Unreasonable Expectations

Unreasonable ExpectationsPushing more assignment into a limited time frame then it is possible to achieve put us under enormous pressure. Whenever someone demands us to accomplish his or her Unreasonable Expectations he/she does not consider neither our rights, interest and/or feelings – nor the reality.

 If no one else does, you need to protect yourself from its devastating consequences.


When I was about 16, I was living in a conservatory in a small town in Hungary. During this time, it first hit me: My teachers expected me to spend about 35-38 hours a week in school, practice the flute about 3 hours a day, mandatory piano an hour a day, solfeggio for half an hour, music theory for another half, accord recognition and practice, and complete my homework in the regular high school curriculum. On top of all this, I was commuting about 2.5 hours per day.

As I compiled the hours, I concluded that I didn’t do anything but constant work without any breaks. I had 2-3 hours of sleep only to begin the same routine at 6:45 when I boarded the student bus.

It did not take long to realize this is unreasonable, even surreal. I was not able to do too much to resist it; at least I knew it is not my fault if I cannot fulfill these expectations.

I did everything I could, and comforted myself with the Beatles song: “It’s been a hard day’s night, I’ve been working like a dog…”

I managed to survive the music school. Surprise, surprise! However, with all of this training, I have not become a musician, but switched to psychology. There were “Hard day’s nights” again when I undertook evening courses while working in daily jobs and conducting scientific experiments in pursuit of my Master’s Thesis.


At least I chose that path rather than it being imposed upon me. Even to this day, I, have scary dreams that I forgot to go to clean the post office during the night or at dawn which was my breadwinner job for 2 years.

At Ph D. school it hit again. I was expected to be organizing the research, conducting interviews and route description with blind people, recording, and statistically analyzing the data. In addition to this, I was expected to have at least 2 publications in prestigious magazines, show up at the necessary lectures, teach, and have 2 intermediate language exams within 3 years. Furthermore, during the week I was suppose to read about 500 pages from the new Ethology book plus be informed about the newest articles in the connecting scientific field.


At this time I was even madder than in high school because I expected a more rational approach from scientific researchers. I went around and asked skillful colleagues how many pages are they able to read in English. (Remember: English was the second or rather third-fourth language for all of us, reading it did not go as quick as in one’s mother tongue.) Of course the result was similar to high school. If I don’t sleep and don’t live and don’t do anything else, I might accomplish the assignments only slightly after the deadline.

Time after time I got into similar situations and the effect is the same on me. I’m confident it is probably the same for everybody else: STRESS. STRESS and even more STRESS.

My husband came home one day and informed me that he got an assignment from his boss. However, the deadline for the design was the previous day. Knowing the circumstances, I had no doubt it is a form of manipulation: “Be anxious because of the late work in compensation and put extra hours to the accomplishment without thinking any compensation.”

On two separate occasions, my children came home from school with lots of homework. To add insult to injury, they were unrealistically expected to show up 2-3 hours later in concert well fed, well rested and adorned in concert attire.

Did they give it on purpose to stress us out or manipulate children for better achievement? I don’t think so. My guess is they did not even think about that other teachers give the same amount of task to the same children. Or do I suppose they didn’t care how the families were solving those time management problems?

Whenever we buy in to take responsibility for accomplishing something that is not attainable under the given time frame, we put enormous stress on ourselves.

How can you maintain any element of sanity if our boss, teachers or supervisor pour enormous amounts of assignments onto you?

My approach is that that we should apply a little rational effort into analyzing the task. How much time will the subtasks take? How long will you spend in traffic? How much time do you allocate for breaks or eating or any other part of the process? Add everything together and multiply it maybe 2 or 3 times.

There are always unexpected obstacles in the process. On top of this you are green therefore slower at the beginning. Additionally, you are tired therefore slower to complete the task at hand. It should also be noted that we have individual differences in our speed and rhythm of work.

Once we had to calculate an entry exam evaluation time. We sorted out how much time it will take to opening the boxes, sorting out the questionnaires, counting the right answers, entering one questionnaire’s data in the computer, multiplied with the questionnaire’s numbers, applying the statistics and writing the evaluation…


If you found that the expectations exceeds the calculated time for the assignment, you can assume that you will not be ready on time.

