Beyond Fear


Fearless, stoic he stands above me on the hill. As majestic in his stillness as in a walk or trot. The black horse is one of a pair I regularly encounter on my walk whilst in Sweden. At times they deign to come near the fence, but never too close; other times they’ll stand afar, then glance up. Often I stop to observe their grand stance, their all-knowing demeanour, their fearlessness. 

Fear seems to be all pervasive in our society in recent times, not only on a global political level but on on a personal, emotional one too. Fear rules so much in our lives.

Seeing the silhouette of the horse against the ethereal sky I feel its courage emanate from its very being. Fearless. A saying I used to comfort my son (and myself) comes to mind and with so few words A. A. Milne’s encapsulates the motto on how to live life and how to garner belief in ourselves. 

Meanwhile I also recall a longer speech by the esteemed former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela on his inauguration in 1994. His wonderful heart-felt speech is a declaration to ourselves, to never let fear and feeling of worthlessness rule our lives. I never fail to be drawn in by the initially alarming, unexpected first two lines: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate./ Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Both these quotes have seen me through some tough times, supported me, given me courage, even solace. I hope you enjoy them and find them comforting, inspiring and that their spirit will equally enhance your sense of fortitude. 

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, 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 doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel  insecure around you.
We were all meant to shine like children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God 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.

By Nelson Mandela     1994

74 thoughts on “Beyond Fear

  1. Perfect timing, my friend. Fear has tried to take a front row seat lately. Thank you for the Nelson Mandela quote. I need to take it to my fridge. I love that you and your son say “Fearless”. I might try that!

    1. Jessica, thank you so much for comment! 😀 It is a great quote to have up somewhere in house and I had the Mandela one on my study wall for ages…inspiring and actually gave me strength! Yep, think we all need to be more fearless in this world of ours! ♥️

  2. Anonymous

    Interesting piece Annika. Fear is a strange thing – I often persuade myself that there is nothing to be afraid of and then suddenly I am out in the dark and I feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end for no reason. I suppose we have to trust our base instinct of self protection too. Strange. Perhaps its a case of be brave but be careful.


    1. Mike, I do wonder though that perhaps there IS a reason to feel that supposed irrational fear – it’s just something we can’t see. Your last sentence is wise and one to adopt in life! 😀

    1. I know, we can but try!😀 Not only wise but he remained steadfast throughout his long and difficult life and its trails…we can but read, learn and try to take on board some of his words and thoughts! 😃

  3. Annika, I was fascinated by the story of the horses. They sound so powerful and beautiful! The message from Nelson Mandela is also quite inspiring by encouraging people to embrace their talents and strengths and spread the light to others. I liked reading this very much, thank you 🙂

    1. Lana, I am so so sorry! Looking through some older posts I just saw I somehow missed replying to your lovely comment. I’m really sorry…😢 Oh, you are right about the horses…but alas we haven’t seen them this summer! It’s silly how I miss them and I’m keeping a lookout for the owners to see where they’ve gone…on a holiday, perhaps?! 😀😀 The Mandela quote is one I often return to, reading it aloud and its positive message gives me strength! Fabulously powerful and reinforcing the power within us and not to be quiet about it! Warmest wishes and hope you’re having a lovely summer. 😀❤️

      1. No problem, Annika. I know how it is. This summer has been like a steamroller for me. I’ve not gotten any writing done, but I have gotten many other things accomplished, so I must reconcile myself to be happy with that. I hope you are also having a wonderful summer!

  4. Annika, this was an amazing and moving post. I feel stronger through the power of these words. Nelson Mandela was strong despite being torn down and imprisoned. He held his truths closely and knew in his heart he was “right.” Just imagine our trying to be strong, against all odds.
    Winnie the Pooh, through A.A. Milne’s books and characters, taught us quite a lot!
    We need to trust in our gifts and talents, believing we deserve better lives. This may help more people from our strength than through our huddling in fear. (Just what he said, making sense in my mind.)
    I will get over my depression of the American political decision and find comfort in our country’s checks and balances. By passing on positive thoughts, we can help others to move forward together. 🙂 Thanks so much!

    1. Wow, Robin, thank you so much for your beautiful heart-felt comment – very moving indeed. Nelson Mandela was a hero of mine and I remember the day he was released from prison, when we all thought it impossible. All his life on one mission, true to himself and everyone around him. I think he learned more wisdom with years, he never judged others, gave willingly of his time and knowledge and care. Yep, then the A A Milne – I quite liked the cheek of having such different people and their quotes on the one page – but both with a similar message. I cheer you on with sharing positive thoughts … 😀😃 Hoping you’re having a lovely weekend!😀

      1. Thank you, Annika! I am sometimes like a full circling the water’s edge. I check out posts as I think of them, randomly (and I hope somewhat “valiantly” 😉 ) I appreciate your liking how enthusiastic I became about Nelson Mandela’s brave choices.
        Winnie the Pooh (“House at Pooh’s Corner”) was a favorite in my family. Maybe you will chuckle at my Dad’s silly reading the book, leaving off the first name, “Christopher” so it became “Robin.” For years, my little brothers and I thought the child with the page boy haircut wearing adress-like cloak was a Girl!! My Dad read “she” and “her” throughout the chapters. 🙂

  5. Former US President FDR said that the “only thing to fear is fear itself.” That might be easier said than done. Alone on a walk in the woods and startled by some sudden nearby movement often gives me pause and a sudden fear of the unknown. I still have a healthy fear of snakes and spiders. The wild stallions in Sweden must indeed be majestic. Lovely post today.

