What is Empathy? It Is Awareness, As We Are Born Self-Centered

Cyron Chan
Dec 21, 2020 · 3 min read

As an educator and design thinking practitioner, we always talk and emphasize the importance of Empathy. However, do everyone knows what empathy is. I want to kickstart the discussion with these scenarios.

Difference between administrator and user
Difference between administrator and user
Difference between administrator and user’s view

Did you experience the following situation before?

“I am really hungry. Are you? What you wanna eat?” “NOOO, I just finished my lunch, I am full”

“Can you turn off the aircon? the office is too cold!” “NOOO, I just finished exercise outside, still sweating!”

“OMG! I’m in the period, why you don’t know how painful I am?!” “NO, I know it baby, I know you are very pain” “NOOO, you don’t!”

Put yourself in somebody’s shoes.

These situations are very, very common. But it also shows what Empathy is and why we need empathy. It’s because everyone is different in terms of our situation, gender, or even our age. We are different even when you finished your lunch, but I eat nothing. The difference is everywhere. You can never find someone who is the same as yourself.

Like a saying, “Put yourself in somebody’s shoes.” I tried to search in the wiki, and it tells:

(figurative) To try to look at a situation from a different perspective, as if one were the other person, to empathize. If you could just put yourself in his shoes for a moment, perhaps you would understand why it is not as easy as you seem to think.

It is a traditional way when we talk about empathy. So, Empathy is the ability to look at a situation from a different point of view? Does it mean that how great you can feel like others’ feeling?

I will say, NO!

Empathy is awareness.

Instead of saying it is an ability, I believe that it is awareness. The awareness of you know nothing about others feeling.

It is common to say that “I had experienced it before, so I know what you feel.” For example, when you just broke up with your girlfriend, your brother may tell you, “Don’t be sad! I know your feeling. I had been broken up with someone before!” However, does he feels what you feel? Is it the same thing?

Usually, we judge others by our experience/feeling. If you are talkative, you think it is easy to do a presentation in the classroom. In contrast, for Introvert people, it is the most challenging thing in their life.

Therefore, Empathy is not an ability to know others feeling. It is an awareness to remind yourself that actually you know nothing and that’s the reason why you should always share what you feel and ask others what they feel.

It is the key to Empathy.

We are born self-centered.

Yes, I believe, and scientists proved.

It is not a negative thing, and it is natural as everyone is their own story’s main character.

We should be educated and remain ourselves the awareness of differences, which is Empathy.

That’s why it is crucial.

Design Thinking Mindset Academy

Design Thinking as a Mindset: Empathy, Creative Confidence, Experiment Spirit

Sign up for Design Thinking Mindset

By Design Thinking Mindset Academy

Keep in touch with the latest article about Design Thinking Mindset | Empathy, Creative Confidence, Experiment Spirit 

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

Cyron Chan

Written by

Impact Venture Builder | Social Innovation 💡| (Social/Impact) Entrepreneurial Mindset Education | Design Thinking Mindset | Yes, all about a mindset change 😎

Design Thinking Mindset Academy

How to drive Mindset Shift? Discovering, Understanding, Praticing. That’s why Design Thinking Mindset Academy shared the wisdom in DT Mindset and the real life example and guideline.

Cyron Chan

Written by

Impact Venture Builder | Social Innovation 💡| (Social/Impact) Entrepreneurial Mindset Education | Design Thinking Mindset | Yes, all about a mindset change 😎

Design Thinking Mindset Academy

How to drive Mindset Shift? Discovering, Understanding, Praticing. That’s why Design Thinking Mindset Academy shared the wisdom in DT Mindset and the real life example and guideline.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface.

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox.

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store