Why I Hate The Phrase, “It Is What It Is”

“It is what it is.’

I cannot understand why this phrase has become so popular, because it is incredibly stupid and redundant. I cringe every single time I hear someone utter it, and am dismayed by the number of people I know who have adopted this into their current communication behaviors. Why has it suddenly become so trendy to state the obvious in this manner? I can’t help but think that everyone who utters this string of words either hasn’t given much thought to the circular reasoning buried in it, or has developed a pathological and resigned attitude towards life in which circumstances are shrugged off. Come on guys, take a little responsibility, would you?

Copyright: rnl

If we look at res ipsa loquitur logic, this legal term indicates that someone is presumed to be negligent if that individual had control over what caused the injury. But since I took two years of Latin in high school, I am more intrigued by the original semantics and logic of this particular phrase. If we apply this idea of negligence to the statement, “it is what it is”, does that mean that people are blaming fate, or the lockdown, for the unraveling of society which has occurred in the past year and a half, or are they simply resigning themselves to fate when they utter that? All I know is that I have heard it far too often since spring of last year, and it is raising my ire.

I truly enjoy and appreciate what Ethan Ryan from The Fiddleback has to say about this idiotic statement:

“It is what it is” is a waste of words, a waste of breath. I mean, sure, I get it. It expresses the same sentiment as the French “C’est la vie!” But still, it irks me. It’s just a repetitive series of defeatist monosyllables. Why not just say “It is,” or for that matter, “It’s”?

Of course it is what it is! How could it be anything but it?

The only context in which that phrase would be appropriate would be if somebody asked “Is it what it is?” and you said, “Yes, it is what it is.” Presumably you’d have this conversation in an assisted living home with a demented loved one attempting to categorize an ice cream cone.

When you write “It is what it is” as a mathematical algorithm it looks like this:

it = it

In logic, this is called the law of identity, which states that an object is the same as itself. “A is A” is a tautology. Here are some more:

1 = 1

pineapple = pineapple

J = J

☺ = ☺

poop = poop

X = X

Those are analytical facts, verified by their consistency within the rules of a symbol system. But they’re also stupid and irrelevant. They’re true under all possible circumstances, and they demand little of the world for their truth. You don’t need evidence to back up the claim “Poop is what poop is.”

Here’s another tautology:


Seems logical, right? I don’t know, I’m not a logician.

What concerns me are rhetorical tautologies such as:

“I am what I am.” ~ God talking to Moses

“I yam what I yam.” ~ Popeye talking to Olive Oyl

“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” ~ Gertrude Stein

“A horse is a horse, of course, of course.” ~ the Mr. Ed theme song

“It is what it is what it is what it is what it is what it is what it is.” ~ this essay

It is it. A is A. But redundancies are redundant, aren’t they? Be succinct. Next time your umbrella breaks, or your toilet gets clogged, or your house burns down, just shrug and say “It’s.”

That’s obnoxious advice, I know. Defeatism gets us nowhere. Life is hard, but that’s no excuse to spout meaningless clichés. There are so many fantastic adjectives and nouns and verbs out there, humming in a deep pocket of your brain. Use your words. Don’t just say “It is what it is.” We already know that.

Wittgenstein said philosophy is the headache you get from banging your head up against the limits of language. When I came across that line I decided I was done studying philosophy. Years later, my head is still hurting. Philosophy is dangerous.



Ethan Ryan

People Who Say These 5 Words Have Very Low Emotional Intelligence

Please check out the post at:


I have copied and pasted the article here for you for convenience.

Who agrees with Bill Murphy’s assessment? Who disagrees?

Most people would probably agree with both Bill Murphy and Justin Bariso, and bristle when someone makes the statement, “I know how you feel.” No one truly knows how you feel, because your experience is unique and important. Such a statement does nothing to communicate empathy, but instead alienates the listener. Remember that sharing your particular experience in an effort to comfort the other person detracts from his or her own experience. It’s best to either keep your mouth shut, or just say, “I’m sorry that happened.” Be an ear to bend, not a barometer by which the other person must measure his or her own troubling experience.

