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Our Deepest Fear - Inspirational Poem by Marianne Williamson

Updated on December 14, 2014

Our Deepest Fear—An Inspirational Poem

This widely acclaimed poem is actually not a poem at all, but an excerpt from A Return To Love, a book by motivational speaker and author Marianne Williamson. The passage has such inspirational power that it is now a stand-alone mantra for a generation of exceptional individuals who wish to motivate themselves and others to live up to their fullest potential.

The word "deepest" is often replaced with "greatest" in reprints of the passage, although the original uses "deepest," as seen below. The poem is a cultural phenomenon that is quickly becoming one of today's most well-known inspirational quotes from a living author.

Our Deepest Fear—Also the Poem Featured in Coach Carter

In the movie Coach Carter (2005) tells the story of of Richmond High School (of Richmond, California) basketball coach Kenneth Carter, who made local headlines for benching his undefeated team due to poor academic performance. In the film, one of the student athletes recites "Our Greatest Fear" when Coach Carter asks the team what their greatest fear was.

This recitation of "Our Greatest Fear" was very powerful and brought widespread attention to and interest in Marianne Williamson and her work. See below for the poem.

Our Deepest Fear

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, handsome, talented, and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.

It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Our Deepest Fear Scene from Coach Carter

Note: This Quote is Often Mistakenly Attributed To Nelson Mandela

Many internet sources erroneously credit Nelson Mandela as quoting "Our Deepest Fear" in one of his speeches. However, the African National Congress (ANC) explicitly states that none of Nelson Mandela's speeches contain the quote.

A Return to Love

A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"
A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"

Get the book that started it all! With "Our Greatest Fear" in it's original context and much more from motivational guru Marianne Williamson.

 

How Has This Poem Inspired YOU? - "Our Deepest Fear" is a motivational work that has inspired thousands of people. What's YOUR story?

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    • profile image

      momsherbs 8 years ago

      I see we think alike. This is one of my favorite quotes also. I even have it on a squidoo page I am working on:

      wwww.squidoo.com/quotes_affrimations_scriptures

    • profile image

      momsherbs 8 years ago

      I see we think alike. This is one of my favorite quotes also. I even have it on a squidoo page I am working on:

      wwww.squidoo.com/quotes_affrimations_scriptures

    • Tiddledeewinks LM profile image

      Tiddledeewinks LM 8 years ago

      I knew of Marianne Williamson from "A Course in Miracles", but hadn't found the quote mentioned here. Thoughts are things and some can be a great motivator. Great lens.

    • profile image

      Joan4 8 years ago

      oh yes! This is one of my favorite quotes! Marianne Williamson is one of my favorite authors, too! Great lens!

    • profile image

      Neosoul_Mama 8 years ago

      Oh, I love it. Not only have you inspired me, you've given me a new idea for a lens!

    • teamlane profile image

      teamlane 8 years ago

      Another excellent lens I.C.! 5* :o)

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 8 years ago

      I love this saying of hers. 5*

    • JudyDunn profile image

      JudyDunn 8 years ago

      I have it hanging in my studio. I want to be reminded regularly of these words.

    • profile image

      Suko 8 years ago

      It is a very inspirational poem. I raed Marianne Williamson's work many years ago and loved it. It's refreshing to reread it.

      Terrific, inspirational lens (the best kind)! 5 star!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      it is awesome

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I find it true and inspiriational. If you look at those around you especially the ones who have the "No Fear" attitude ie young "tough guys" I think you will find that they are ultimitely paralyzed by fear. Mainly the fear of failure so they don't even try. They engage in destructive behavior to run away from the fear that they could be great and just don't know how. We all need help in facing these fears, God, family, friends, coaches, teachers and mentors, exhaust them all.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      To me this is a summation of Romans chapter 8. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of GOD to be revealed

    • BuildingBlockToys profile image

      BuildingBlockToys 6 years ago

      Wow that is one powerful quote. You know, I had heard the first two lines a long time ago and I think it was attributed to Mandela at that time. Now I know.

    • AuthorNormaBudden profile image

      AuthorNormaBudden 6 years ago

      This is the first time I've read this. I feel the poem may be an eye-opener to those who continually try to put themselves down, or downplay their capabilities just to feel more on the level of others, thus accepted. However, for a person like myself who has always tried my utmost to be the best I can be, it merely serves as a reminder that I'm on the right track.

    • Kelsey-Budden-16 profile image

      Kelsey-Budden-16 6 years ago

      I can't really say how it's inspired me yet but, I can say that I've loved it ever since I heard it. First time I heard it was on my all time favorite movie - Coach Carter. Since then, I have to look back at the poem here and there just to give myself a little push. :-)

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 6 years ago

      This poem has inspired me. I love it!

    • Bookmama2 profile image

      Bookmama2 6 years ago

      Yes, I looked up the poem after watching Coach Carter yesterday. It's funny, I had seen Coach Carter once before and hadn't even remembered the poem, but this time it jumped out at me. Maybe I noticed it more because I am trying to launch a new business and very aware that I am not 100% comfortable with the idea of being great.

