loyalty

Can Loyalty be a Bad Thing?

First, let’s look at the definition of the word loyalty (noun): the quality or state of being loyal. Loyal, the root of loyalty, means the quality of being unswerving in allegiance to a country, person, or cause.

On the surface, loyalty looks like a good thing, right? Maybe. I know for a fact that loyalty to my husband caused me to gain 55 pounds and lose my health for three years. When he experienced a catastrophic cancer diagnosis, I unswervingly fought for his cause with doctors, insurance companies, hospital staff, and even his own hopelessness.

During his 11-month fight, I stopped taking care of myself. I ate whatever I could, whenever I had time to eat. My exercise regime went out the window. Instead of my normal daily devotions, I only shot prayers heavenward when all seemed hopeless.

Of course, I had limited options. I had promised when we married to stay loyal through sickness and through health. Loyalty is a good thing. It gets us through rough times.

Blind Loyalty Leads to Negative Consequences

Can a person be too loyal? What happens when have blind loyalty? Do a self-inventory to figure out how your loyalties affect your life. #loyalty, #selfcareBut it can also turn into a bad thing when it consumes our time, energies, emotions, and affections. Unfortunately, I stopped investing time and attention in our daughters while fighting cancer with Pedro. It took a few years to regain my former relationships with the girls. Sadly, it took almost a decade for them to recover from the trauma of Pedro’s illness.

I know a couple that remains devoutly loyal to each other. Despite the fact that his undiagnosed and untreated mental illness has caused them both to lose jobs, estrange them from friends and family, and made their children miserable. She knows in her heart that he needs help, but her loyalty to him prevents her from insisting that he seek treatment.

In this case, loyalty is a bad thing. Loving a person with an untreated mental illness can wear a person down to the point of breaking. Self-care gets tossed out the window. And when we stop taking care of ourselves, we lose perspective on life and our selfhood.

Remember that stepping away from a misguided sense of loyalty does not make you disloyal—it makes you wise. We show more loyalty to the ones we love when we actually effect positive changes in their lives. We also show loyalty to our selves, too. That makes it a win-win situation.

Inventory How Your Loyalty Works for You

Take an inventory of your life today. Divide a piece of paper into three columns. Write Loyalty, Pros, Cons, and Action at the top of each column.

In the first column, make an honest list of all that you have pledged loyalty to—whether formally or informally. People, work, church commitments, ideas, pets, habits, mindsets, and hobbies (or anything else you can think of).

Now evaluate each item and determine how that loyalty works for you. Does it bring you joy, contentment, and growth? Or does it wear you out, make you sad, angry, frustrated, or hopeless? Does it enhance or detract from your primary loyalties? In what ways does it prevent you from taking care of yourself?

The next part—evaluating what action you should take—works best with prayer and time to reflect. But don’t leave this step out! Honest, prayerful reflection will help you understand if you’ve fallen victim to blind loyalty.

You’ll find it easy to take some of the actions—quitting your Candy Crush addiction, for example. Some actions will require deeper thought and prayer. You may even want to start counseling if you discover that you have fallen into a destructive habit (to a person or thing) out of a sense of blind loyalty.

Whatever you do, don’t let blind loyalty rob you of your basic human need for self-care. Trust me. The results aren’t pretty.

Whatever you do, don't let blind loyalty rob you of your basic human need for self-care. #selfcare #loyalty Click To Tweet

11 Comments

  1. This is good advice! Loyalty is a good thing, but there are definitely times when it can be unhealthy. Finding the balance and taking care of ourselves too is important.

    1. All too often, people long to set boundaries, but they have a misguided idea that that would be disloyal. We need healthy boundaries in order to stay loyal to ourselves and sometimes to help those we love.

  2. Thank you for such a clear article! I think this is a hard road to navigate because we want to be loving and not selfish. Your article clearly articulates a path that shows love to others and self!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Tatyana! Yes, it’s difficult at times, isn’t it? But we have the Holy Spirit to help us discern how to be loyal in the right way :).

  3. “Remember that stepping away from a misguided sense of loyalty does not make you disloyal—it makes you wise. We show more loyalty to the ones we love when we actually effect positive changes in their lives. We also show loyalty to our selves, too. That makes it a win-win situation.”

    I needed to read this today. I often have blond loyalty with thinking how that’s going to affect me in the long run. I want to be kind to others, but I’ve noticed stepping away doesn’t mean I’m a bad person for needing people that build me up and things that bring me joy. And stepping away is also good to recharge and come back to the good things/people.

    Thanks for sharing this. We’re neighbors on fmf. ☺️

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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