What is a Counterfeit Emotion?

Sep 06, 2023

Unmasking the Deceptive Emotions that Create Destructive Cycles of Disconnection in Our Lives

Connection is why we’re here; it gives purpose and meaning to our lives.

~ Brene Brown


Counterfeit Emotions are emotions that look, act, and feel like an authentic emotion but create patterns of disconnection in our lives. These sneaky counterfeits mimic every Authentic Emotion, except for one -- Peace. Peace is the only emotion without a counterfeit. It is the only emotion that can't be counterfeited. Staying in authenticity is key to finding peace.

In order to live our most authentic lives it's critical to understand the difference between these close cousins. Every day we experience a wide array of feelings. We are emotional beings and can't escape these feelings... and we were never meant to. These emotions range from joy and love to pain and sadness. These emotions are an integral part of the human experience. They help us navigate life's twists and turns. 

However, not all emotions serve us. Accepting the counterfeits hurt us. They damage our souls, often without us even knowing it. In the same way a counterfeit $100 bill hurts a business, counterfeit emotions rob us from the the peace and joy we can experience in this life.

Understanding Counterfeit and Authentic Emotions

Counterfeit emotions wear a mask of authenticity, making it challenging to distinguish from the authentic. The reason these masqueraders are so dangerous is because they are so hard to spot. They mimic the original emotion so closely they often blend in without us knowing.

It is easy to identify an opposite emotion like Love vs. Hate. Counterfeits are not opposites. Instead of Hate, the counterfeit for Love is Lust. Opposite emotions live on antithetical ends of the spectrum. Each of these counterfeits, on the other hand, slide right up next to the original emotion sharing a close proximity. These are the emotions we need to direct a new focus toward or else they will go unnoticed. In today's world, anxiety, depression, and suicide are at the highest levels ever recorded. Understanding the Authentic-Counterfeit dyads and the negative effects in our lives can break us free from these trapping sentiments. They often masquerade as genuine feelings but create destructive patterns of disconnection in our lives. These are the spies and saboteurs within our emotional ranks trying to hijack your psyche.

To fully recognize counterfeit emotions, it's crucial to understand these four criteria :

  1. Connection: Authentic emotions connect us to ourselves, others, God, and the truth. Take a look at Guilt vs. Shame. Guilt connects us to ourselves, God, and truth. You cannot say you're sorry without first connecting to another. Opposingly, shame and all other counterfeit emotions, disconnect us from each of these four areas, creating separation in our relationships, including the relationship with our divine selves, God, others and truth.
  2. Direction: Authentic emotions move us in three ways. They lead us forward, upward, and bring us together. Counterfeit emotions have a singular direction - they spin back onto themselves, creating a never-ending cycle of negativity. The counterfeits need more of themselves to survive. Let's take Pain(authentic) and Misery(counterfeit) for example. The common saying with Pain is, "No Pain, No Gain!" Why? Because pain moves us. Pain demands action. Misery, on the other hand, needs more misery to exist. The common saying for this saboteur is, " Misery loves company." It requires more misery to fuel the victimhood fire. Without added misery it will naturally die. Counterfeit emotions only have one direction - back to themselves. There must be a continual feeding for misery to sustain its existence. Otherwise it will merely fade away. The counterfeits are a circular trap, an insidious whirlpool dragging us down and around and around.
  3. Motivation: Authentic emotions are based in Love and Surrender. Counterfeits are based in Fear and Control. Love and Surrender and Fear and Control are Meta-emotions which run through the other authentic and counterfeit emotions. When our motives are pure we can feel our soul expand. We can tap into the love and joy that exists all around us. When it is fearful and controlling it feels constricting and burdensome. This is an easy way to tell if you are living authentically or in the counterfeit, ask yourself, "Am I feeling fear?" Most of us are well acquainted with the heavy, anxious, constricting, shallow breathing feeling of fear. Let this be an alarm bell in the control in your brain to signal an incoming counterfeit.
  4. Valuation: Authentic emotions value us and others as divine. Counterfeit state loudly we are worthless and worth less. Counterfeits live in comparison, the thief of joy. Authentic emotions create an abundance mentality and eliminates comparison because we each share infinite divinity. Counterfeits contrast our value with others saying, "You're not as good as…." These emotions degrade our perceptions of our eternal nature, causing us to devalue what's essential and meaningful.

