Since at least 2018, Facebook and Twitter users have shared a misattributed quote with movie actor Morgan Freeman‘s name under it: “Self-control is strength. Calmness is mastery. You have to get to the point where your mood doesn’t shift based on the insignificant actions of someone else. Don’t allow others to control the direction of your life. Don’t allow your emotions to overpower your intelligence.”
The “self-control is strength” quote with Freeman‘s face has been posted several times on the Anxiety Freedom Today Facebook page, each time receiving many thousands of shares. Most of the comments read, “So true!” In the past, we’ve found that a bunch of “So true!” comments can be a red flag that the post might be at least somewhat misleading:
While it’s possible that Freeman might agree with various aspects of the sentiment of the quote, there’s no evidence that he ever said these words.
In 2019, the See the Butterfly blog correctly pointed out that the first part of the quote originally came not from Freeman, but from author James Allen‘s 1903 book, “As a Man Thinketh.” Project Gutenberg published the original quote in context. See the bolded words below:
CALMNESS of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. It is the result of long and patient effort in self-control. Its presence is an indication of ripened experience, and of a more than ordinary knowledge of the laws and operations of thought.
Yes, humanity surges with uncontrolled passion, is tumultuous with ungoverned grief, is blown about by anxiety and doubt only the wise man, only he whose thoughts are controlled and purified, makes the winds and the storms of the soul obey him.
Tempest-tossed souls, wherever ye may be, under whatsoever conditions ye may live, know this in the ocean of life the isles of Blessedness are smiling, and the sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming. Keep your hand firmly upon the helm of thought. In the bark of your soul reclines the commanding Master; He does but sleep: wake Him. Self-control is strength; Right Thought is mastery; Calmness is power. Say unto your heart, “Peace, be still!”
In sum, the “self-control is strength” quote originally came from Allen, not Freeman.
April. “There Is so Much More Going on Here…” See the Butterfly, 16 Feb. 2019, https://www.seethebutterfly.com/2019/02/16/there-is-so-much-more-going-on-here/.
The Project Gutenberg E-Text of As a Man Thinketh, by James Allen. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/4507/4507-h/4507-h.htm.