They are inter-dependent and inter-connected and as such are not opposites but rather polar aspects of the same thing or process. They reflect polar possibilities within a fluid spectrum. Between these polar aspects lie infinite possibilities containing qualities of both.
If we take positive verses negative as an example, nothing is absolutely positive or absolutely negative. Positive things can turn out to have very negative effects and negative things can introduce very positive outcomes.
In this “game of black and white” we not only categorize things into seeming dual opposites, we also add a rule that Bill Harris, Founder and director of Centerpointe Research Institute calls: “ White Must Win”.
“White Must Win” implies that we choose one of the polar options and insist that it win over the other. We decide that good must win over bad, life should win over death without and so on failing to acknowledge they are completely inter-dependent and can’t exist without each other.
This approach causes a lot of suffering because we strive for something that is unattainable. The more we insist the more suffering we experience. ( Topic for another blog ).
Getting back to the Self verses relationships, they are not polar opposites but different aspect of the same thing therefore can’t win over each other.
In practical terms this means that developing the Self does not require disconnecting relationships nor should relationships be at the expense of developing the self.
The problem is that in practicality many conflicts do arise. Developing the Self requires time and focus and often directs you in directions that conflict with previous decisions, commitments and connections. Balancing the two can be challenging.
If you add social norms that confuse self-development with egoism plus the psychological need to belong and fear of abandonment and ostracism, many people get bogged down and prefer status quo over Self- searching into the unknown.
I personally believe that the two compliment and support each other. I do admit that for that to be practical you definitely need the right partners. Relationships based on possession and fear of loss cannot allow growth as it threatens the mere existence of the relationship.
Developing the Self implies awakening aspects of the Self that were previously unavailable. This considerably expands available inner resources allowing for more diverse self expression, self manifestation and potential experiences.
As growth enriches the Self, so can relationships be inspired and nurtured by the new potential. As the Self expands what is available to it, simultaneously, new horizons become available to relationships opening options to experience interaction in exciting new ways.
If balanced correctly all parties involved have only to benefit.