The Sneaky Nature of Counterfeit Emotions

One of the hardest aspects of counterfeit emotions is their sneaky nature. These are the emotions that put on the mask of the original emotion. They dress up like the authentic in an attempt to deceive us into thinking the counterfeit is actually a virtue. Let's take Love vs Lust for example. You can put your lips to someone else's lips in the spirit of connection (criteria #1 - Connection), unity & togetherness(#2 Direction), without expectation (#3 Motivation of surrender) and seeing someone's divinity (#4 Valuation) or you can do that exact same action of pressing your lips to their's in the spirit of taking, objectifying, dehumanizing, and self gratification. Lust is so sneaky because it uses the actions of love to wiggle its way into our lives.

These counterfeit emotions often rely on proximity to the genuine feelings to go unnoticed. It's like having a wolf in sheep's clothing, where the disguise is so convincing you may not realize the true nature of the emotion until it's too late.

Types of Counterfeit Emotions: 

We have identified 36 different authentic and counterfeit emotional dyads.  Here are a few.   

  • Kind vs. Nice
  • Love vs. Lust
  • Pain vs. Misery
  • Joy vs. Pleasure
  • Power vs. Control
  • Serving vs. Saving
  • Determination vs. Stubborness
  • Accomplishment vs. Pride
  • Guilt vs. Shame
  • Hope vs. Expectation
  • +26 more

To better understand the concept of counterfeit and authentic emotions, let's explore a familiar scenario - the difference between being "nice" and being "kind." These two terms may appear interchangeable on the surface, but a closer look reveals a stark contrast.

Nice - The Counterfeit Emotion

Niceness, often perceived as a virtue, becomes the counterfeit form of kindness when it's driven by ulterior motives especially fear of conflict. In the pursuit of being perceived as the "Nice Guy or Girl" , they may suppress their true feelings, opinions, and needs. Nice is not honest because nice will never express true feelings in fear of confrontation.

While niceness is typically seen as a positive trait, it turns out that nice is actually not very nice at all. It is the counterfeit of Kind. Being "nice" comes from a lack of boundaries and is used as a defense mechanism. It leads to individuals prioritizing avoidance of discomfort over genuine connection. A lack of authenticity, diminished respect, and difficulty in saying no are other side effects of being nice. Being the "Nice Guy" creates a cycle of being walked on and being a doormat. It doesn't speak clearly or directly and will never rock the boat. Because it will never rock the boat, it will also never row the boat. You can't row(progress) without rocking. Nice is a trap. It keeps you stuck.

Consider a scenario where someone constantly agrees with others, never sharing their honest perspective. They engage in people-pleasing behaviors, always saying yes, even when they really want to say "no." While this may seem like an act of kindness, it's a counterfeit emotion at play. It disconnects individuals from their true feelings and others, hinders personal growth, and leads to unfulfilling relationships. Nice skims across the water of relationships with a great big smile. Kind dives deep beneath the surface.

Kind - The Authentic Emotion

Kindness comes from a place of authenticity and empathy. Being kind means expressing oneself genuinely and directly in a spirit of love. Kindness always starts with self. You can only be as kind to someone else as you are to yourself. Kindness to self begins with setting healthy boundaries. Healthy boundaries create safety for both the person holding the boundary and the person they are interacting with.

Nice leans out. Kind leans in. Kindness connects us as humans. Kindness fosters trust, respect, and understanding. Kindness says, "I'm not scared of your feelings. In fact, I'm even willing to sit with you in your pain." Nice tries to pretend everything is ok and smooth over the issues, even when they're not ok.

When someone is kind, they can provide direct feedback, express their opinions, and set boundaries without sacrificing their authenticity or the relationship. Kindness encourages personal growth and strengthens relationships by promoting open and honest communication. Kind sees the divinity in others and communicates in honesty. It invites others into a place of safety, growth, abundance, and peace…even when it may be difficult.

How Can You be Your most Authentic Self?

Create authenticity in your life by evaluating the four criteria with every emotion you feel.
Ask yourself,

  1. "Does this connect me?"
  2. "In what direction is this emotion taking me?"
  3. "Is my motivation love and surrender or fear and control?"
  4. "Does this emotion value me and others with divine worth?"

These four criteria are instant tools to know if we are living our most authentic lives or living in the counterfeit. When we can see these, we can change our behavior, make conscious choices about how we interact with others, and express our emotions genuinely.

I invite you to spend time practicing the criteria with emotion you feel and then learn the models of how to go from the counterfeit into the authentic.


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"Nice Type"

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