    1. Mary Ann, I knew those words but never who spoke them – thank you for my lesson of today! I’m with you on walking out in the woods and becoming fearful…that can be spooky. I still have the Swedish troll stories in my mind from childhood and out there amongst the giant tree trunks, the shadows, odd sounds I’m not surprised they were written, so very real. Keep safe on your outings, my friend 😀

      1. Annika, it’s true about fairy tales and childhood stories of spooks, ghosts, trolls, etc. They were scary for young children. Why were they read to us? To discuss and help overcome fears? I think I would love to stroll in the Swedish woods with you sometime. New adventures and food for stories! Have a great weekend upcoming. Do Swedish children put a shoe outside the door the night of Dec. 5 when Nikolaus arrives in the wee hours of Dec. 6 to fill them with fruit and candies? We did that in Germany.

        1. Celebrating St. Nikolaus seems to be more in Central Europe. In Sweden we have Lucia on the 13th December, a beautiful tradition and then on Christmas Eve the main celebrations are held. Family gathering for special dinner and then if young children are about Father Christmas will come to the home to pass out the presents! It’s a magical time, lots of candles, presents, special food, music.

          As for the troll stories sometimes I think they were told as a warning but also just for pure fun too! Look at how popular horror films, vampire books etc are nowadays!

          1. I have heard of St. Lucia’s Day on Dec. 13. I love your Christmas customs in Sweden as well. Horror films and vampire books are not my favorite genres. But they are something for everyone. Thanks for the lovely comment and information. Enjoy the weekend.

  6. JoHanna Massey

    Talk about a just excellent photo essay for the times we are now in. It is a time when we really need to hear encouragement and renew of belief in the good. Thank you for being one of those voices. 🎄

    1. Johanna, wow, thank you so much for fantastic comment. 😀 I’m very touched by your words – I really hope that I can make a small difference with these words, spreading a positive message and who knows, maybe the ripple effect will work. Also I’ve never thought of this as a photo essay – I’m now beaming away!

  7. Ahh… A A Milne and Nelson Mandela. And your beautiful narrative and photograph of one of God’s magnificent creatures. I can’t tell you how much I needed to read your wonderfully inspiring post today dear Annika. Just Milne’s quote alone fills me with strength, and then your rmessage and then the incomparable words of Mandela. I never fail to be moved by them, and as with you, those first two lines grab me with force every time I read them. Your post will stay with me for a long time…thank you so much… ❤ xxx

    1. Sherri, now I am in tears reading your wonderful comment…I have found that as with writing, the best ‘reward’ is for my posts to touch someone, giving them joy, comfort, thoughts for a day or know that this has moved you and will live with you a while is wonderful. Even as I writing up the post I couldn’t help but smile at how the varied nature of the lives of the two people I’ve quoted. Our existence here on this planet is truly universal. Hugs ❤️

  8. Thank you for posting this speech Annika! First of all, it gave me chills to read. Secondly, I’ve heard bits and pieces attributed to other people. I had no idea he spoke each and every word.

    1. I often find that as well, Kathy – that I will have heard parts of quotes and never known the full speech or even who has said the words. Great when it all comes together. I find every time I reread Mandela’s words something new catches my eye. Thank you so much for your comment, Kathy!😀

    1. Jo, I can sense your wonderful enthusiasm for the Mandela quote and you have me cheering too! It did cross my mind what the world would be like if everyone would heed the words…oh well, wishful wistful thoughts! Still we and so many can take them to heart and make a difference! 😀😀

  9. Nelson Mandela–and AA Milne’s Winnie the Pooh–were awfully wise. Me, with fear, I give up trying to beat it. It’s too pervasive. Security seems a dream not oft answered. Instead, I try to face it down. I’m not sure man was intended to live with a sense of security and safety.

    1. Jacuqi, both such wise people and I liked the fact that they were diametrically opposed to each other where they came from, how they lived, their experiences. The human condition is truly a universal experience! I agree, in many ways the challenges are what makes a person – one can but hope they are not too much nor too dangerousl.

    1. David, your sobering words portray the ultimate in fearlessness…many of us do not know if we have that courage until the final test. Thank you so for your comment, stopped me in my tracks to think, ponder, reflect. 😀

  10. Aptly timed post Annika. Mandela’s quote holds much truth, and very powerful. This is a good time in the world to be reminded that we are braver than we all know. 🙂

    1. This is exactly the main message I wanted to shine through this post, Debby: that we are braver than we know! Both in personal life and out there in the wider world and when faced with problems this is a mantra I repeat to myself and others.

