8 Dream Lessons I Learned From The Movie The Help

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Catherine Hughes

Director of the 8 Women Dream Project at 8 Women Dream
Catherine’s dream is to make 8 Women Dream the premier online publication for women looking to pursue their dreams. She is a published author, a freelance writer, and a guide for those who want their dreams to come true online. Catherine would someday like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations about her 8WD project inviting women to take a chance on their dreams. Wine was required... Catherine posts on Sunday evenings and fills in dream stories as needed. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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Photo by Dale Robinette — © DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC

Photo by Dale Robinette — © DreamWorks II Distribution Co., LLC




These are the women dreamers from Kathryn Stockett’s New York Times best-selling book and movie, The Help.

While the story takes place in 1962, there are lessons to be learned about successful dreaming in this story about racial inequality in the south.

In The Help, Aibileen, Skeeter and Minnie risk everything to write a book about life in Jackson Mississippi.

Through the process of writing their stories Aibileen becomes empowered to become a writer on her own.

8 Dream Lessons I Learned from The Help –

1. Being different makes you special.

There will never be anyone else who is exactly like you — ever. You are one of a kind, a unique individual. You were put on this earth to follow your heart, to strike out on your own path and not follow the crowd.

Be like Aibileen, Skeeter and Minnie: have the courage to push your differences into something more in order to change your life and find true happiness.

Being different takes courage. Using your courage makes you confident. Confidence in your abilities makes you special, because you are.

2. Courage is your best friend.

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

This is a quote by Winston Churchill and nothing could be more true about the relationship between the characters Aibileen and Skeeter. Dreams require that you push through your fears and stand up for your dream. It will  demand that you take chances and speak up when you think there is an opportunity. You have to ask for what you want. You have to raise your hand. You have to open your mouth.

And you have to know when to sit down, shut-up, listen, and take good notes.

3. You must focus.

Big dreams require focus and a literary agent who gives you three weeks to finish. Your dream needs deadlines. Deadlines help you focus and move forward. Deadlines make you do what you don’t want to do when you don’t want to do it. Deadlines take you from playing the victim in your dream life to being a participant.

Behave like Skeeter’s agent and make yourself achieve one big goal towards your dream in the next three weeks.

4. Working on a dream will change you.

Working on your dream shapes your reality, helps control your demotivating habits and the events that influence your life. Suddenly it isn’t so important that you go out drinking with your girlfriends or find a man to disappear into. You become too busy. You have new-found passion for your life. You begin to work on yourself in the best possible way.

Life will take on new meaning and suddenly the everyday small stuff just doesn’t matter anymore.

Troubles will become like silly commodes on a perfectly manicured lawn.

5. Attitude is everything.

You can choose to label what shows up in your dream life as either an opportunity or a threat. However it might look, what are you going to do about it? If an opportunity is handed to you are you going to take it? If something gets in the way of your dream — what will you do about it?

Will your attitude allow you to quit when things aren’t going the way you want?

Ask yourself: what would Minnie do?

Understanding the role your attitude plays in the achievement of your dream helps you maintain motivation and plan for the ups and and downs on the road towards success. Decide up front how far you are willing to go to achieve success before you make a commitment to pursue your dream.

6. Your dream should be aligned what you really want in life.

The character Skeeter wanted to go to work at a publishing house in New York City. The literary agent she wants to work for advises that she find something controversial to write about. She begins to look around her environment and chose a subject close to home.

Except this choice could ruin her life.

Don’t allow your current personal situation get in the way of your dream.  Go after your dream because you are compelled beyond reason to do it.  Go after your dream because it is the right thing to do.

7. Listen to your gut instincts.

Does your dream pull you into it? Do you feel connected to it? Your gut will never fail you when it comes to your dream. Only you know deep down inside if it is something you feel compelled to do.

If your dream isn’t pulling you in over and over then you have to look at what is wrong with your dream.

Are you compelled enough to call a stranger and ask for help with your dream?  Would you pick up the phone and call a literary agent?  Would you follow your gut and just go for it?

If not … are you depressed? Is this a pattern? Or are you chasing the wrong dream?

What does your gut tell you?  Does it tell you to make a special pie?

8. You must be willing to pay the price.

Nothing worthwhile comes easy or free. It’s like some unwritten law that you must work hard and be willing to move through each obstacle that appears before the world will grant you your dream. It was BC Forbes who said,

“History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.”

What kind of price are you willing to pay for your dreams? Will you let go of a boyfriend? Will you risk getting fired? Will you risk ridicule . . . embarrassment . . . failure?

As I sat in the movie theater watching the women of The Help, I thought about their dream journey. They showed up when it wasn’t prudent to do so and were rewarded for their courage. Maybe this is what the author, Katheryn Stockett wanted us to take away from her story: face your fears ladies and do the thing you think you cannot do.

Because …

We are powerful beyond measure and capable of anything.


**The image used here is the property of © 2010 DreamWorks Studios and the thumbnail image is used for educational purposes only. Click on the image to visit their website and go see the movie, The Help.
  • “Life will take on new meaning and suddenly the everyday small stuff just doesn’t matter anymore.”

    This is one element of dreaming that I have experienced several times. All encompassing with a positive spin is a great thing.

    Thanks for the reminders!

    – Heather

  • Destiny

    I like this website concept very much. There is a saying by John Andrew Holmes, “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” You are lifting women up by example, sort of the theme to The Help don’t you think?

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