The Cure for “What-is-itis” aka How to Stop the “That’s Just the way that it is” Conversation


Dear Friends: 

I’ve produced/exec produced twelve feature films to date where I’ve worked with hundreds and hundreds of people, and in addition I’ve taught entertainment industry workshops to thousands and thousands of folks over the years.   There is one thing I hear all too often and it drives me crazy. “That’s just the way it is!” “Suzanne, the market is shrinking,” “Women over forty just can’t get good roles in films,” “Investors are not putting their money into films anymore,” “I’m so new to the industry, it’s going to be impossible to get a paying gig.” And here is the best one, “None of it’s my fault, it’s “JUST THE WAY IT IS.”   This makes me crazy! And I hear it so often, I’m beginning to think it’s an epidemic. Although I’m not a doctor, I’m going to go ahead and work on the cure for this disease called “What-Is-Itis.”  

Here’s a perfect example of how we stay stuck in a certain mindset and become convinced that it’s just the way that it is.  Until 1954 authorities claimed that the 4-minute mile was impossible if not lethal. Roger Bannister believed otherwise and on May 6th of that year he ran the mile in 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds.  Runners of the past had been held back by a mindset that said it couldn’t be done.  When the limit was challenged a paradigm shift occurred and within months runners were beating the new record.

 I’m going to explore this fascinating issue and suggest some possible cures, ideas and alternatives for this insane epidemic.