  11. Annika, I love the quotes but it is the second one that brings a tear to my eyes. Many years ago a friend of mine gave me a copy of Nelson Mandela’s’ speech and I never forgot it and after all these years I still have it and read it from time to time especially the first two lines…”Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Thank you so much for the reminder…jc

    1. Those two lines are quite something, I agree…at first it is rather mind-boggling and you want to argue against the statement but quickly the truth of it is strongly felt. I’m so glad you liked the post, JC and great that it has meant so much to you. Re-reading it for this post I’m also taken with these lines: ‘And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.’ I love the thought of this strength and light spreading out and across from us all!

    1. Thank you so much, Lorraine and that is exactly what I had done with the Mandela quote – had it hanging on my wall for years! I’m glad you liked the way the post was presented, it took me a while to find the right photograph! (But it’s always fun searching!)

  12. Khaya Ronkainen

    I especially like these lines “Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.” Excellent post and an important reminder from both Milne’s and Madiba’s quotes. Thank you!

    1. Khaya, I know, don’t those words just make you stand tall, take your place in this world and be proud of yourself! Thank you so much for your comment, always a joy to read and so happy you enjoyed it and the quote reminders.

  13. This is so inspiring, Annika. It certainly does seem that fear is overpowering many other emotions in today’s world. It’s self-perpetuating and requires conscious effort to tear away it’s illusion. Both Milne and Mandela are masters at empowering feelings of kindness and hope. Thanks for morning smile 🙂

    1. Ahh…I’m now smiling that you are smiling, Diana! 😀😀 Writing posts and sharing is such a privelege but to know that the words touch others is the supreme reward. You have wonderful insight to the world of fear and yes, conscious effort is required and at times when things seem insurmountable the it is only with great concentration that the fear can be conquered. Reckon the world needs many masters such as these two of inspiration and empowerment!

    1. Thank you, Lynz! 😀 The first time I came across the Mandela quote I did print it out and had it on my wall for a long time. It’s good to come across the reminder in a daily basis and it did give me a boost each time and I would push myself a bit further past my fears. Hope it helps you too. 😀

    1. Thank you so much, Julie. 😀 It’s odd how a post comes together sometimes. A subject I’ve been thinking about for a long time, then came across the A.A. Milne quote, recalled the Mandela speech. It was then a matter of a photograph and going through the ones form my last trip to Sweden I saw this one which really captivated me…I stood for ages looking up at the horse and he was unmoving, unflinching until I ceded first. Yep, incredible strength and grace. Going past a fear changes you each time, until those fears hopefully fade…alas often to be replaced by new ones.

    1. Jill, that is a terrific saying – I can see me using this phrase on a regular basis and one I won’t forget. 😀😀 Do it afraid. Thank you for that and so glad you liked the post. A. A. Milne’s books are classics as far as I’m concerned and large chunks are easily quotable.

  14. Doubt, now that’s a biggie, and one that affects all of us. Being brave enough to take that first step, especially when courage is called for, can certainly cause anyone to hesitate. And yet, everyone has it in them to stand up and make a difference when they give themselves a chance. We’re all pretty much capable of doing amazing things, it just takes something to motivate us to action. Although, everyone is afraid of something, when we feel strong enough about something that matters to us—with enough passion to drive us—it’s truly amazing how people are able to charge right in, in spite of being scared.

    1. Reading your comment I started to think about this literally and how well it works as an analogy. Taking that first step – for a child all comes at various stages. Some very young, fearless and with passion, so excited and passionate about exploring the world. Others well over a year, probably able to walk, but cautious, wary, scared…but in the end we all get there. What counts, as you say is that we care enough about overcoming the fear and passionately enough in something to make the effort. Thank you so much for your considered comment, it really has me thinking.

  15. delphini510

    Thank you Annika, I am deeply touched and enriched by your strong and deep post this morning. What is there to say except humbly but joyfully work on these big truths.
    Both quotes are like huge torches in the world.
    Happy Furst if Advent to you

    1. Mirja, your poet nature shines forth again and I do like your phrase ‘like torches in the world’. Oh, I do hope that is true of this message and so many like it…ripples in a pond and all that! Very big truths indeed and ones I’ve been mulling over for a while. To be able to reach people through my writing, quotes and photos is a blessing indeed. Thank you so much for you warm kind comment. 😀

  16. No wonder he was such an inspiring man with a speech like that. What an amazing leader he was. And what a beautifully written post Annika on something that touches us all.

    1. Mandela was one of the greats and everytime he spoke it was well worth paying attention but he excelled even himself here with this speech. Miriam, yout are right that fear is touches us all during our lives, days, months, years and often dictates the decisions we make…it has just taken move a while to work out what and how I wanted to express my feelings.

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