh, South Manchester Counsellor & Hypnotherapist


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