By Bill Murphy Jr. of Inc.

They mean the exact opposite of what you think. But only emotionally intelligent people understand why.

The words hit me like a hurricane: “I know how you feel.”

They’re right there on pages 80 and 81 of my colleague Justin Bariso’s new book about emotional intelligence. They’re simple words, and real–and yet as Justin writes, they’re also absolutely the wrong thing to say to those who confide in you with their problems or fears.

These situations are tough, sometimes. You’ve been trusted. You want to develop rapport. You want to act the way somebody with real emotional intelligence would act.

You want to help.

Yet, rather than creating a connection, “I know how you feel” and other phrases like it build a wall between you and the other person.

The phrase suggests that you don’t truly understand what the other person feels at all. (Really, how could you?) It suggests that you feel the need to turn the conversation toward your experience, not his or hers, and that ultimately you don’t really care about that person’s concerns after all.

In other words, this five-word phrase sends a message that’s 100 percent the opposite of what you intend.

So don’t say, “I know how you feel.” Here’s what to do instead.

Shift vs. support

If you’ve read this far, I suspect you really do care about people. But like me perhaps, you don’t always realize the true effects of your words.

The solution, as sociologist Charles Derber suggests, and Celeste Headlee summarizes, is to gauge your responses in real time, and ask yourself whether you’re offering a “shift response” or a “support response.”

What’s the difference?

A shift response involves an attempt to guide the conversation toward your life experiences, and away from the experiences of the person you’re ostensibly listening to and perhaps even trying to help.

A support response sets aside your ego, and instead keeps the focus on the other person’s feelings and experience.

Conversational narcissism

A few examples will make this very clear. In each case below, just imagine that a friend or colleague opens a conversation with the highlighted statement. Then think about how each response would make him or her feel.

1. “My boss doesn’t respect me.”

Shift response: “I went through the exact same thing last year. I wound up leaving and finding a better job.”

Support response: “I’m sorry to hear that. What makes you feel that way?”

2. “If I could just get organized, I’d have the world on a string.”

Shift response: “I know–I have the same problem.”

Support response: “What do you think stops you from being organized?”

3. “I’m so sad since my breakup.”

Shift response: “You just need to get back out there and start dating again.”

Support response: “What do you think stops you from being able to move forward?”

Derber calls the whole phenomenon, at least the part in which well-meaning people shift the discussion to their own experience, “conversational narcissism.”

Is that a $20 phrase to describe a $1 problem? Maybe. But it does make it clear.

“I can imagine…”

As Justin puts it in his book, the successful strategy to communicate effectively and leverage emotional intelligence requires avoiding phrases like these:

“I know exactly how you feel.”

“I’ve been through this before.”

“I completely understand; or, I get it.”

And replacing them instead with things like the following:

“I’m sorry that happened.”

“I can imagine how you may feel.”

“Thanks for sharing this. Tell me more.”

Actually, I might take issue even with “I can imagine how you may feel.” But we’ll leave it in.

Just remember that the whole point here is to acknowledge how hard it is to really put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and instead make clear that you have empathy.

You’re trying to understand–even as you acknowledge that full success might not ever be possible. The true connection that you’re both looking for comes with the well-communicated attempt.

Cuss Words And Why I Like Them

There is tremendous power in profanity, which is part of the reason why I like certain words. I don’t want to give you the impression that I am a complete foul-mouth, but I am certainly not going to lose my mind if the random S-bomb flies out of someone’s mouth or my mouth. I am very careful in certain situations, such as when I am around someone who finds cussing offensive, or when I am conversing with the majority of my patients. But the rest of the time, I don’t hold back at all, and sometimes surprise myself with the long strings of expletives which can tumble out of my mouth when I am all fired up. However, in these instances, I am usually alone in my car or at home, where I feel safe enough to open up a fresh can of obscenities and fling them into the air.

