Turning "It Is What It Is" into "What Can It Become?”


When we hear the saying, "It is what it is," it can feel like a comforting acceptance of reality. It's a phrase many of us use to acknowledge that sometimes, circumstances are beyond our control. But while there's a certain peace in accepting things as they are, this mindset can also be disempowering. Let’s explore why this seemingly benign phrase can hold us back and how adopting a proactive approach can lead to a more fulfilling life.

When we say to ourselves, "It is what it is," it often serves as a resignation to the status quo. It suggests that we are powerless to change our circumstances, that we must simply accept and endure whatever comes our way. While acceptance is a valuable skill, especially in situations we truly cannot change, this phrase can become a crutch that prevents us from taking proactive steps towards improvement. If we constantly tell ourselves "It is what it is," we might stop looking for solutions, stop dreaming about what could be different, and stop striving for better.

Imagine you're stuck in a job that you dislike. You might find yourself saying, "It is what it is," to cope with the daily grind. This mindset, while initially comforting, can prevent you from seeking new opportunities, improving your skills, or even just having a conversation with your boss about your dissatisfaction. However, the key isn't necessarily about changing the job itself but about changing how you show up in that space and how you react to your environment.

Changing our inner patterns affects how we relate to our current circumstances and environment. When we shift our inner dialogue and reactions, we start to see our external world differently. For instance, instead of dreading the daily tasks at your job, you can train yourself to find aspects of your work that you enjoy or areas where you can grow. This doesn't change the job itself but transforms your experience of it.


On the other hand, a proactive mindset encourages us to view challenges and setbacks as opportunities for development. Instead of saying "It is what it is," we can ask ourselves, "How can I change my response to this?" or "What can I learn from this situation?" This shift in perspective opens up a world of possibilities. It empowers us to take control of our lives and make active choices that align with our goals and aspirations.

Consider the story of Thomas Edison, who famously said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Edison's perspective enabled him to view each failure as a step closer to success. If he had resigned himself to "It is what it is" after his first few failures, he might never have invented the light bulb. This is a powerful example of how embracing a proactive approach can lead to remarkable achievements.

Moreover, adopting a proactive mindset can significantly impact our mental and emotional wellbeing. When we believe that our efforts can lead to growth or expansion, we are more likely to feel motivated and engaged. This sense of agency and purpose can reduce feelings of helplessness and depression. It's about shifting from a passive acceptance to an active engagement with our lives.

Training our inner world to align with our desired outer experiences is crucial. Our mind, emotions, and body create the foundation of our inner experience, which in turn shapes our perception of the world. By mastering our inner world, we can transform our reality. This means recognizing that "It is what it is" doesn't have to be the end of the story. We have the power to change our inner dialogue and, as a result, our outer circumstances.

Changing our inner patterns means rewiring our habitual responses to life's events. Instead of reacting with frustration or resignation, we can learn to respond with curiosity and openness. For example, if a colleague at work is consistently difficult, rather than thinking, "It is what it is," and feeling helpless, you could work on changing your internal reaction. Approach interactions with this colleague as opportunities to practice patience and empathy. Over time, you might find that your improved responses lead to a better working relationship, even if the colleague's behavior hasn't changed.


Additionally, Carol Dweck's research on mindset highlights the profound impact of our beliefs about our abilities. Dweck found that individuals who believe their abilities can be developed through dedication and effort achieve more than those who believe their abilities are fixed traits. This mindset not only fosters a love for learning but also resilience in the face of challenges. It’s about transforming "It is what it is" into "What can it become?"

In practical terms, shifting away from "It is what it is" involves several steps. Start by challenging the narrative. When you catch yourself thinking or saying "It is what it is," pause and ask yourself if there’s something you can do to change the situation. What can you contribute, or give to that space in your life? Even small actions can lead to significant changes over time. Next, cultivate curiosity. Instead of resigning yourself to circumstances, get curious about potential solutions and new approaches. Finally, surround yourself with proactive individuals who inspire and support your journey.

While "It is what it is" can offer temporary solace, it ultimately limits our potential and keeps us anchored in the present without consideration for the future. Embracing a proactive mindset, on the other hand, empowers us to take charge of our lives, continuously improve, and create a reality that aligns with our deepest aspirations. Remember, the power to transform your life lies within you. It's not just about accepting what is; it's about envisioning and working towards what could be. By changing our inner patterns, we not only change our reactions but also transform how we relate to our current circumstances, leading to a more empowered and fulfilling life.