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Our Deepest Fear - Inspirational Poem by Marianne Williamson

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

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

Jose Galvez on June 07, 2018:

Thank You very nice quote

goblue on December 13, 2014:

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

TapIn2U on January 11, 2014:

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

NibsyNell on May 08, 2013:

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

imagelist lm on April 12, 2013:

Thanks for the great info...

Liz Mackay from United Kingdom on January 31, 2013:

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

Margot_C on December 21, 2012:

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.

RandySturridge on December 05, 2012:

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

anonymous on September 24, 2012:

@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.

JoAnneEvans LM on September 08, 2012:

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.

SquidooManagement on August 08, 2012:

great lense!

anonymous on August 08, 2012:

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!

Elmarie912 on July 20, 2012:

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

Bigsonny on July 11, 2012:

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

asilonline lm on June 25, 2012:

nice lens.

brynimagire on March 27, 2012:

Wonderful lens ! Nice info

Rose Jones on December 23, 2011:

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.

marlene3 on November 22, 2011:

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

anonymous on November 09, 2011:

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.

anonymous on November 09, 2011:

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.

anonymous on October 13, 2011:

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

anonymous on September 04, 2011:

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.

elhuntley lm on August 15, 2011:

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.

decaf95 on July 08, 2011:

if u think real hard about it it helps

TIRMassageStone1 on June 28, 2011:

Thank you.

anonymous on June 19, 2011:

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.

David Stone from New York City on May 28, 2011:

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.

WorldVisionary3 on April 24, 2011:

Thanks for putting together such an inspirational lens!

careermom on April 07, 2011:

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

Renaissance Woman from Colorado on March 31, 2011:

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

Bookmama2 on February 18, 2011:

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!

Patricia on February 12, 2011:

This poem has inspired me. I love it!

Kelsey-Budden-16 on December 24, 2010:

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. :-)

AuthorNormaBudden on December 01, 2010:

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.

BuildingBlockToys on November 23, 2010:

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.

ngrimshawe on July 09, 2010:

I have always loved this quote it is one of my all time favorites. thanks for the lens

Nick

anonymous on July 12, 2009:

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

anonymous on June 09, 2009:

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.

anonymous on May 12, 2009:

it is awesome

Suko on January 11, 2009:

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!!

JudyDunn on November 27, 2008:

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

Patricia on September 18, 2008:

I love this saying of hers. 5*

Squidoo-Pat on August 31, 2008:

Cool. I think we are supposed to go big and small (humble). People must wake up and realize they can do great things and be a very positive influence on those who are rudderless when it comes to morals and ethics.

teamlane on August 28, 2008:

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

Neosoul_Mama on August 25, 2008:

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

Joan4 on August 23, 2008:

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

Tiddledeewinks LM on August 22, 2008:

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.

momsherbs on August 20, 2008:

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

momsherbs on August 20, 2008:

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