According to many theorists, there is not a fundamental definition of the concept of self-awareness. However, Molis defined the concept of self-awareness as the “explicit understanding that one exists” (2006). Molis explains that self-awareness includes the concept that every human being exists as an individual, who is separate from other human beings and one who has private thoughts (Molis, 2006). According to Zahavi, the concept of self-awareness also includes the understanding that other individuals are self-aware. It can, therefore, be said that the concept of self-awareness involves a process of understanding one’s identity. From an epistemological point of view, the concept of self-awareness involves the development of self-consciousness. It is during the periods of self-consciousness when a person is able to know him/herself objectively (Zahavi, 1999, p.26).
The concept of self-awareness is important in helping an individual mold healthy relationships with others. In his book, ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,’ Stephen Covey reveals that “self-awareness enables us to stand apart and examine the way we see ourselves, as well as to see other people” (cited in Reece & Brandt, 2008, p.19). When one becomes self-aware, one is able to understand how other people behave and hence able to develop a healthy relationship with others.
According to Gargiulo (2005), self-awareness is key to becoming more observant. This means that for one to develop good observation powers, one has to have a high degree of self-awareness. Self-awareness enables us to divert from extreme self-monitoring to paying attention to the external environment. When one’s attention is redirected to the external environment, self-awareness takes a different role of analyzing and arbitrating the impressions received, assumptions made, conclusions drawn and behaviors initiated in response to the things we observe. Through analyzing and arbitrating the above-mentioned things, one is able to become more observant (Gargiulo, 2005).