I am writing this blog post on Monday 28 February 2022. I’m sitting in my living room in my apartment in Tensta, a northern suburb in Stockholm, Sweden. Opposite me sits Magda writing something on her computer. Outside the window the sun is shining. It is a few degrees above zero and patches of snow are still on the ground. Earlier today I went for a walk with an NVC friend who works nearby. I’m thinking about when to go out and run.
Despite the fact that I live in one of Sweden’s most socially exposed suburbs – in recent years there have been many who have been killed in conflicts between criminal gangs – I feel safe. I can move around in my neighbourhood during all hours of the day. I can go shopping and have a cup of coffee at a local café.
In general I’m experiencing my need for safety fulfilled in my everyday life. I also experience safety as a Swede in general. If I became unemployed or ill, I would probably have my most basic needs met. There are some who fall between the meshes in the safety net, but most receive support and help in difficult life conditions.
As I sit and reflect on the need for safety, it is the fifth day of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. While I was sitting and writing, I discovered that safety is something I more or less take for granted. At the same time, I understand that in many parts of the world (even in Sweden) it is not a reality.
The effects of stress
In Maslow’s ladder of needs, the need for safety and its various parts is found just above our basic survival needs. When we are not safe, our bodies are exposed to negative impacts in the form of stress. Stress is fundamentally a positive trait – we are put on alert and can quickly react and adapt our behaviour and cope with various challenges. But if we do not get rest and recovery, stress will impair our ability to perform.
Prolonged stress results in many different types of physical ailments such as sleep disorders, weakened immune system, headaches and irregular heartbeats. It can also lead to various forms of cardiovascular disease and mental illness.
Choices and life circumstances
Creating the conditions to meet our need for safety seems to be of the utmost importance for our well-being. And as I initially wrote, this is not just about our own choices but is greatly influenced by the life circumstances we find ourselves in. Depending on where we live in the world, we have different opportunities to influence external circumstances. Itt is probably easier – but potentially also very challenging – to influence our inner self.
When I think of safety, three forms emerge: physical, emotional and financial safety. Influencing external circumstances can mean changing where we live, our workplace, circle of friends etc.
Influencing the inner circumstances I can do almost wherever I am. I can, for example, influence my physical safety through exercise, choosing healthy food and trying to improve my sleep quality. And where and how I choose to move my physical body affects my safety.
For me, NVC has been a great way to influence my emotional safety. Basic skills in NVC such as distinguishing between cause and effect and key differentiations such as feelings versus thoughts, are very helpful in dealing with stress reactions within me.
Influencing my financial safety on an internal level can mean changing my view of money. Personally, I have gone from a view of money as the root of greed and oppression to a form of energy that can help me and others to meet needs.
How do you meet your need for safety? Are there aspects in your life that I did not address?
Joachim Berggren (CNVC Certified Trainer)
_ _ _ _
On 1 March at 11:30-12:15 CET, you can participate in a Zoom Talk with me and Ivana Horáková. We will talk about the need for safety.
Sign up for the Needs’ Year and you will receive a link to Zoom.
If you read this afterwards, you can watch the recording when you become a premium subscriber. Check the details HERE.