We are in the entry hall in our apartment in Järna, south of Stockholm. My partner is lying on an ambulance stretcher and is supported by our midwife to give birth to our son. In the background are two ambulance drivers waiting. The birth started so fast that we never made it to the hospital. I stand next to my partner with my newborn twin daughter in my arms. She is wrapped in a towel and her big eyes look straight into mine.
As I was sitting and writing this blog post, I was wondering what personal story I should introduce the need with. I thought of various contexts I have been involved in where my actions were of importance for the development of events. Maybe I should take something from work or from some NVC context? Suddenly it hit me! There is one area of my life where my importance can’t be questioned and where my need to matter is so obviously fulfilled that I’m almost ashamed that I didn’t think about it earlier.
I am the father of five children. Three of them are my biological. Without me, they would not exist. This fact that I have been involved in creating life is for me a very obvious sign of importance. To be able to support a small human every day who would not be able to survive without my (or others’) support – this is really significant!
This blog post will be a more pondering exploration than what I am usually writing in this blog post series. I notice that the need “to matter” is a bit vague within me (at the same time as I’m writing this, it’s also becoming a bit clearer – my understanding seems to be a dynamic process rather than an established fact).
The Swedish and English needs lists do not really match. In the Swedish need lists there is the need of significance and in the English there is to matter. Words are, as I see it, only pointers to our experiences. But depending on how I define a word, it will point to different shades of experience within me. So even though I do not want to confuse the word, or the label, I attach to a need, with the life energy/experience itself, I still want to capture this quality of to matter or significance within me.
A characteristic of “to matter” that pops into my mind is that my participation in something has a meaning. Without me, the world would be different. Getting the need to matter met does not have to happen through life-changing events (such as creating life) or efforts that change the world in a noticeable way. It can also happen in objectively small ways, such as someone noticing something I have done or that I myself am aware that my presence has had some impact.
It may be about some form of resonance, that my presence has an impact on my surroundings. Without me, life would not be the same. I do not want my actions to only contribute to the survival of my physical body, as a means of “transport” from the time I was born to the day I die. I do not just want to influence my own well-being and meet my own needs. I want that what I choose to put my time and energy into is important, that it has an impact on those I am in contact with and also beyond.
When I think about the need “to matter”, it is very close to the need for meaning. The difference for me is probably caused by two things. For me, “to matter” is more connected to other people and also more connected to actions now. Meaningfulness is also linked to the present – I believe that everything we experience and all need fulfillment is linked to the present moment – but I probably see meaningfulness more linked to long-term goals and values.
What is your experience of the need “to matter” and how do you fulfill it in your life? Leave me a comment below.
Joachim Berggren (CNVC Certified Trainer)
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On Friday (11 February 2022 at 18:00 CET), you can participate in a Zoom Talk with me and Sarah Peyton. We will talk about the need to matter.
Sign up for the Needs’ Year and you will receive a link to Zoom.
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