19 November 2010 10 Comments

Betrayal as a Journey of Transformation, Part 1: Genuine Loyalty

The purpose of this post series is to learn how to become loyal to yourself—the cornerstone of a positive life. Like the mythic journeys of heros, the prize of genuine loyalty is won by journeying into your inner underworld and returning with the self-awareness to carry real virtue into daily life.

P1010618Genuine Loyalty is the first post of a detailed exploration of betrayal. Betrayal is one of the most intense of common human experiences. This makes it useful as a vehicle for transformation. Whether or not you encounter betrayal, the observations, principles, and exercises in this series will stimulate insight and Inner Work. We will approach betrayal from a number of different angles. The last post is a series of practical tips for managing life when you feel shattered.

Let’s begin with loyalty—the end of a successful journey for those who use betrayal to transform rather than wasting suffering or going numb:

Loyalty can bring peace and joy to life by sustaining close relationships and expressing personal honor.

What is loyalty? Let’s make a distinction between loyalty as a rigid practice, based on an external sense of honor, and loyalty based on authentic feeling.

Basing loyalty on externals means you behave in ways that fit with the requirements of your contracts. You do what you think is right– based on how others will interpret your actions. Following rigid codes of behavior based on external approval feels binding. It can lead you to suppress the thoughts and feelings that conflict with these codes. You may feel bound by this sort of loyalty even as you choose to maintain it. When internal feelings and external rules collide you may feel tense and restricted.

Authentic loyalty is less about doing what it takes to protect or maintain your investment in a relationship and more about honoring the loving connection you feel inside–to yourself as well as toward someone you respect. This expression of loyalty is not about the letter of a law or contract but about extending heartfelt consideration, respecting the feelings, reputation, and integrity of someone you choose to honor. Honoring them makes you feel good, not stuck.

P1010795Loyalty based on real feeling is rooted in Sincerity. (See previous post.) It is not about attempting to be blameless in the eyes of others. Rather, it seeks to protect the hearts and peace of mind of those we are loyal to, as an act of solidarity or love. This is an expression of inner beauty, not an obligation.

Like commitment that springs from choosing and valuing solidarity with a close friend or loved one, true loyalty depends on clarity about our own needs and values. When we are able to be loyal to ourselves, we can be loyal to others.

Have you explored YOUR inner experience of loyalty? What does it feel like inside when you are committed or loyal? Can you find the part of yourself which experiences loyalty as a powerful and free choice?

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10 Responses to “Betrayal as a Journey of Transformation, Part 1: Genuine Loyalty”

  1. Leah 19 November 2010 at 8:10 am #

    Authentic loyalty is less about doing what it takes to protect or maintain your investment in a relationship and more about honoring the loving connection you feel inside–to yourself as well as toward someone you respect. This expression of loyalty is not about the letter of a law or contract but about extending heartfelt consideration, respecting the feelings, reputation, and integrity of someone you choose to honor. Honoring them makes you feel good, not stuck.
    *****************************
    This paragraph has summed up for me feelings I have never quite had the right words for. My personal loyalty is a direct gift, and not about rules or “should”s of society, it is about a true connection and being authentic. I think it is about seeing the other person, faults and joys and all, and still having, wanting that connection.

    Thanks T, as always you help clarify those nebulous feelings that are hard to put into words.

    • Teresa Dietze 19 November 2010 at 2:09 pm #

      You are, Leah, one of the most sweetly loyal people–and most authentic–that I know. Your loyalty is indeed a rare gift.

  2. Greg 19 November 2010 at 9:32 am #

    Hello,

    Loyalty, what it feels like inside, is that my heart and soul are aligned in a very powerfull union that can only be destroyed by ignoring that feeling or side tracking the vision that I hold about a feeling or idea that resonates with my true self.

    If I have a vision that I awaken to, of who I really am and do not honor that moment of experience. Than I am not being loyal to my true self. Which is how I have lived most of my life.

    Loyalty to my true self that can be hidden, under so many layers of stuff. Is a work in progress to strip away the veils that I hide behind.

