Is it? The more I thought about the phrase and its ramifications (empowerment/disempowerment), the more tangents, layers and possibilities I found. I’ve tried to verbalize my thoughts here without excessive babble, which was definitely a challenge. But, I think the discussion about this phrase is important. Here’s what I’ve got.
For the past week or so, I have been hearing “it is what it is” thrown around the office where I work. I guess I may have heard this phrase in the past, but never picked up on it as much as I did last week. I started noticing the words after I actually said them myself. As the words were leaving my mouth, time slowed. I almost felt a slight possession, as if I left my body and thought to myself “what are you about to say?/what are you saying?” I felt, then heard the words leave my lips; an exact repetition of what I had heard someone else saying earlier that morning.
This snagged my attention immediately. Why did I say that? What does the phrase even mean to me and why did I just spread that to somebody else? It was like I was trying this phrase on for size and something just felt completely wrong about the fit. I listened for those words the rest of the week, heard them an uncanny number of times and was starkly aware of how often I wanted but stopped myself from saying the contagious phrase.
So, what is behind this handful of words and why are they so easy to say? Some possibilities:
“It is what it is.” Said with a dismissive wave of the hand. No time or care to realize how the “it” will inevitably impact the day; just continue on without thought regarding what may be compromised.
“It is what it is.” Said with a shrug of the shoulder, a defeatist frown resigned to the lack of control and submissive to the new boundaries set into place.
“It is what it is.” Said with a nod of the head, accepting the situation as it has been laid out and acknowledging the new challenges, while attempting to work within the new confines of the reality.
The phrase. Almost like a magical spell. The words are simple, repetitive, and when I had said them, the transference of power was so evident to me that time even slowed down for me to witness the energetic exchange. Perhaps the sentiment held when saying the phrase empowers the conditions and the boundaries of whatever “it” is, by acknowledging them and allowing them to have an impact on perspective and choice. In addition, at least from my experience at the office, the phrase, those five small words, became an infectious unit – alive, powerful and readily used again. The repetition perpetuated the message and increased its strength.
This phenomena happened, coincidentally or not, during a week of government shutdown and the phrase was heard several times in a government office. A reflection of morale? A method of trying to find a solid ground, or personal control? Maybe.
So, I started thinking outside of this specific situation, trying to grasp another perspective. Phrases charged from the power given to them by users in turn perpetuate the normal status, making the phrases every day and used more often, thereby gaining more power and a stronger hold in the fabric of everyday normalcy. Okay, so the impact and lasting impression of certain words, of sayings is ultimately a learned normal. And changing the words, the sayings, changes the frame of normalcy.
However, regardless of the frame or even the picture, the choice to hold onto or give away your power remains with you. The cycle, the transfer stems from the individual decision, mine and yours.