aka How to Stop the ‘THAT’S JUST THE WAY THAT IT IS’ Conversation


  1. WHO’S THE AUTHORITY:  Who said that’s the way it is?  Who’s in charge here? The answer whether you like it or not is you.  You are the one living the reality that you’ve created.  Not your Mom, not your boss, not your industry, not the government.  So, start to catch yourself when you hear yourself thinking or saying, “that’s just the way it is.”  It’s a great inquiry to take on. Possibly one you’ve never ever thought about before today.  
  2. BELIEFS ARE ONLY HABITUAL THOUGHTS:  For the longest time I thought that my beliefs were real… carved in stone, real.  It sounds crazy, but true.  And as you know, habits become reality soon crystalizing to the point where it really really is our reality… or so we think.  Perception is not reality… perception is just perception. We get locked in our thought processes. Just realizing that beliefs are nothing more than habitual thoughts is so liberating.  I took on an exercise a couple of years ago where I would look at all of my believes that I thought over a two-week period. I wrote them all down on paper. And, here is the scary part, at the end of the two weeks when I went over all the believes I had written down, only around 15% were actually mine.  The rest were beliefs that I had ‘inherited’ from my parents, my grandparents (and probably their grandparents!), my religious upbringing, my teachers and no doubt the culture and community I was brought up in. It was a life altering aha moment! 
  3. “THE TRUTH” CAN KEEP YOU STUCK:  The scary thing is that when we think that what we think is true, it’s sort of like having our foot nailed to the floor.  It becomes our permission slip to get ourselves off the hook. We feel justified in blaming someone or something outside ourselves, leaving us powerless.  It’s sort of like dancing to a tone that isn’t even playing. And whether we realize it or not, it takes its toll… physically, emotionally and spiritually.  We get to play it safe by ‘being stuck’ but it’s certainly not a very fun place to play. On the surface the payoff may feel good… you get to stay inside your comfort zone where it’s safe.  But is the cost really worth it. Let’s take a look. 
  4. THE COST:  I recall in the early 90s arguing with my coach at a Landmark Education workshop.  I was so committed to staying small and playing safe. I was literally arguing for my limitations.  She wasn’t buying any of it. She saw me as far bigger than I saw myself and she had me take a long hard look at the cost of staying stuck.  What a wake-up call! If you want to shift from someone who says, “that’s just the way it is” to someone who’s fully in control, fully responsible, you have only to look at the cost.   If we’ve got what-is-itis, we’re alienating people, we’re jeopardizing our self-expression, aliveness, potential, possibility and we’re missing out on joy, love, fun and expansion. And after all, isn’t that why we’re here… on planet Earth and of course in the entertainment industry.  I could go on here, but I think you’ve got the picture loud and clear. Is the cost worth it?
  5. BEING RIGHT:  Just think about this one for a minute.  For most of us, we’d rather be right, than have relationships!  We’ll go to war (literally) to be right. The damage here is that we tend to kill off and alienate a ton of people just to be right.  We spend countless hours canvasing others, collecting evidence to validate just how very right we are. “Isn’t my boss a terrible person?”  “It’s getting harder and harder to find a job.” “Showrunners only hire their friends.” “Everyone’s out to steal my ideas.” Finding agreement for these fantasies consumes so much time and only reinforces our ‘what-is-itis.’ 
  6. CHOICE IS FREEDOM:  There is no choice in ‘what-is- itis.’  You may think there is, but the problem is that we’re making choices based on and in support of our “that’s just the way it is” belief.  What we think is true further reinforces the foundation on which we built the whole thing to begin with. There is no choice… no freedom standing there.  You can’t use your old beliefs to guide your present actions. Changing the way you think of something (or someone) transforms and expands your world giving you the ultimate freedom of choice.  I recommend you take some time with this distinction. It is probably the most powerful inquiry you can take on and the most important distinction to master.  As an exercise for the next month look at the choices you’re making and see where they are coming from.  Are they based on past believes and therefor knee-jerk reactions or are they coming from your true authentic commitments?  
  7. CREATING REALITY:  I have talked about this distinction in previous articles and I think it fits perfectly here as well.  We all need to realize that we get to say what’s so. We have an internal experience of the words we speak and the thoughts we’re thinking and thoughts and words have power.  YOU get to say… YOU get to create your reality. YOU get to write your story the way you want it to unfold. I love the Abraham-Hicks quote that pretty much sums it up, “You are the vibrational writers of the script of your life, and everyone else in the Universe is playing the part that you have assigned to them.”  Isn’t this perfect. You get to create your life as you want it. So, let’s all create the most magical amazing life ever. One of my other favorite quotes, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.”  
  8. HAVE A ‘COME AS YOU WANT TO BE’ PARTY:   In his book, “The Success Principles,” Jack Canfield talks about a party he attended that was literally life changing.  The party was called ‘come as you will be in 5 years.’ It was all about envisioning where you would like to be 5 years into the future.   He said they “were to dress the part, talk the part and bring any props that demonstrated that their dreams had already come true.” That’s my kind of party!  Call your friends and plan it, now! I can’t think of a better cure for ‘what-is-itis.’
  9. A NEW PLACE TO STAND:  If everything that I’m saying is sounding a little too familiar maybe it’s time for a personal paradigm shift.  As I often tell the participants in my workshops, “if your conversation is not empowering you, make up a new one.”  It’s not like there’s any truth to the first one anyway. Trust your intuition 100% of the time and choose to stand there.  When I attended an incredible educational health week in Malibu a couple of summers ago, I met acclaimed doctor and scientist Barry Morguelan.  He went so far as to say that all human suffering stems from the gap between who we think we are and who we really are… our potential.  
  10. TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY:  I mean FULL responsibility.  100% responsibility… 100% of the time.  I know, that hurt. Too bad. It’s time.  This is an adult conversation I’m having here and since you’ve made it to Tip #10 you’re obviously engaged in this conversation.  So why not take this on? Be fully and totally responsible for creating your reality. I promise you miracles!

 BONUS:  A paradigm shift can take time.  So be patient with yourself. When you catch yourself playing small, making excuses, arguing for your limitations or retreating to your comfort zone, don’t beat yourself up about it.  Just notice it, be conscious. The more you start to notice it the more power you will have over it and the quicker the shift will take place. In my next article, I’ll be talking about having success in your career and giving you great tools to keep you inspired, expanding and on purpose.  Until then, stay present, be conscious and dream big!


Suzanne Lyons is President/Producer of Snowfall Films, Inc. ( having produced/exec produced 12 feature films to date.  She co-founded the Flash Forward Institute which focused on teaching the tools of business needed to market oneself in the entertainment industry.  Her book titled Indie Film Producing: The Craft of Low Budget Filmmaking was published by Focal Press  She’s hosted over 125 informational videos for the industry (   When time permits, she does private career and business coaching as well as indie film producing coaching.  Suzanne is originally Canadian and lives with her husband in Los Angeles.