Let’s face it, many people like cuss words because they have personality. Some naughty words are so full of texture that you could almost bite right into them. For example, the word “fuck” has dimension and color to it. It’s lively, energetic, and emphatic, and that is exactly why I dig it. And in most cases, “fuck” is so benign that I honestly don’t think it deserves such a bad rap. Besides, there is something delicious about off-color utterances which supports our propensity for pushing the envelope.

I always find it puzzling that censorship laws still bleep out certain words, yet the context of the scene and dialog usually clearly give away the swear word which was spoken. At least the FCC got hip to what the public can tolerate on late night major network television, and allowed certain words, like “shit” and “asshole”, to let fly on shows like Conan.

What it comes down to is that the “bad words” which have been demonized in our culture are just WORDS. They don’t hurt people unless they are used in a malicious fashion to insult others, such as racial slurs. As long as we avoid words which are inflammatory, or used in a destructive manner, we shouldn’t have to fear them at all.

Cursing Culture

fuck cuss

I am very professional when I am in a work environment or situation. However, I will admit that I have been known to let some colorful language loose when I am at home or with friends. If I let myself indulge, I can be a bit of a potty mouth, but I don’t want you to think that I walk around all the time like that! I make sure to refrain from using profanity around certain groups of people. I will even omit more benign words like damn when I am around people who would be easily offended by such language.

My natural inclination if I do something like stub my toe is to mutter a cuss word out loud, and it is a total reflex action. It is somehow linked to the pain and makes it dissipate somewhat, especially if I continue with guttural intonations which are peppered with a number of forbidden cuss words. Does that make me a bad person? Not at all.

People are much more aware of how silly the censorship laws are in the United States. If you watch a show and hear certain words bleeped out, you can still figure out what swear word was uttered, especially since you hear the context in the framework of the dialog. That’s why cable TV and Sirius/XM satellite radio became so successful, because they cut through the bullshit and let the cuss words fly. The so-called “bad words” which have been demonized in our culture are just WORDS. They don’t hurt people unless they are used in a malicious fashion to insult others.

I stumbled upon this post recently and thought it was hilarious. It defends those of us who cuss in a rather amusing way, so I just had to share it. The original post can be found at:


People Who F*cking Curse More Actually Make The Best F*cking Friends

By Lauren Martin

It f*cking feels f*cking good to swear. I don’t f*cking know where or when we f*cking started, but it f*cking happened. We’ve gentrified the F word, and we can’t f*cking stop.

Swearing is one of those things we can’t really figure out. We all do it, yet so many condemn it. We know it’s bad, yet we can’t help ourselves. We f*cking love it, but have no idea why.

Where did we learn it? When did we start? Why does it feel so damn good?

Timothy Jay and Kristin Janschewitz sought to answer these questions in their report “The Science of Swearing.”

In the report, they argued swearing’s negative stigmas stem from our court’s association with speech cases of discrimination and sexual harassment.

Their work, however, suggests swearing does not promote or produce negative consequences.

Their results come from studying 10,000 cases of public swearing. From those cases, there were no incidents of public swearing that led to direct violence or harm.

Another case against swearing is it corrupts children. Sociologists suggest there is no scientific or sociological proof a single word can cause harm.

They also found most public uses of swear words are not out of anger, but to produce positive effects, mainly humor.

Research does prove, however, swearing can lower physical pain. It has a cathartic effect that enables us to react and live through pain better.

It’s also used for stress management, storytelling, social cues and, most importantly, a replacement for physical violence.

Because does “f*ck” really cause more damage than a punch to the face? Does hearing your child curse hurt more than watching him hurt himself?

According to Jay and Janschewitz, while the everyday English speaker swears in 0.5 percent of his daily words, swearing occurs most in Type A personalities. Those classified as extroverted are known to swear the most.

Interestingly enough, women dominate in the most recent frequency count of public swearing. This does not mean women have become cruder; there’s just more of us. More of us watching TV, engaging in social activities and refusing to give a damn.

So after all this, what can you really say about your friend who swears all the time or your kid who can’t keep “f*ck” out of a sentence? You can say they’re good f*cking people.