    Thank you,
    Greg

    • Teresa Dietze 19 November 2010 at 2:11 pm #

      Greg this comment is so absolutely and solidly experience-based and full of feeling that I am moved to read it. A great description of Loyalty from the inside–and a useful contribution to the post!

  3. Sheryl 19 November 2010 at 8:13 pm #

    Thanks so much for this article Teresa. I’ve been recognizing when I’ve been feeling obligated rather than a loving connexion. It’s not always easy to shift into authentic loyalty but I’m ready to go there as it feels so much better.

    • Teresa Dietze 19 November 2010 at 8:20 pm #

      Sheryl thank you for your lovely and sincere comment. It means so much to me to know that these posts–which take forever to write!–can inspire introspection and action as intended. You’re right–it DOES FEEL better, and we have some choice in the way we approach relationship.

  4. Susan Powell 20 November 2010 at 5:02 pm #

    It seems to me as I ponder the wonderful content and comment to your post that Loyalty thus far in my life has been something I can and have freely given to both friends and partners but have naively waited and expected its return to me to (youch …dare I admit it) to validate my own self worth only to be disaapointed over and over again.

    I have experienced its return via the wonderful friendships in my life but never, thus far from a relationship partner…have always had betrayal themes running through relationships which brought me to study Astrology as a means to rectify the role that I at least play in the whole drama…as I accept that it is my own manifestation that repeats to teach me a valuable lesson , which I know is to be Loyal to Ones Self and not look for it outside of self….however its a work in progress. Would be interested in some feedback as to how one is supposed to be Loyal to oneself without coming from a place of being self absorbed….

    Thanks Theresa :-)

    • Teresa Dietze 20 November 2010 at 10:27 pm #

      Dear Susan,
      Thank you for your courageous participation. It serves everyone. Many of us have suffered disappointment. It is great that you have defined it for yourself and are actively exploring your feelings and beliefs.

      As for the feedback you’re requesting, my heart opens to you and I would like to say so many things. On reflection, I find that the things I would say are in the post series on Inner Work, Disillusionment, and the next five posts–the rest of Betrayal as a Journey of Transformation.

      I’ll be very interested in your comments and participation as those posts come to light. I had been thinking about writing about betrayal for several years. A recent experience of betrayal helped me to focus more clearly. I hope to reach out to persons such as yourself, who seek to integrate difficult experiences into the richness of a deep and meaningful inner life. If my reflections are useful to you I will be happy for that.
      Teresa

  5. Carl 26 June 2011 at 1:27 am #

    Recently, I have reached a new perspective on myself and my relationship to betrayal: I believe I am and perhaps always have been drawn to it. I have played both roles–betrayer and betrayed–but the one constant is the recurrence of it in my life. I’m somewhat more aware of it now but there’s still quite a bit that’s submerged–hidden–beyond my perception or understanding. I’m trying to make a feel for the bottom now to try and map the landscape of this bitter and slippery part of myself. One thing I can say is that it’s tightly interwoven with the resilient part of myself. It (or I) is (am) a survivor. This dark and scared part of myself has helped me survive but at a tremendous cost.

    I sincerely appreciate your thoughts expressed in these posts. They are meaningful to me.

    • Teresa Dietze 26 June 2011 at 10:35 am #

      Dear Carl,

      Your comment moves me deeply. Really. I have tears in my eyes. In part I am impressed (and relieved for you) by the way you are right in there in your own process, doing your self-observation and exploring the dark, frightening places inside. That takes tremendous courage and is a spiritual victory in itself. You’re bringing the light of awareness into your experience where you need it the most. And you have the guts to put words to it and share it. Then you go on to discover the positive.

      On a more selfish note I am relieved to discover that my post, which take me so long to write, are actually reaching someone who can take benefit. Knowing this helps me to continue.

      The Inner Work series (scroll down on the main page and click on the number boxes at the bottom to go to other pages) would most likely be of use for you. In a sense that series forms a foundation or backbone for this type of work.

      Blessings on your inner journey.

      Teresa


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