Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) famously used his mom’s phrase “look for the helpers” to reassure children who were worried and scared after 9/11. He shared that when he was worried or scared about something that had happened, his mom told him to “Look for the helpers. There are always helpers.”

Yesterday, “look for the helpers” popped into my mind in a different context. I was at a holiday lunch with one of the groups I facilitate, talking about how I’d been struggling to get people into MAD! Workspace for Women (the coworking space I own). One of the women at the table remarked that the way I market MAD! is wretched. Since she’s a member of MAD! and a great marketer, I sat up and paid attention.

As I drove back to the office, Mr. Rogers’ quote popped into my head. I realized that this woman was a helper because when I told her I was struggling, she offered her help, and I received it. Helpers can only help us if we allow it.

Think about it. How many times have you been out in the wild, and someone offered an idea or opinion that instantly clarified something you’d been struggling with? Did you recognize them as helpers immediately, or did it take a minute?

My Mantra that Attracts Helpers

I recite a mantra every morning to help me recognize help when it pops up: “Keep my eyes, ears, heart, and mind open to what’s out there for me today.” I’ve found it helps me move away from my own tightly held agenda and opens me up to recognize inspiration and help when it appears.

It also enables me to attract helpers because I’ve put it out in the Universe that I know there’s help, enlightenment, and encouragement out there – and I’m open to it.

For example, it’s been a tough week (year). So, today when I received a text from a client thanking me for helping her get the perfect job, I recognized it as the inspiration I needed. It was the right feedback at the right time! I love it when I’m helped by the people I help!

When we’re struggling through big things like grief, serious illness, relationship issues or even small things like sick kids, opening doors, traveling, planning a party, practicing for an interview, it’s so easy to miss the helpers. Think back to the last time your arms were full (of kids or packages) and someone turned around and held that door for you. Remember the lift you felt from receiving their help? I see you smiling! Here’s the thing: Offering help to you lifted them, too.

Helping People Helps the Helper

It’s always interesting when a client hesitates about reaching out directly to a contact at a company they’re applying to, particularly when they know the person well. They don’t want to impose. It takes some convincing for them to get comfortable reaching out. I’ll say it again: People want to help. They want to make a difference for other people.

And, I think that right now, at this time and place in the world, many people feel adrift because they’re struggling to figure out a way to have an impact – any impact. When we accept that help or ask for help, we gift our helpers with that amazing feeling of making a difference, of having a positive impact on someone’s life.

It also feels good on the receiving side.

Think back to a time when someone offered to hold a door, cook a meal, grab something at the store, or take you to the MARTA station and, instead of saying yes immediately, you engaged in a back and forth over whether you were going to let them help you.

Imagine the relief you would have felt if you had immediately responded with, “Wow, thanks! That would be great!”

Then there’s my favorite and most controversial helper, the one that offers to pay for your meal. Come on. ‘Fess up. How many times have you engaged in a back and forth over that? To combat that inclination, one of the first things I work on in all of my groups is accepting gifts immediately. Immediately. Without disclaimers like, “It’s too much! You don’t have to do that!”

Try this at home (or anywhere).

Try it. Look at your friend’s face when you let them give you something – when you say “Thank you! That’s so nice!” They’re beaming. Yep. Gifting you is a big deal to them, or they wouldn’t have offered in the first place.

I get it. I’ve struggled with recognizing the gift of any type of help when it’s offered. How did I move past that and become more open to recognizing helpers quickly? Practice, practice, practice.

I took a pretty radical approach to recognizing help when it was offered. For a long time, I forced myself to always responded with “Yes, thank you!” You can imagine how hard it was to say yes every time.

Practice makes permanent?

Even after years of practice, while I’m better at recognizing the gift of help when it’s offered, I can still be reluctant to accept that help. Particularly, I can be reluctant when I’m offered help with something I really want to do on my own, like the two Holiday Gatherings at my house this week. You know why I hesitate, right? Yep. The big C. CONTROL. SMH. Seriously, smack my head.

Pretty sure most of you have done the same thing. It happened like this. When the women (every one of them) in both groups asked what they could bring, I turned all offers down – at first. Finally, finally I got smart and accepted the help that had been offered. And when I recognized they wanted to be helpers and let them? My shoulders lowered, I exhaled loudly, and focused on the tasks only I could do.

And, gold star please, I even asked a couple of people to come early to help with setup. They were thrilled.

It’s the season of giving.

It’s also the season of receiving. I’m now a fervent believer in the beauty and power of both receiving and giving.

What can you do to recognize the helpers around you? How can you get out of your own way?

You can use my mantra: (God/Universe/Goddess) keep my eyes, ears, heart, and mind open to what’s out there for me today.

You can also say “Yes, thank you!” when a helper pops up in front of you.

You’ll be giving both of you a gift.

It is better to both receive and give.

Take good care,
December 2023