How do you handle the situation depends on you and the particular problem.

I usually argue in the rational way going through point by point why the expectation seems to be unreasonable to me: which part takes how long and how many part tasks add up the assignment. I try to find a workable compromise where we can lower the expectation or extend the time frame, maybe share the workload.

If I am unsuccessful in my efforts, I try not to take the responsibility to accomplish something which does not seem possible. I do my best, and get to the point where it is possible. It does not always come easy, but I do my best not to stress about it.

If I could not convince my superior about my opinion, I figure out how to leave the situation sooner rather than later. This is not my best interest to live in an environment that constantly pressures me. Of course I consider every circumstance before I decide. However, if I don’t stand up for my interest, no one will.

I did my best convincing teachers not to put unreasonable pressure towards our children with unrealistic amount of homework in vain on the contrary of the proof of countless studies. By very few replying to my request, it only proves that they don’t care.

The best I can do is to equip them with stable self-confidence, knowing when it is normal, when it is challenging and when it is too much. Of course homework is not supported in my home after 8pm. 12 hours of work time has to be enough for everything important, especially in those early years.

On the side note: in hunter gatherer societies it is about 3-4 days a week that they need to actively work: hunt or gather. During that time they are able to provide for the family. So why are our 6-14 years old children need to work more than 6 hours a day?

What is really annoying for me is that Unrealistic Expectations DO NOT SERVE and do NOT EVEN CONSIDER the receiving party’s needs and interests! People who demand too much from you DO NOT CARE about what you want to do or how you feel about it. It does not concern them what you would lose if you comply.
If you see it through these lenses, you realize that no matter how they pressure you, your worth does not depend on whether or not you fulfill unrealistic expectations!

If they don’t care about you, you do not have to care about them! It’s so simple when it is all said and done.


PS: Since I finished this article I went a Middle School and a High School Curriculum Night. In both places they prepared us that our children will have home work assignments that add up about 3-6 hour of work in average, maybe more in case of tests. (Which is happening way too often and way to pressurizing way.)

In middle school they even have homework assignment from Physical Education, in addition they have to “make up” for PE classes when they are missing class because of illness or other reason.

Splendid. Not enough that the child is weakened by the illness and have to catch up with other classes, they have to do double physical activity the days after missed school.

How reasonable is this?

Why do we do it with our children?

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Psychotherapy beyond the Magic

Short talk at Mukilteo Chamber – Meet Up Network Group in January the 6th 2016



You find the slides on the bottom of the page in clickable format.


Thank you very much for having me! Good morning everyone!


My name is Zita Fekete, my business is Sound Soul Counseling. This is a psychotherapy business, and today I am absolutely delighted to share my delusions about psychotherapy.


So, this presentation was made for a longer talk, so what I can do today: just skip many-many slides and focus on one, which I think is the most important for you: I would like to share with you what I think about what is working in psychotherapy.
2nd slide: “What’s the difference?”
Let’s begin with some (other) important thing: if you ever or your friends or acquaintances are in trouble and you would like to have some help in the psychology field, you need to know that psychiatrists are doctors. They are working in the medical model; meaning, they think that mental issues are chemical imbalances of the brain; they give you medication, nothing else.

Of course it’s not black and white always, but mostly.


Psychologist are professionals who are mostly trained for evaluation and treatment (I meant testing – sorry. The author.) They are not really or not always interested in curing things (illnesses) or helping people out.


If you think you need or your family needs psychological solution for psychological problem, that’s what psychotherapist, or counselors or therapist (do.) … They can have Master’s Degree in mental health field, social work or family and marriage therapy.


3rd slide: “Mental/Psychological Disturbances”
This slide I skip, you have it all in the hand outs, if you are interested, please look after that what I do think about different illnesses in very short – hopefully – understandable terms.


(You can find the same in the presentation below. PLease click on the arrow to go forward.)


4th slide: “Origin of Psychological Disturbances”
The origin of these illnesses are almost always – hiow we learned – “multi-determined. So we cannot say that this caused that or that, or that caused that. No blaming of mothers no blaming of genetics. Everything worked together when someone is suffering from something.


