“I’m sorry, but I need to cancel our meeting. I can’t find my ID.” I was calling a friend. We had decided to meet, going to the bank to finally sign the last documents to be able to open a bank account in the newly formed Swedish NVC association. I needed both my ID and credit card and the wallet was nowhere to be found. My friend was already on her way on the subway and now she had to return home. When we finished the call, I collapsed on the hall bench with tears in my eyes.

Inner judgments ran through my head as I sat feeling sorry for myself. It wasn’t the first time I didn’t find something I needed. I had searched “everywhere”. I had even gone to the car but in vain. The wallet was gone! “Someone must have taken it” – was one of my thoughts, which often pops into my head when I can’t find what I’m looking for. It’s like my mind is trying to find the guilty one. Since I don’t like to blame myself, my mind of course figures out that someone else must have taken what I’m looking for.

After a while, I began to think about what my tears signalled. Pretty soon my self-pity was replaced by a longing – a longing for structure and order. I don’t want to waste time looking for my wallet or other things I mislay in different places. With the need for order alive in me, I began to search the apartment more systematically. Soon I found the wallet on my bed, under the bedspread. I called my friend and we were able to meet at the bank, only a little later than our original plan.

Rebellion against the norm

For large parts of my life, the word order had a harsh and unappealing character. It reminded me of discipline and the military, rigid rules and bureaucracy. My home country, Sweden, is one of the most well-organised countries in the world. In Sweden, there are plenty of laws, rules, regulations and norms regarding minimum acceptable standards. This insures that most people live under tolerable conditions. At the same time it’s so orderly that it’s difficult to have an alternative lifestyle.

In my youth, I revolted against this order. I became a punk rocker and then an anarchist and a social activist. My new lifestyle led to my dropping out of high school. I squatted abandoned houses, hitchhiked around Europe and avoided paid work as much as possible. Often I didn’t know where or if I was going to work the next day, if at all. Spontaneity, unpredictability and creativity were mixed with political activism, partying and drinking beer. I have memories (and some memory gaps) of many wild, crazy and foolish events.


I still have a rather romantic view of the unpredictable and chaotic life I lived in my youth. There seems to be a rebel inside me that makes sure my life doesn’t become too orderly and predictable. My inner rebel is expressed in me doing things at the last second or postponing important things that involve obligations to authorities. For example, I often complete things at the last moment or don’t keep the time for paying my invoices. I think I’m subconsciously sabotaging myself. By doing this, I show up as a free and autonomous being. Instead of acting based on what benefits me the most, I react and revolt.

One reason behind the revolt against order

One of the basic assumptions in NVC is that everything people do is an attempt to satisfy needs. Individuals and especially groups of people have used order and discipline to try to satisfy various needs. Historically, this has often caused much harm, suffering and genocide. Many of those strategies did not consider the needs of everyone. I guess that I (and many others) have confused order with suffering, exploatation and opression. This has in me resulted in a resistance to order.

The beauty of order

It’s only later in life that I have come to appreciate order and predictability. There is beauty in order that I would like to embrace with more love. When everything has its place and I have an overview of my physical surroundings, my life becomes much easier. And if I am purpose-driven rather than emotionally driven, I act as an autonomous agent rather than a reactive rebel.

What could more order do for you?

Leave a comment below or, if you are a Premium subscriber of “The Needs’ Year”, at the online platform: https://empathiceurope.com/online/courses/the-needs-year/modules/week-48/


Joachim Berggren (CNVC Certified Trainer)

_ _ _ _

On 8 December at 15:00-15:45 CET, you can participate in a Zoom Talk with me and Frank Gaschler. We will talk about the need for order.

Sign up for the Needs’ Year and you will receive a link to Zoom.

If you read this afterward, you can watch the recording when you become a premium subscriber. Check the details HERE.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x

Pin It on Pinterest