They give it to you damn straight

Who wants things sugarcoated when you can have them on fire? There’s nothing better than hearing something straight up and full of emotion, as opposed to hearing it passive aggressively in pieces over the next month.

The best kind of friends are ones who aren’t going to hold back, but always show you their true selves.

They don’t water sh*t down

How is it the spice of life if you’re always watering it down? What’s the point in getting excited about something if you can’t adequately express it?

Friends who are always willing to beef things up, proclaim their excitement in profanity and off rooftops, make the world a damn better place to live. Why not be outlandish and brash? Why not be f*cking excited about stuff?

They’re cool with being the assh*le

If they’re cursing a lot, chances are they’re caring even less. People who introduce F-bombs into the fiber of their very being are usually people who have excluded public opinion from it as well.

They are spontaneous, wild and don’t give a damn. They are OK taking a few hits and have armor as thick as their vocabulary.

They don’t take things too f*cking seriously

There’s nothing that eases the tension more than a good curse. I mean, if they’re f*cking pissed, at least they’re f*cking something.

Things just seem less serious when there’s emotion added to it, less stale when there are a few profanities involved.

If you’re going to get yelled at, you want it to be by someone who can add some color to his or her emotion.

Besides, if they’re f*cking pissed, it’s probably nothing that can’t be alleviated by a good f*ck.

They’ll defend you against any d*ck or c*nt

If you want someone on your side, you want someone with a strong mouth.

What good are friends backing you up if they don’t know how to do it properly? They’re always ready with a sharp response and an even sharper tongue.

They know how to tell a damn good story

A story is never a good one without a few curses. I mean, what good is a punch line without f*ck? Why call it making love when you could call it f*cking? What’s the point in a story if you’re not going to go there?

Good storytellers are also natural cursers. They understand the power of a good F-bomb as much as the extremity of an evil c*nt or a huge d*ck. They know how to place things, where to put them, and they will always f*cking go there.

They’re f*cking open

Chances are if they aren’t afraid to drop an F-bomb, they’re also not afraid of other people dropping them.

They’re desensitized to language as well as most things this world will throw at them. They’ve got an open heart, mind and mouth.

Music Performance and Cognitive Function


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By: Dr. Stacey Naito – Physician and IFBB Pro

Play For Your Brain

Not all of us are able to play musical instruments well, but the challenge of learning to play one can be a fun hobby. Recent research suggests that people who play a musical instrument regularly, even if they aren’t musically gifted per se, are reinforcing their brain’s function at the same time.

Musical training is thought to increase neural connections in the brain which are associated with decision making, complex memory, and creativity. Musical education can even boost cognitive function in people who have suffered from strokes, and equip the brain to adapt by using intact brain regions.

Musical Brains

Numerous studies have proven that the brains of musicians differ functionally and structurally from the brains of non-musicians. Skilled musicians are like athletes, because they need to coordinate multiple senses, and focus on complex elements like melody and tempo, while performing a piece.

There is also research which suggests that the areas used in musical performance are closely linked with other important cognitive functions. One study by Schaug discovered that musical disorders such as tone deafness affect about 4 to 10 percent of the population, which is the same percentage range seen with disabilities such as dyslexia and dyscalculia (math difficulties).

Another study, performed by Wang, examined the brains of 48 young adults who had studied music for at least one year between the ages of 3 and 15. The subjects who had begun musical training before the age of 7 had greater development in the areas of the brain associated with language and executive function.

Learn a Foreign Tongue To Protect Your Brain


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By: Dr. Stacey Naito – Physician and IFBB Pro

Bilingual Brains

Numerous research studies have revealed that people who speak two or more languages possess greater skill in multitasking and paying attention than those who only speak one language. In addition, a 2013 study discovered that individuals who spoke two languages developed the signs of dementia more than four years later than people who only spoke one language, which strongly suggests that being bilingual may help to delay the onset of dementia.

Never Too Late

Scientists have determined that the earlier one learns a second language, the greater the protective benefits against dementia, but it is never too late to learn a foreign tongue, even if you only learn a bit of the language. Be ready for a challenge, though, because most aspects of learning a foreign language later in life will be more difficult.