5th silde: “’Modalities’ – Psychotherapy Types”
The Modalities of psychotherapy. There are many, many many more. That (list) was just what first came to my mind. Different people are working with different type of therapies.
I don’t go into details.
The most important thing is that… all of the (looking for the right slide, I did not find it) Sorry I lost the right one.


What I wanted to say is that researches show that if the therapist believes in his or her therapy modality and the relationship is good with the client, … there is no really difference between those type of therapies. It is all working, if you are in a good relationship. What every research shows is that the relationship itself what really helps to solve the problems.


6th slide: “Treatment Options”
Different treatment options for the different kind of illnesses.


7th slide: “Jungian Analytic (or Complex) Psychology”
I’ve made a little list of the Jungian psycho-dynamic therapy because this is what I think the closest to the human complexity, the complexity of the human psyche. Most of the time I use this method.


8th slide: “what work in Psychotherapy?
Now here is what I would like to concentrate on today…
So, when you think about going to a therapist, and you think that: OK, so what will be the magic? What will work? How will I understand better? How will I feel better after I leave?
There are many, many, many different elements of the psychotherapy that really works.


  • First of all before you go: just think about it! You will think through and organize and sort out what you will talk about. It even itself is very helpful.
  • Many times people keep their… uhm let’s say secret. Even it’s happened with me not so long ago, that I told out something loud for my supervisor which was in the long time kept in secret. I was completely aware of it. Still, I experienced that after I was able to put it together and say it out loud, it had a profound effect on me. It really effected how I was thinking about that event what I was talking about.

So, really, keeping secrets can harm you. I mean, I don’t encourage to share everything to everybody, but sometimes it really can help.


  • Many times I see that people who are struggling with something, they are afraid that: “Oh it’s surely not normal. I’m crazy.” And you cannot imagine that basically everything is ok. Everything is normal. So we experience so events when feel troubled, confused, we can feel many different way, and it’s all normal.

Just not so long ago I was talking with someone, to whom I said: “yes of course, anniversaries are really hard. It’s everybody, who went through some trauma, the time of the year when the trauma happened triggers lots of stress and…, and depression, anxiety, however you react, but some trouble.


  • Ventilation of negative feelings I think, especially … important for women, as far as I see. What I see most of the time men likes to find solution as quick as possible, but for women talking about what’s happened, processing, the process itself helps to get rid of the stress.
    Clarifying expectations, needs, uhm… what else, values, basic self-awareness is a really important part of every cognitive therapy.


  • And here come the insight which is my favorite. This is the very focus of my work, to have so… have the clients to see things in the light what they haven’t seen before.


The best analogy what I find is how they call: insight learning. At the time when in America and in Russia … in the middle of the last century everybody was dealing with stimuli- response type of learning Koehler in Germany made an experiment with chimpanzees. The experiment was that in a room they hung up bananas from the ceiling which the chimpanzees could not reach, but he put different size and different boxes all around the room. And what’s happened: They let the chimpanzees in, and after the chimpanzees were looking here and there and around, after a short while they put together boxes, climbed up, reach the banana and get it.


Nobody believed that at time that this is possible, – of course now we know that we are and chimps are way more capable of doing many more things. But this is this kind of insight or similar kind of insight what I love to work in psychotherapy. When you have different memories, different thoughts, different feelings, different evaluations in different spaces of your psyche, in different time of your timeline, and we can put it together see it in a different picture. See something in a new perspective and having more capability to solve anything what causes problem.


We can use all of the others what you can …. here. Jeff just showed me I have to wrap this up…


There are many, many, many others what helps. But all together with a selection of art, what time what is the best to chose from: Now relaxation, now I use a little bit of cognitive, now we try to get some insight. I think it is the best way how we can tackle the psyche and really help people to find rational solution for their emotional problem.


Thank you very much for your interest and for your attention.
Thank you!


Manipulative girlfriend – will I attract another one?

“My last girlfriend was extremely manipulative and I never saw it coming. She had me twisted around her little finger until her every whim was met and then she dumped me. I’m really worried I’ll attract another girl like this, what do I need to look out for?”


Answer: “Thank you for this excellent question. Many-many kind, nice guys suffer from the same situation when they are overly nice to their girlfriend just to get nothing or hardly anything in return.

