“Has no one seen anything?!”. In disbelief, I stare at the place where I parked my bike. It’s gone! No one on the outdoor terrace seems to have noticed anything. No one answers. For a couple of minutes I’m in shock and my head is empty. In this state I make a live recording on Facebook and tell what happened. 

After the initial shock, my brain is already starting to work on finding solutions. I’m calling the police and starting planning my coming days. Within the first hour, my friend Petra from Bremen created a crowdfunding campaign. A day later, lots of known and unknown friends had collected 1000 Euros and I was able to buy a new bike and continue my journey.

The power of support

The incident occurred during my project NVCtrip 2019 on the way to Camino de Santiago in Spain. I was prepared that not everything would go smoothly, but I did not expect the bike to be stolen. If I had not received any support from Petra and my friends, I would somehow have managed the situation anyway. However, the experience of having lots of people as supporters really made a difference.

Physically, I was alone on my trip, but in the coming days, many accompanied me on my ride. It gave me a lot of energy and sometimes when I was completely exhausted, I could cycle a few more kilometres out of pure gratitude. For a while, Petra and I thought that someone had donated 2,500 Euros. It didn’t matter that it later turned out that it was two zeros too much, I was full of joy for several days.

A collective need

Support is one of these needs I recently have described as collective needs. For sure, individuals can experience support in relation to contexts not involving other people. My life and survival are supported by nature and the earth itself. A lot of people find support in spiritual beliefs. I know that pet owners experience the support of their animals. However, in my life I’m aware of and experience support mostly in relation to other people.

No matter what resources we have, how much time, energy and money we hold, there are countless ways to provide support. We can contribute with material, physical, psychological and spiritual support. Periodically we have more time and sometimes we have more material resources. The strategies are endless! It is only our imagination that sets the limits.

Expanding our awareness

As we learn NVC, we can expand our ability to meet and receive support. I see several possibilities. The first thing that comes to my mind is that many of us are afraid of being in debt to others. Therefore we often say “no” when someone offers their support. I guess we don’t want to owe anyone anything and on these occasions prefer to refrain from receiving support. What would it be like to instead gratefully receive support?

Another opportunity is to develop our needs awareness. Instead of seeing our needs as a burden to others, we can see them as a gift. By acknowledging and cherishing our needs, we can ask others to support us. At the same time, we help them meet their need to contribute. A real win-win situation!

Receiving support regardless of the message

An additional way is to listen to what others say no matter how they express themselves. It’s quite easy to experience support when people express gratitude and appreciation. On the contrary, when they express themselves in relation to unmet needs, we have a tendency to interpret what they say as criticism and judgments. 

I can choose to take another approach. When they express themselves in relation to something I’ve done, I can hear what they say as feedback. They help me to see how my actions have affected them. I can receive this information as support. With the help of this information, I can choose actions that take more needs into account.

What support do you want in life? And in what ways can you support others?

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-24/ 


Joachim Berggren (CNVC Certified Trainer)

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On 16 June at 19:00-19:45 CEST, you can participate in a Zoom Talk with me and Mireille van Bremen. We will talk about the need for support.

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.

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