Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”
Marianne Williamson
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30 Responses to “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate”

  1. Dominik says:

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  8. Brian says:

    I feel a little bit better, knowing that I was not the only one duped by the internet. I first heard this quote watching the movie ‘Coach Carter’ and was immediately impressed by the words, and ended up writing them down and tacking them to the front of my desk to look at every time I am sitting there. Paul, I know that this is different for everyone, but on a personal level I have always been inspired by this quote, because it is very rare to find those pursuits that you truly devote yourself too. All too often I find myself slacking not to outperform my peers, and acting dumb in order to not call attention to myself, or in whatever way shirking the responsibility to live to your fullest potential just because of how society dictates your actions. I feel as though there is so much that humans are capable of, and yet negativity and laziness exist, just because people allow it to by not acting as a role model, and as Williamson says, letting ‘our presence liberate others’. I think we all know one or two people that truly inspire us and bring out our best. I like to think that this is what she is talking about, and that we too, can inspire and bring out the best in everyone around us, just by living how we know is right, not just doing what is easy or following the crowd.

    • LILLIE ANN says:

      Somewhere I read its original author – neither Williamson nor Mandela, but don’t remember who it was. I think at least a hundred years before either.

  9. Colin says:

    That makes sense… I always thought it was mr Mandela, but though it strange that he should be talking about The glory of God while not a Christian

  10. Dave says:

    Thanks for sharing, I saw it in a few places before.
    I think that in reference to “the light” she means what you are called towards to do with your life, and not what you are necessarily good at, as you would first perceive from reading the quote. It means that you are afraid of what you are called to do with yourself in your life and that you are afraid of not following “the light” to this end goal. Who are you not to step up to the plate and offer your natural gifts to the table for the betterment of others? People are afraid of what they could do (“powerful beyond measure”), but not doing what it takes to make the difference.
    Requires some thought, but it’s one of my all time favorites.

  11. paul says:

    Thanks! For quite some time now I’ve been attributing this to Mandela. And that is because I heard this as part of a sermon or lecture in my former church and there attributed to Mandela. Thanks.
    At any rate, it is an interesting thought: that we are scared of our brilliance. Why? We tear each other down. At the same time, our brilliance is not unique; we are ALL this light. So it shouldn’t become an ego thing. We all have this. So we balance our brilliance with the recognition that we are all brilliant, and the result is confident, compassionate humility. Just thinking as I type. Someone tell me if I’m on to something. (Grand statement followed by humble dismissal).

  12. June says:

    Tim, you have to keep living. You have to be very successful to get this quote.

  13. erecia says:

    beautiful quote. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Tim says:

    This is the most retarded quote ever. . . I have never feared being too good for any reason or at anything. Nor has any other human being I have ever met.

  15. George McGriffin Lo says:

    Hello 2010 World Cup South African Office:
    I asked a question on Fifa.com, the question was:
    “Who will win the World Cup?”
    Your answer was:
    “Hello Mr. Bejees
    It is relevant that Spain will win the World Cup this year due to Holland’s violent fouls. We also determine that Spain will win because of the poor-judging referees this year. We sincerely appologize for foul football matches.
    with regards
    The World Cup Office”

    They answered my question three days BEFORE the final match! Isn’t that amazing?!?!
    I really believe what The 2010 World Cup South African Office said about Nelson Mandella is true.
    I will never change my mind about Fifa.com’s securing and relevant answers.
    Thank you very much 2010 World Cup South African Office

  16. 2010 World Cup South African Office says:

    It is said that Nelson Mandela loved to read. It is believed that while in his prison cell, he was permitted to read one of the books in the Prison Library, or order the book from home.

    He chose one of his favorite books by Marianne Williamson in the book RETURN TO LOVE. When he was released, and before he was put on the stand for his inaugural speech,he chose this paragraph from Marianne Williamson’s book, he thought it was the perfect way to make his speech.

    Any more questions? Then go to wwww.fifa.com and ASK ABOUT IT

  17. daniel says:

    Did you ever find the original source?

  18. It is my belief and understanding that the origins of this quote date back to the 16th Century. Although Marianne Williamson uses sections of this quote, as does Nelson Mandella, the original source is ancient. It is my pleasure to search again my books to make this clear.

  19. Simon Zatku Meht Kombunstza says:

    Can somebody tell the specific meaning of this quote, and how this helps you in your personal life? I am very interested in Nelson Mandella and wish to learn more about this quote.

  20. Paul Henry Bachteler says:

    Maybe our deepest fear in this case is simply being misunderstood or misquoted. I have been inspired by the quote and in some ways it did not matter who uttered it. I thought it was from former President Nelson Mandela. I could imagine him saying it. I even believe he would say it. I had to google to find out where it was from and eventually read all of the pertinent speeches discovering it was Marianne Williamson.
    I think it would be wonderful if former President Nelson Mandela could be persuaded to utter these words thus bringing everything full circle.
    It reminds me of another fallacy which I have always found fascinating. The Hundredth Monkey phenomenon or hypothesis. I love the idea it represents. However the research it is extrapolated from shows that nothing of the kind happened from which to glean the hundredth monkey idea. Just another new age legend.

  21. Blessed Ben says:

    good qoute and inspiring indeed

  22. me says:

    our deepest fear is not htat we are inadequate. our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. it is our light not our darkness that most frightens. we ask our selves who am i to be briliant gorgeous talented fabulous? actually who are you not to be. you are a child of god. your playing small does not serve teh world. there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that others won’t feel insecure around u. we are all meant to shine as children do. we were born to make manifest the glory of god tht is within us. its not just in some of us, its in everyone. and as we let our own light shime we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. as we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

  23. baMbie says:

    very inspiring..

  24. IluvQuotes says:

    I thought this has a Nelson Mandela quote as well… Good to know it’s true source…

  25. Jessie James says:

    Thanks foir this great quote. It says so much about us.

  26. Corey says:

    I’ve corrected the Quote above. :)

  27. Corey says:

    Thanks John… I didn’t know this.

    Actually I’m a big Marianne Williamson fan. I’ve seen her speak a few times and just didn’t know it was a quote from her.

    Appreciate you taking the time to point out this error.

  28. John F. says:

    Nice quote, and that you for sharing it. I thought you might be interested in knowing where it really came from. It is widely misattributed on the Web and elsewhere to Nelson Mandela’s 1994 inaugural address. A quick search through that very speech on the ANC’s official web site confirms that the quotation isn’t there (URL below).

    As it turns out, the author of the quotation is Marianne Williamson, from her 1992 book, “Return to Love” (p. 165).

    Just to be extra sure, I wrote to the ANC (info@anc.org.za) asking about this very quote, and their representative Duncan Harford confirmed my suspicions:

    — begin include message —

    From: “dharford”
    To: “J. Finlayson-Fife”
    Subject: Re: Our Deepest Fear
    Date: Tue, 20 Aug 2002 07:47:57 +0200

    Hello John

    We are aware that these words have for some years now been attributed to Nelson Mandela on the internet. We do not know how this happened

    These words appear neither in the May 9, 1994 inaugural speech

    nor the May 10, 1994 inaugural speech

    nor any of the other speeches, statements and writings by Mr. Mandela



    — end included message —

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