The first step is to accept and take responsibility for your own care. Identify personal barriers such as beliefs and attitudes that stand in the way of caring for yourself. Perhaps you think you are selfish if you put your own needs first? Or, do you feel guilty or afraid to think of your own needs? Do you have trouble asking for what you need? Do you feel inadequate if you ask for help? Do you feel that you have to prove something to your partner, family, or friends?
Do you feel responsible for the other person’s health and if you don’t do it right, no one will? Perhaps you seek the live, attention, and respect that you believe you deserve? Or, you have made a promise to yourself or others?
These thoughts and beliefs are normal but you have to move past them and accept that you are important too. Otherwise, the resulting constant feelings of failure and frustration will prevent you from helping the other person. Learning to care for yourself first is a necessary step before you can have success in caring for someone else. The first step is to recognize warning signs of distress in yourself and to take action to remove your negative beliefs and change your behavior. The group of symptoms that a caregiver increasingly experience are commonly referred to as compassion fatigue.
Next, we explain the concept of compassion fatigue and provide a questionnaire where you can identify areas of your own that may need attention.