I have nothing against coping statements. Even when they are clichés, over-used, or factually inaccurate. If it helps get you through something toughs, I’m all for it. I have several of my own that have become my mantras. What I do take issue with, is when a statement become twisted, and actually ends up making you feel worse, instead of better.
Case in point. One of my biggest gripes is people who just throw out “It is what it is”, regardless of the situation. This sentence can be appropriate in some situations, of course. If I am complaining about the rain, for example, and whining about how the weather is ruining my day, then that might be a situation where you toss out “It is what it is”. Why? Because it’s a situation that I have zero control over. I can’t change the weather. I can accept it, and maybe change my attitude, and hopefully move on. That’s about it.
But when I hear someone complain about being miserable because they fight with their spouse all the time, how they are failing a class, or how they hate their job, I take issue with them shrugging and saying “It is what it is”. Because it’s not! These are situations where you can be proactive, problem solve, and make improvements. But simply saying “it is what it is” feels negative, resigned, and dis-empowering. I feel like people throw it out there thinking that are handling the situation wisely and maturely…but sometimes I feel it’s moreso avoidance, or even self-pitying.
The second one that gets to me is people saying “It could be worse…” (or, its many derivatives, such as “look on the bright side”, etc.). Don’t get me wrong. This saying also has a place. If I’m being a drama queen or over-reacting to a situation, it’s often good to remind myself that things could be worse. It provides perspective, calms me down, and humbles me. I think the problem arises is when a) other people throw this in our face and b) when we go so far as to not cut ourselves any slack, or offer any sympathy. Because let’s face it. No matter how bad of a situation you’re in, things can, of course, always be worse. Somewhere, someone in the Universe has it worse. So if you’re constantly reminding yourself of this, you’re likely minimizing some of the things you legitimately have a right to be distressed about.
If someone were to tell me that they were devastated because their dog died, for example, I’m not going to tell them about some horrible story I saw on the news about a war-torn country (or whatever), ask them to think about the comparison, and basically imply that they “get over it”.
I’m sure there are several other sayings that are misused (feel free to comment and share any that come to mind 😊). So, while I’m not saying we should scrap these ones all together, I am saying that we should use them a little more mindfully, instead of spewing them out automatically, like a knee-jerk reaction. Because instead of helping us cope, they might actually be causing us to suppress our emotions, and deny us the opportunity to work something out. And that doesn’t sound healthy!