Loyalty is a desirable core value, but I think, that sometimes it is misunderstood. I’d wish to distinguish between two types of loyalty – authentic and inauthentic.
Authentic loyalty is the stance one thinks of when we talk about loyalty – the steadfast quality of sticking with a person, group or organisation, that comes from a deep feeling of caring and belonging.
Inauthentic loyalty looks on the surface the same – grin and bear, stick through good and bad times, . Under the surface, it can however harbor resentment, contempt and even anger.
If you consider loyalty as your core value, it is worth investigating what is its ultimate source.
The near enemy of loyalty is complacency
Buddhism has an interesting concepts of “near enemies”. These are undesirable emotions that can be confused with noble ones. For example, compassion is a desirable emotion and its near enemy is pity (because pity is is divise at its core).
I’d suggest that near enemy is of loyalty is compacency.
What on looks like steadfast loyalty, can under the surface be complacency based on fear, lazyness or other source of resistance to change. This “poisons” the relation and causes slow, silent damage to both sides (individuals, groups, organisations).
Can inauthentic loyalty turn into authentic?
Sometimes “fake-it till you make-it” does indeed work. My suspicion is that inauthentic loyalty can indeed sometime turn into the deep, authentic stance. However, I expect this is rare in personal relationships and pretty much non-existent towards organisations and business.
Resentment and contempt are particularly hard emotions to deal with and time tends to deepen them rather than heal.
So if the way “through” is unlikely, what other possibility can we have?
Escaping the trap of inauthentic loyalty
As with any “near enemy”, inauthentic loyalty can only be recognized with patient, self-compassionate, introspective mindfulness. The recognition is often not a singular moment a breakthrough, but a slow dawning, possibly painful and with backtracks.
Ultimately moving beyond inauthentic loyalty brings liberation and eventually growth, but it is not an easy process.