He defines caregiver worktapes as unconscious messages about work that are stored in the recesses of the brain. They are messages that are learned from parents, co-workers, colleagues, or a boss. Despite the fact that these messages seem to play over and over again in one’s mind, Dr. Wolfelt explains that the conscious mind cannot easily articulate them.
The four most common worktapes experienced by caregivers of the bereaved or dying are outlined below:
Be available at all times. This worktape claims that “If you really care, you must be available at all times!” However, we all know that being available 24/7 is not healthy. As caregivers, we must set emotional and physical limitations for ourselves to prevent burnout. Additionally, if you are continually working and you never turn off this worktape, your effectiveness is diluted.
If you’re resting, you’re lazy. Do you ever feel that taking a break during a busy work day makes you lazy? Have you ever heard, “What are you doing sitting down? There is always something to do around here!” Be careful to not confuse constant activity with productivity. Dr. Wolfelt reminds us that effectiveness must take precedence over busy-ness.
No pain, no gain. This worktape constantly reminds us that “We must go the extra mile.” Were you raised to believe that success is based directly on how hard you work? While hard work has its place, we must not hold it in such high regard that we exclude times of rest, play, and relaxation.
If you really care, you’ll go beyond the call of duty. Has the following thought ever crossed your mind? “You have the opportunity to make a difference. If you are truly compassionate and want to help others, you will stay late and come in early.” We should all be proud of the wonderful work we do in the service profession. However, Dr. Wolfelt cautions us to not become martyrs. Personal boundaries and downtime are a must!
Do you find that any of these caregiver worktapes are stuck on repeat in your mind? How do you turn off the tapes?