Suzanne’s Past Speaking Engagement Include:

Directors Guild of America ~ UCLA ~ USC ~ American Film Institute ~ Film Independent Network ~ Women In Film (Los Angeles) ~ Women in Film and TV (Toronto) ~ Women in Film and Video (Vancouver) ~ Producers Guild of America ~ California Governor’s Conference for Women ~ Latino Entertainment Media Institute – Cinematographers Guild – Alameda Writers Group ~ IWOSC ~ The Table ~ Chapman College ~ The Actors Network ~ BAFTA ~ National University ~ Pepperdine Law Class ~ Creative Actors Alliance ~ Sherwood Oaks College ~ Academy of TV Arts and Sciences ~ WGA ~ SAG ~ Filmmakers Alliance ~ Cinema Arts Tech ~ New Brunswick Film Industry Summit (Fredericton, NB) ~ Filmmakers Collaborative (Boston) ~ Latino Producers Academy (NALIP) (Tucson and Santa Fe) ~  Learning Annex (Los Angeles) ~ Scriptwriters Network ~ Great American Pitch Fest ~ Action/Cut Filmmaking ~ IFP West ~ California Institute of the Arts ~ Hollywood Film Festival ~ Film Specific ~ REEL Ladies ~ Gary Goldstein Podcast ~ AFCI Cineposium (Association of Film Commissioners International) ~ New Mexico Filmmakers Conference (Albuquerque) ~ The Black Film Festival ~ InkTip Writers’ Summit ~ Columbia College Chicago Film Financing Townhall (IIFF) ~ Sandra Lord’s Women Helping Women ~ ~ ScreenwritingU ~ International Family Film Festival ~ NATPE ~ AIA Actor’s Studio ~ Breaking Into Hollywood ~ Curry College (Massachusetts) ~ American Film Market (Producer’s Program) ~ Singapore Media Academy (Singapore) ~ AFM (American Film Market) ~ Columbia College Graduate Film Program (Associate Professor Spring Sessions) ~ New York Film School ~ IFH Podcast ( ~  Indie Film Academy ~ Hollywood Entertainment Industry Meetup ~ Sisters in Crime Conference ~ The Other 50%-A Herstory of Hollywood ~ Lawrence Harte’s Internet TV Podcast ~

Some Topics Have Included:

The Six Stages of the Pitch; How to Market Yourself and Your Projects; The 10 Secrets to Success in Hollywood; How to Jump Start Your Career; Four Stages to Closing the Deal; Networking and Creating Relationships in the Entertainment Industry (& any Industry); Where Do You Go From Here; How to Get More Work (Thinking Outside the Box); Putting Your Career in High Gear; How to Get a Mentor; Active Listening; Act Now and Sky Rocket Your Career; High Powered Career Strategies; Booking the Job; Launching the Future: How to Have Your Best Year Ever; How to Create a Paradigm Shift; Funding Your Indie Film; and Indie Film Producing (Full day program based on my book: “Indie Film Producing: The Craft of Low Budget Filmmaking” as well as private sessions or segments (from one to four hours) covering aspects that include “Creating a Killer Sales Presentation,” “How to Fund your Film,” “Wearing the Business Hat.” and many more)

To book Suzanne for a speaking engagement, keynote speaker, panelist, moderator or for more information on her workshops, contact Suzanne at 818-516-9781   

Books She’s Been Featured In Include:

“Complete Production Handbook” by Eve Light Honthaner. Check out this great book here.



“Hollywood Drive” by Eve Light Honthaner. The Amazon link is here.




Michael Hauge’s “Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way to Get Your Screenplay or Novel Read”. For more info on what Michael has in store check out



Another excellent book Suzanne had the honor to be a part of a couple of years ago is “Birthing the Elephant” by Karen Abarbanel and Bruce Freeman with a forward by Bobbi Brown. A great book that features a number of women entrepreneurs giving advice on starting and maintaining a business.


Another excellent book Suzanne had the honor to be a part of a couple of years ago is “Birthing the Elephant” by Karen Abarbanel and Bruce Freeman with a forward by Bobbi Brown. A great book that features a number of women entrepreneurs giving advice on starting and maintaining a business.

“Create For Cash” by Julie Austin. Check out Julie’s Website at

A few years ago, Suzanne was also featured in “Make It Happen”, the Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business annual magazine.