Charlie Chaplin Self Love Poem and the Subtle Art of Myth Busting

Charlie Chaplin Self Love Poem

There are rafts of articles and posts online about Charlie Chaplin being the author of the poem, When I loved Myself Enough (also titled ‘As I began to love myself’). This ‘Charlie Chaplin Self Love Poem‘ has become a point of reference for anything to do with self-love; except that the version that is most often circulated is not the original version, and Charlie Chaplin is not the one who wrote it.

Charlie Chaplin Self Love Poem

In 2017, when I was researching my book, I wrote to Charlie Chaplin’s Office in order to request permission to reproduce the Charlie Chaplin Self Love poem. Chaplin’s Office Manager kindly responded as follows:

‘Dear Joanne,

There is a text circulating in many different languages called ‘When I loved myself enough’ supposedly written by Charlie Chaplin. The Chaplin office receives many enquiries about this text every year requesting permission to publish them. This text was NOT WRITTEN BY Charlie Chaplin. ‘When I love myself enough’ comes from a book called ‘When I Love Myself Enough’ by Kim and Alison McMillen.

Kind Regards’

Surprised, I looked into this a little deeper.

Original Authors of ‘When I Loved Myself Enough’

Kim McMillen wrote the book and the poem ‘When I Loved Myself Enough’ in 1996, shortly before she died aged only 52. Her daughter, Allison McMillen, described the book as ‘everything she believed in, and everything she brought me up to believe in. it is her autobiography, her declaration, her soul.’ Allison continued writing the book and first published it in 2001 she handed out copies to friends and word of mouth turned this into an underground bestseller in the USA.

“When I loved Myself Enough” by Kim and Alison McMillen

The book was translated into numerous languages and the most shared version seems to be an English translation of a Portuguese translation. It is unclear who arranged these stanzas into their current form.

The reason I was interested in this poem is because I included it my book. The poem is a masterpiece, I was also interested because of the personal and literary relationship between Kim and Allison McMillen and my own daughter and I. Below, I have included some extracts of the original and translated versions of the poems below:

Original Version

When I loved myself enough, I quit settling for too little.
When I loved myself enough, I came to know my own goodness.
When I loved myself enough, I began taking the gift of life seriously and gratefully.
When I loved myself enough, I began to know I was in the right place at the right time and I could relax.
When I loved myself enough, I felt compelled to slow down way down. And that has made all the difference.

Translated Version

As I began to love myself, I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know this as Authenticity.”

It also comes from respecting yourself: “As I began to love myself, I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today, I call it Respect.”

From love of oneself: “As I began to love myself, I freed myself of anything that was not good. For my health – food, people, things, situations. And everything that drew me down away from myself. At first, I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it as Love for Oneself.

How do Myths Form?

How do myths form? How did ‘When I loved myself enough’ become the Charlie Chaplin Self Love Poem?

A myth is defined as a popular belief that has grown-up around something or someone. We encounter those myths, popular beliefs or misleading claims and statements every day in the form of constant and repeated advertisements, political propaganda from all sides and petty rumors from people all around us. Some of those popular beliefs are benign and do not have a huge impact on us but others may be more impactful.

The Illusory Truth Effect. Fact or Fake?

In psychology, the scientific term for this is the ‘illusory Truth effect’ also known as the ‘reiteration effect’, it is the tendency to believe information to be correct (even if it is not) after repeated exposure to that same information. Repeated affirmation fixes itself in the mind in such a way that it is accepted in the end as a demonstrated truth. Many studies have been conducted on this, and the conclusion is that familiarity overcome rationality, the truth does not matter. Repetition does! Adolf Hitler knew about the technique. ‘Slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea,’ he wrote in Mein Kampf.

For Charlie Chaplin, it’s not entirely clear when his name was first attached to the text, but it appears to have been sometime around 2007, about 30 years after the actor’s death. There are now nearly 2 million search results if you type ‘Charlie Chaplin love poem’ into Google, there’s repetition for you!

Other myths may include:


As with any cognitive bias, the best way not to fall prey is to know it exists. Once we know how myths propagate, we can guard against them – myth buster style! Part of the checking is asking ourselves why we believe what we do – if something sounds plausible is it because it really is true, or have we just been told that repeatedly?

But if there is a myth I’d like you to start, it’s ‘this is the best blog you’ve ever read!’ Repeat, share, repeat, share…

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to guard yourself against illusion and not to repeat falsehoods!

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