To be loyal, according to Merriam-Webster, is to have unswerving allegiance. Synonyms include constant, dedicated, staunch, steadfast, true. Antonyms include disloyal, faithless, false, fickle, inconstant, perfidious, recreant, traitorous, treacherous, unfaithful, untrue. Certainly none of us set out to be any of the words in that latter list.
As a Virgo, I prize loyalty as one of the highest attributes. To have a loyal friend is truly one of the great blessings in life. Euripides said, “One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives.” Yet, finding loyal friends, family, and spouses is not a given. So what gives?
Loyalty begins as a deep form of friendship. It is unconditional and not based on a quid pro quo (something for something) social contract. In order to obtain this level of friendship there has to be a deep trust, developed over time wherein both people have divulged intimate details of their lives and found their friend valued their thoughts and feelings and did not leverage them or judge. Loyalty offers unconditional support within the framework of honesty. Loyal friends are not ‘yes’ people. In fact, a loyal friend offers an impartial view and levity when they feel its needed.
Above all, even if a loyal friend offers an opposing view, enforces a boundary of the friendship or disagrees, all of this she does with kindness and goodwill. In fact, kindness is the foundation of everything.
“Many a friendship, long, loyal, and self-sacrificing, rested at first on no thicker a foundation than a kind word.” -Frederick William Faber
So how do we lose people’s loyalty? Betrayal is a deep, and cutting emotion, so painful and so profound that it can shake us to our core. Often, if it comes to light that someone has spoken badly about you, or taken action at odds with your needs, they were likely only pretending to be loyal. However, rather than write someone off based on hearsay, if you are a true friend you will ask them about the situation and as many times as not, it will be a miscommunication or sadly, someone planting evil seeds in order to sew distrust.
How do you know who your true friends are? You don’t, at least not at first. But a good indication of a loyal friend is one who shows up with consistency, time and time again. But even your adversaries have an important place in your process.
“Your friends will believe in your potential, your enemies will make you live up to it.”― Tim Fargo
Remember that loyalty works both ways. Make sure you create a safe place for your friend and an atmosphere where they feel secure to speak honestly. All of our relationships need to be given energy. The best course of action is to treat every friend as if they are a loyal friend. Now, obviously, if you think they might not have your best interests at heart, you may want to temper the information that you divulge. But it should not hamper the kindness that you show them.
Never let someone else’s betrayal dampen your kindness. When we’ve been hurt we tend to withdraw. The next time we make a friend we can be suspicious of that friendship, as if waiting for them to behave in the same way. Don’t hide your kindness. You can’t be anything if you aren’t kind. You can’t be a true friend, a good parent, loving or even spiritual without kindness.
Last year I made a birthday wish and this year I make the same wish. That wish is for everyone to have a year where we set aside our judgment and show true kindness to each other, that we give the people in our lives the benefit of the doubt, and that we treat each other with respect and human dignity rather than using others as a means to our own end.
To truly transform and draw all the blessings you would ever want, focus on kindness. Make kindness the purpose of your life. Even if it isn’t the best time, even if it means giving more than you are comfortable giving, even if that person doesn’t necessarily merit your kindness at the moment (as you see it) – be kind. We pass up hundreds of opportunities for kindness every day. We have opportunities for kindness everywhere we look.
Thought Into Action
Be mindful of opportunities for kindness today. Don’t turn from chances to help and monitor your reaction to the people in your life.