One clear benefit which older individuals have over youngsters when learning a foreign language is that they have much larger vocabularies which are often as large as those of native speakers. However, the challenges which exist for older people learning a foreign tongue are numerous. First of all, phonemes, or sounds, of a language are very easily picked up by children, but are much more difficult for adults to learn. Secondly, adults automatically hear a foreign language through the filter of their native language, which is not the case in toddlers. As a result, the older learner may have issues with pronunciation.

A toddler’s brain has about fifty percent more neuron connections than an adult brain. The extra connections are a safeguard against potential early trauma, but are also critical for early language acquisition. After a child reaches six years of age, adaptability declines as a result of the brain’s need to acquire other skills during development. This adaptability, also known as neuroplasticity, continues to plummet throughout the years, making it more difficult to obtain new language skills.

Several studies have suggested that learning a foreign language later in life can delay age-related cognitive decline, as well as delay the onset of dementia. In addition, the mental challenge of learning a new language during later years improves executive function, which is important for mental flexibility.

30 Actual Sentences Found In Patients Hospital Charts


I recently saw this post on a friend’s Facebook timeline, and was compelled to write a response to it. The thing is, most of these chart notes ARE funny, but some are taken out of context. In addition, the language used in several of the notes are completely appropriate when spoken within the medical world, so I clarified those notes in a comment which I posted. Here is the original list of chart comments, followed by my clarifying remarks.


1. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.
2. Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.
3. Since she can’t get pregnant with her husband, I thought you might like to work her up.
4. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.
5. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.
6. Discharge status: Alive but without my permission.
7. Healthy appearing decrepit 69 year-old male, mentally alert but forgetful.
8. The patient refused autopsy.
9. The patient has no previous history of suicides.
10. Patient has left white blood cells at another hospital.
11. Patient’s medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.
12. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.
13. Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.
14. On the second day the knee was better, and on the third day it disappeared.
15. She is numb from her toes down.
16. While in ER, she was examined, X-rated and sent home.
17. The skin was moist and dry.
18. Occasional, constant, infrequent headaches.
19. Patient was alert and unresponsive.
20. Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.
21. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got a divorce.
22. I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.
23. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.
24. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.
25. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.
26. The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as a stock broker instead.
27. Skin: somewhat pale but present.
28. The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.
29. Patient was seen in consultation by DR. Blank, who felt we should sit on the abdomen and I agree.
30. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.

As a physician, I know that some of these chart notes actually make perfect sense to those who work in the medical field and who are on the hospital wards.

For example, “Since she can’t get pregnant with her husband, I thought you might like to work her up.” refers to a physician referring a patient to a fertility specialist who would be able to “work up” a patients to see what the issue might be with respect to difficulty getting pregnant.

Here’s another one: “The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.” Crying “constantly” does not automatically infer that someone is depressed. Ostensibly the patient is distressed over something, but the clinical diagnosis of depression has a set of criteria which must be met on evaluation of the patient.

“The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.” Really, just stupid. This patient had depression beginning at the very latest in 1993, and this clinician had begun seeing the patient at that time. So snicker all you want, but the clinician’s presence in the patient’s life is NOT the causative factor in her depression.

“The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as a stock broker instead.” If I could count the number of times a patient was advised to have a surgical procedure, only to evade medical advice, I’d be a millionaire by now.

“The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.” The “floor” refers to a hospital ward. This patient was most likely evaluated in the emergency room, so the plan was to do a full work-up, including a pelvic exam, once the patient was transferred to a regular bed in the appropriate ward or section of the hospital.

“Patient was seen in consultation by DR. Blank, who felt we should sit on the abdomen and I agree.” The phrase, “sit on the abdomen” means that the clinicians who were evaluating the patient had decided to hold off on any interventions with respect to the abdomen, most likely because they were confident that there was no imminent danger, and no need for surgical intervention.

The remaining chart notes ARE funny, and I could see why lay people find them amusing.
Hope this clears up some of the confusion regarding some of the notes which were perfectly sound within the medical world.