      I just went and added an item to my lens at: https://hubpages.com/business/rich-people-talk about rich people being comfortable with greatness and included a link to this lens. I shall be back again to reread!

      P.S. I also like how you did your bio with links... a technique that hadn't occurred to me. Good job!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      I have always considered this a very powerful work. Very thought-provoking. Thanks for sharing it with a larger audience.

    • profile image

      careermom 5 years ago

      I love it. A dear friend has it posted on the wall of her office to remind herself every day. It is very motivational.

    • WorldVisionary3 profile image

      WorldVisionary3 5 years ago

      Thanks for putting together such an inspirational lens!

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 5 years ago from New York City

      Marianne Williamson is a super-dynamic woman. She relates powerfully to live audiences. Although this particular piece doesn't speak to me, much of what she has to say does. It's great you shined a light on her.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This poem inspires me to remember all the successes I have succeeded in, no matter how small they are. When I see those small successes it leads me to others and builds confidence and encourages others around me to succeed too. Thank you for posting Our Deepest Fears.

    • TIRMassageStone1 profile image

      TIRMassageStone1 5 years ago

      Thank you.

    • profile image

      decaf95 5 years ago

      if u think real hard about it it helps

    • elhuntley lm profile image

      elhuntley lm 5 years ago

      I love this lens! It is a great reminder to children of God to Rise and Shine! Walk in the power in which the Almighty God has given you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      How can I find something speaks to me, if it's based off a religious ideal I don't believe in?

      Motivational quotes that don't involve fallacy are few and far between.

      Although, I will say it is written excellently and perhaps that is why it "speaks" to some of the less astute non-believers in the world, and hence why it is so popular.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      It has made me discover my true self and as such i've become more confident than ever before knowing that it is my right to shine

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I first heard the poem on the movie Akeelah and the Bee. It touched my heart deeply. As I do not have a remote for my DVD player I tried pausing the movie to write down the whole poem because I loved it so much and I wanted to share it with my Bible Study Class. I had been praying about the fear in me and this poem was an answer to my prayer. I plan pn doing a class on fear and I am going to share this poem with my class. Thank You for allowing God to use you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I first heard the poem on the movie Akeelah and the Bee. It touched my heart deeply. As I do not have a remote for my DVD player I tried pausing the movie to write down the whole poem because I loved it so much and I wanted to share it with my Bible Study Class. I had been praying about the fear in me and this poem was an answer to my prayer. I plan pn doing a class on fear and I am going to share this poem with my class. Thank You for allowing God to use you.

    • marlene3 profile image

      marlene3 5 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading your poem. You did a fantastic job! Thanks & thumbs up!!!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      I love this poem and I loved "Coach Carter." I live not too far away from Richmond and I really appreciate what he did in that troubled neighborhood.

    • profile image

      brynimagire 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens ! Nice info

    • asilonline lm profile image

      asilonline lm 4 years ago

      nice lens.

    • profile image

      Bigsonny 4 years ago

      Its really inspiring..Truth is it that while many kids are afraid of darkness, most adults are afraid of the light!

    • Elmarie912 profile image

      Elmarie912 4 years ago

      I loved the video! I do not think people are to lazy to shine. It is that they are too scared.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I need to point out a typo in the version this site gives. It should read "we UNconsciously give other people permission..." not "consciously" either way though it is very inspiring! I could read this a million times and I would still get goose bumps on the 1millionth read!

    • profile image

      SquidooManagement 4 years ago

      great lense!

    • JoAnneEvans LM profile image

      JoAnneEvans LM 4 years ago

      I LOVE this quote. It has been a great inspiration for myself and a few of my friends. It gets you through the bad times.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: really..???? we make a conscious decision to let our light shine and in so doing consciously give other people the permission to do the same.

    • RandySturridge profile image

      RandySturridge 4 years ago

      I greatly enjoyed your lens. A breath of fresh air. I squidliked it and shared it as far and wide as I could. I am relatively new to to squidoo and have but one lens thus far "my poetry corner" please do check it out

    • profile image

      Margot_C 4 years ago

      Nice poem. I do believe that you can't make a positive impact on others until you feel positive about yourself. Thanks for sharing - this is my first exposure to the poem.

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Needed this tonight as I have hit a low spot just recently. Perhaps I'll be more motivated tomorrow. Thanks for sharing.

    • imagelist lm profile image

      imagelist lm 3 years ago

      Thanks for the great info...

    • NibsyNell profile image

      NibsyNell 3 years ago

      Love this poem. I find it so illuminating, truthful and motivating.

    • TapIn2U profile image

      TapIn2U 3 years ago

      Fear limits us. Overcome fear and a whole world of possibilities await! Fantastic lens! Sundae ;-)

    • profile image

      goblue 2 years ago

      I shared it with my daughter, simply because it was one of the most beautiful poems that I have read in years. Thanks Ms. Marianne Williamson

      from Ms. Sandy Blue, Former Educator, in ATL

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