Changing Your Underwear and Changing Other People

by | Dec 5, 2014 | Life Coaching, Newsletter, Wendy Hernandez Blog

My three year old daughter is at a really cool age. Finally, she’s reached a point where she can reason, have conversations, and ask questions. She’s also at point where she can make demands.


Whenever we’re at home, Paloma follows me around from room to room. Although she loves my attention, many times, it seems to be enough just that I am near her. In fact, most of the time, I don’t think she’s even paying attention to what I’m doing, but then I’m shocked a week later when she starts talking about something I did or said when I thought she was ignoring me.


Paloma has also gotten really particular about her taste in clothes, even at the tender age of three. She’s definitely an out-of-the-box thinker when it comes to her fashion sense, and it often drives her Type A momma nutso. I like to plan, and often my plan is that she is going to wear cute matchy-matchy outfits to school, to Thanksgiving dinner and to bed.


Not so much.


Paloma usually has her own strategy, and whatever mine is, hers is the exact opposite. Even down to the underwear and socks. She takes longer to get dressed every morning than I do. (God Bless her heart.)


Paloma’s strong desires when it comes to fashion have gone so far that lately she has been giving ME advice about what looks good and what doesn’t. She tells me what she likes – and what she doesn’t. She TRIES to tell me what to wear – and what not to wear.


Right down to MY underwear.


This past week she was following me as I was racing around the house in a mad rush because I was late for something. While in my room, I had stripped down from my bath robe to nothing, and I was digging around in my underwear drawer for the most comfortable and flattering pair. I thought I had found it, so I put it on.


One second, Paloma was looking at me, smiling. The next second, she had melted onto the floor, flailing her arms and screaming at the top of her lungs.


I thought she had gotten bitten by a scorpion, a tarantula or a gila monster.


I asked her what was wrong, and this is how our very loud, emotional conversation unfolded:


P: Take off that underwear!!

W: Why?


P: I don’t like it!

W: Well, I do like it, so I’m wearing it.


P: I don’t like it. Take it off now!

W: Why don’t you like it?


P: It’s too small!

W: It’s not too small.


P: It is too small. I want you to take it off!

W: Nope. It’s staying on.


Then the tantrum of epic proportions continued for ten more minutes. It made me even later than I was before. <Sigh.>


At the time, my overwhelm overwhelmed the hilarity of the whole scenario. During my day though, thinking about the whole thing made me laugh out loud.


Isn’t it ridiculous that Paloma got so pissed because I wouldn’t change my underwear for her?


Yes. And no.


In actuality, there are times in all of our lives when we act just like three year olds: 


We melt down when someone won’t change something we want them to change.


No–it’s usually not underwear. However, it is usually something important (or integral) to that other person. And, when we try to change that person or that thing we don’t like, it causes all kind of drama.


You can’t change another person. You can only change yourself. And as much as YOU want to give up sweets, Starbucks or smoking, even that’s freakin’ hard when YOU are the one driving the bus, right?!


So when someone’s wearing underwear that repels you, what are you supposed to do?


If you want, you can talk to the person about it using adult (not toddler) communication skills. You can say how the underwear makes you feel when the other person wears it. You can tell them how it is affecting the relationship between the two of you. Finally, you can tell them how that relationship will be affected if they continue to wear the too-small/too-ugly/too-offensive undergarments.


Then, you can let that other person make the call on their choice of skivvies in the future.


Oh-and then, you can decide, based on the other person’s future choices about underwear, how you are going to proceed moving forward.


That’s it.


Talk. Lay it out. Decide how you will react. Move on.


I know I’m making it sound easier than it really is. We all want people to cater to OUR needs and wants. It’s human nature to think everything is about ourselves.


The thing is, the idea of changing other people is silly. It’s as silly as a three year old who wanted her 44 year old Mom to change underwear just because she didn’t like them.


(And, as a side note, I urge you, ESPECIALLY if you’re an adult – never tell a grown woman to change her underwear because it’s too small. That will really get you into hot water.)

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