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Skip to 0 minutes and 4 seconds RICHARD CHAMBERS: So with mindfulness, we practise being present, being nonjudgmental and accepting and open, but it doesn’t mean being a doormat. If people are doing things that aren’t OK with us, it’s absolutely OK to be assertive and to have clear boundaries. And, in fact, that can be a very important thing to do. And mindfulness can help us to do that effectively. If we can calm ourselves down and be nonreactive, we can start to become very clear. If we look closely, we can see that people who are causing difficulties for us are causing difficulties for themselves as well. I mean, they’re obviously having a bad time if they’re hard to be around.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 seconds And they might be laying some seeds that down the track could cause problems for them or just damaging their relationship with us. So if we start to be very clear and balanced in our communication with them, having very clear boundaries, it can actually be a very compassionate thing to do. I guess a really good example would be a child that wants to eat ice cream for every meal. And a good parent, are they going to let the child eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day? Probably not. I think a good parent’s going to teach the child about good nutrition, expect them to eat a balanced meal, and then just have an ice cream every now and then.

Skip to 1 minute and 18 seconds And so really, mindfulness helps us to be assertive, because it helps us to come from a much clearer, less reactive place. If we can see the situation clearly, we’re not going to take things personally. We’re not going to react as much. If we can notice our own emotions and reactions, we can calm ourselves down. We can start to have clear boundaries, be very clear in our speech. We can also start to tune into what our needs are, rather than just allowing other people to set the agenda. If we know what we need in each moment, we can start to be very clear about that and to ask for that.

Skip to 1 minute and 52 seconds So if I were a parent, I might say to a child, I really need for you to listen to what I’m saying and to have a balanced diet and be healthy. Or if I were at work and someone was not doing a task they’d agreed to do, I might need to be very clear about my need for that task to get done so that I can get on with my work. But I might also be very interested in what it is that’s getting in the way of them doing their work. If I bring an attitude of curiosity and interest and nonjudgment, I could maybe have a much more effective conversation with them.


Watch Richard explain how mindfulness can help you be more assertive, and how that can help you to connect with your own needs and those of others.

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Maintaining a Mindful Life

Monash University

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