"...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, 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 that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

This passage is commonly mis-attributed to Nelson Mandela's 1994 Inaugural Address.

It actually comes from the book 'A Return To Love' (1992) by Marianne Williamson



I created the original version of this page more than eightyears ago on one of Yahoo's (now defunct) free-hosted "Geocities" web sites:http://web.archive.org/web/20040910184030/http://w...

At the time, nearly every web site sharing the "Our deepest fear.." quote on the internet cited "Nelson Mandela's 1994 Inaugural Address"as its source.

[ It almost seemed as if the only people aware that this was a falseattribution were Nelson Mandela, Marianne Williamson, and those who had actually read her book! ]

Over the years since then, many of those web sites have correctly re-attributed the quote (- often, in the process, kindly referencing this particular page).

Though, the internet being what it is, misinformation continues to spread in the blink of an eye, and the myth about Mandela and the quote is still very much alive and well.

I often receive emails about this page.
Some people simply voicing their surprise that the myth is so wide-spread;
some asking if I am sure I've got my facts right;
and on occasion, one or two verging on the hostile - demanding to know why I would pretend that the wordsweren't Nelson Mandelas - why I would fabricate such misinformation, and why I should wish to dis-respect Nelson Mandela in this way !!

To be absolutely clear:

The "Our deepest fear.." quotewas not writtenby Nelson Mandela
Nor was it written by a speech-writer forNelson Mandela

It was notused - as the myth would have it - "by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 Inaugural Address"

In fact, even the reference to Nelson Mandela's "Inaugural Address" (i.e. Inaugural Speech) is itself somewhat incorrect.

Nelson Mandela actually gave twoInaugural Addresses/Speeches:

the first, on 9th May 1994 at Cape Town - see here

the second, on 10th May 1994 at Pretoria - see here

And, as can clearly be seen from the transcripts, the " Our deepest fear..." quote is not to be found in either of them.


"Several years ago, this paragraph from A RETURN TO LOVE began popping up everywhere, attributed to Nelson Mandela's l994 Inaugural Address. As honored as I would be had President Mandela quoted my words, indeed he did not. I have no idea where that story came from, but I am gratified that the paragraph has come to mean so much to so many people."

Marianne Williamson



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