Chronic Pain “It Is What It Is”

I watched Jerry Seinfeld’s “23 Hours to Kill” on Netflix last night. He was speaking about phrases that he doesn’t like and the first one he said was, “It is what it is.”

My husband and I started laughing because I use it when people ask about my chronic pain.

It Is What It Is

This morning I woke up around 3:00 am thinking about this phrase. When do I use it and why?

The answer popped up instantly. I say, “It is what it is” when people are talking to me about my pain from trigeminal, occipital, and glossopharyngeal neuralgia and say, “It’s not fair Gail. You don’t deserve this.”

I love words, thinking about them, playing with them, and understanding that changing my language around pain is one of the most healing things I can do. In the past when I heard, “IT’S NOT FAIR,” I used to explain that fairness had nothing to do with my diagnosis. If it was a good friend, I would have us think about when did this statement get so popular? Who decided what’s fair or not fair with body pain?

I am also mindful that it is being said from a place of love and caring. I have found it easier to say, “It is what it is” because this simple statement comforts those who care about me. It often helps them look at their own physical issues a little differently.

And now I find myself pondering this sentence and wondering what else I might say. I typically am not fond of clichés or overused phrases. I want to be especially mindful of my language when I am with someone who truly cares about me.

As I researched this phrase, I found an article in Psychology Today by Liane Gabora Ph.D. The Hidden Meaning of “It Is What It Is.” 

So I was thinking of the increased use of “it is what it is” as an indication that people are increasingly resisting the temptation to force things into categories, to be comfortable with the unknown.”

Be Comfortable – Photo by Samuel Foster

Accept that you cannot force your life into all that you had planned to do before you were diagnosed with your disease. Your life has changed and even though you have plans for tomorrow, they can completely switch based on how you feel. Stop judging yourself or feeling guilty because you can’t meet life exactly how you’ve planned it.

Want to know a great pain management tool? Become comfortable with the unknown.

Do you need more helpful ideas? Pop over to my Pain Management Tools and Resources pages.


Gail Sinclair, MHt, CNC is a hypnotherapist who helps those living with chronic pain go from discomfort to thriving by using hypnosis, pain management tools and resources.

She is a Master Hypnotherapist, Nutritional Consultant, and a Reiki Master Teacher. She has over 20 years in healing work and is an international award-winning speaker.

Gail lives in Portland, OR with her delightful husband, son, and cat. She can be found cooking, knitting, writing, and figuring out new ways to thrive with Trigeminal, and Occipital Neuralgia.

You can reach her at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *