5 Principles for Jumpstarting Authenticity

5 Principles for Jumpstarting Authenticity

by Curtis Morley

The word “Authentic” was crowned the Merriam Webster’s Word-of-the-Year because there were so many searches to understand what true authenticity is. We all are yearning for authenticity in others and in ourselves. The definition of “Authentic” is: being true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character and ‘not false,’ imitation, or counterfeit.”

In order to get to our authentic selves we need to explore how our emotions can either be authentic or counterfeit. Let’s look at both sides of the definition. The first is knowing ourselves and acting in integrity. The second is to understand what’s “not false” or counterfeit. Every authentic emotion has a counterfeit…except for one – peace. For example: lust is the counterfeit of love, fitting-in is the counterfeit for belonging, resignation is the counterfeit for surrender, and nice is the counterfeit of kind. There are many other Authentic-Counterfeit dyads to explore. In this article we will highlight three – Pain vs. Misery, Guilt vs. Shame, and Kind vs. Nice.

How can we know when something is true and when something is counterfeit? Here are the 5 principles to Jumpstart your authenticity.

1. Recognition – Recognize what’s authentic and what’s counterfeit. Identify your values and standards and stay true to them. Identify the authentic emotions that serve you and understand how to identify their counterfeits. The definition of a counterfeit emotion is, “An emotion that looks, acts, and feels like an authentic emotion but creates a destructive pattern of disconnection in your life.” Authentic emotions will lead you to your highest self. Counterfeit emotions will lead you to isolation, shame, blame, and misery. There are four criteria to identify whether an emotion is authentic or counterfeit: Connection, Direction, Motivation, and Valuation.

2. Connection – Authentic emotions connect us to true selves, others, God and the truth. Counterfeit emotions disconnect from these four things. Pain (an authentic emotion) is a very connecting emotion. If you cut your finger you are intimately connected to yourself. Pain is the basis for empathy. We can’t consul another by saying I know how you feel if we have never felt the pain they are feeling. Misery (pains insidious counterfeit) is based in shame and blame, two of the most disconnecting emotions we can feel.

3. Direction – Authentic emotions have three directions – upward. forward, and together. Counterfeit emotions only have one – the circle. Counterfeits are circular, leading back to themselves. Think of the common saying about Pain. “No Pain, no gain.” Pain takes you to gain. Now think about the saying about misery. “Misery loves company.” Why? Because misery must have more misery in order to survive. Without blame and shame misery dies.

4. Motivation – Authentic emotions are motivated by love and surrender. Counterfeit emotions are motivated by fear and control. The kind person acts in love and surrenders the consequences. Loving enough to say hard things and have hard conversations. Another name for the “Nice Guy” is The Victim. He or she puts on a smile and grins in front of you and then feels like they were taken advantage of because they don’t know how to advocate for themselves. The victim cannot be authentic. Kind on the other hand is a victor, not a victim. Kind is willing to authentically rock the proverbial boat – in love.

5. Valuation – Authentic emotions value us and others as having divine worth. Counterfeit emotions value us as worthless. They also say I’m worth less than everyone else. Counterfeits are comparative. Guilt is a great example of how authentic emotions value us highly. The etymology of the word comes from an old English word “gieldan” which means to repay or make whole. Guilt is the emotion of making someone whole. We value another enough we want to make them whole. I can ask for forgiveness from someone I value because I see their worth. Guilt says I did something bad. Shame says I am bad. Guilt says I made a mistake. Shame says my existence is a mistake. Guilt says my actions caused someone pain. Shame says my nature causes others pain.

Through recognition of the connection, direction, motivation, and valuation of our feelings, we can identify and rid the counterfeits from our lives and become our most authentic selves.


Curtis Morley is a 5x entrepreneur, Wall Street Journal bestselling author, founder of Counterfeit Emotions and co-founder of the Safe2Feel Conference, as well as CEO and founder of Entrepreneur’s Paradox. He is also a thought leader and avid business coach helping entrepreneurs achieve next-level growth. Formerly served as Director of the Kahlert Initiative on Technology at the University of Utah, Chief Growth Officer of eLearning Brothers, and Corporate and Global Marketing for Franklin Covey. He is a patent holder, innovator, businessman, and coach. He is from Alpine Utah. Website: CounterfeitEmotions.com