Natasha Coyle discusses why she’s no longer stressing about the things she can’t control.
The phrase “it is what it is” has been thrown around in many situations, usually to
deflect personal disappointment at how a situation has unfolded. But “it is what it is” are also the foundational words for practising the art of acceptance.
In the current socio-economic environment, when my chocolate cereal at Lidl is increasing by 10 pence each week, and the climate crisis means the UK weather is not able to decide whether it wants to rain or snow, manifesting the art of acceptance has personally helped me to not dwell on the things that I simply cannot control. While the mindset of “it is what it is” can be interpreted as a mode of thinking that may prohibit success, drive, and progress, I don’t believe acceptance is synonymous with defeat.
You may find yourself working hard and having created realistic steps towards reaching your goals, but the outcomes don’t quite unfold the way you wanted them to. Being frustrated and angry at those outcomes does not mean that you didn’t work hard enough. You could have worked to the best of your ability. Instead of admitting defeat and thinking that your best is simply not good enough, accepting the outcomes that happened differently is a healthy way for moving on from situations that simply don’t go your way.
Practising the art of acceptance has helped me to minimise my frustrations at past events,
which I have no power over and simply cannot change. Accepting a situation, rather than getting frustrated or upset, has ironically given me back control, allowing me to take a moment of reflection and be objective without my emotions making the calls for me. Was it truly a preventable situation? Then I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen again. If things were totally out of your control sometimes you just have to whisper to yourself, “it is what it is”.
Practising the art of acceptance is simultaneously practising mindfulness. If you accept that you have your limits and that not everything is in your control, life is so much more
fruitful (she says, when she was once the biggest control freak and could never make
spontaneous plans). I have come to realise that the bigger picture is simply out of my control. But I have also accepted that if I am passionate about something and use my skills, I may create a small ripple in that vast ocean. And it is the smallest things that can impact others without us knowing of it.
The art of acceptance is not necessarily a catalyst for causing social change, quite the opposite. Accepting social injustice only perpetuates it. What I’m advocating for is for one to practise the art of acceptance on a personal level. When friendships turn sour, or you grow apart from people, you can accept that you have positive memories with those people, but your life or your circumstances have changed. You accept that you’ve chosen different paths in life. I definitely don’t have the same friendship group that I did when I was at school, but accepting that I have positive memories with those people from my school years means that my perception of the past does not turn to bitterness, sadness, or overwhelming amounts of nostalgia. If I live in the past and dwell on it, I’m not letting myself enjoy the reality of my present and the possibilities of my future.
Now, I do fancy myself as a wannabe superwoman and think that I can do absolutely
anything and everything. While I do manifest that the only boundaries that exist are the ones that I put in front of myself, I am not in fact superwoman, and like everyone else, I cannot do Everything. Coming to terms with my personal limitations has been hard but it has allowed me to focus my energy in a positive manner on the things that I am passionate about and good at. It seems to be working out so far. So, if you’re stressing about life, my advice is to use the mantra “it is what it is” and let yourself have that moment of contemplation over whether what you’re stressing over is really worth it.