Your worries are reasonable. If you once get involved in a manipulative relationship you have a good chance that you will attract another one; until you don’t understand the reasons and act against them.

We have some personality traits which serve as magnet for manipulators.

For example:

The people pleasing habit.

When the approval is way too important for you.

If you fear from the negative emotions, therefore you avoid conflict.

If you don’t know how to stand up, assert your rights.

Or if you feel guilty when you say no.

If you are not sure about who you are and where your boundaries are.

If you are not 100 % sure about your judgment and opinion.

Or if you think that our lives are basically influenced by outside factors like friends, family of destiny rather than our own choice.


These personality traits serve as magnet for manipulators because they sense that they can exploit the person with these traits.


Recognize the pattern in the long term relationship if it begins like a manipulative relationship!

At the start it seems like enthusiastic. You feel like all of your needs are fulfilled. Then, after a couple of months a transition period is coming, when you feel yourself criticized, judged. From this point on you would do whatever it takes to get wonderful beginning back. And this is the point when the manipulator controls your behavior.


If your girlfriend wants to know too much, too soon about you especially if she want to know about your weaknesses. Watch out for guilt trips, victim games, if she doesn’t take responsibility. Watch out for lies, if she behaves differently before and in the back of the others, and if she generally wants to take more than to give.



Personality Traits that make us Vulnerable:


  • People pleasing habit
  • Approval is over-proportionally important
  • Fear from negative emotions
  • Conflict Avoidance
  • Blurry Self  “Who am I actually?” – Fluid Boundaries
  • Low Self Reliance – “I don’t know! I’m not sure!”
  • Believing that the control is outside anyway



Red Flags in a new relationship:


  • At the start it is enthusiastic, you feel all of your needs are fulfilled. After a transition period you feel yourself criticized, judged
  •  Your girlfriend (boyfriend) wants to know too much, too soon about you, especially about your weaknesses
  • Guilt Trips
  • Victim Games
  • Not taking responsibility for actions, decisions, feelings
  • Lies
  • Behaving differently before and in the back of others
  • Take more than give



What to do with dirty fighters?



Hi, this is Zita Fekete with “Ask an Expert!”  Answering your love and relationship questions.

Question: “I feel like my husband is a dirty fighter. He calls me names, he’s manipulative, he gives me the silent treatment. How can I get him to stop acting like this and fight with me in a fair way?”


Answer: “Excellent question! You are not the only one who is husband is a dirty fighter dealing with a dirty fighter at home. Name calling, silent treatment, belongs to the toolbox of emotional manipulation. When he calls you name, you feel inferior. When he gives you the silent treatment you might fear from abandonment or rejection. When you feel terrible enough, he gives hints, tells you or shows you how you should behave in order to avoid these painful feelings.


How you can handle this tricky situation can viewed in three points.

First of all: you need to separate the imposed feeling from the goal of the manipulation.

(Second) You need to see that the invoked feeling is not the reality what we are talking about.

Third: You need to resist at the core of the manipulation.


What’s the core? – This is your job to figure it out! What your husband wants you to do imposing these feelings? Is it more house work? Is it more serving his needs? Is it more keep your mouth shut about your needs? You have to figure this out.


You have to resist at the core! And why? Because manipulation is a self reinforcing process. The more you comply, the more he feels this pressurizing tactic works, so it reinforces the manipulation.


If you want to break the cycle, you need to stop complying with it.


Do you need more help to get free from your trap? Sign up for the

“From Strings To Wings” short online training! 

It’s less than third of a session – $ 27!

What if he makes me feel not good enough?

Question: “I have this feeling in my marriage that I’m never good enough. My husband often compares to his mother who was perfect, or his sister who does no wrong, and I am really resentful. How can I show him what this is doing to our marriage?”


Answer: “Great Question! You are not alone with overly critical husband. Sometime critique can aim to correct some important issue, but most of the time habitually critical people might raise their own weak self esteem by look down on their environment, families and friends.


What does it mean?

One: you take his critiques seriously and personally.

Second: he can control your behavior with this critique.


How can you handle this situation? I can summarize you in four points:


First of all you have to see that the critiques has a goal. The goal is to control your behavior for some way. You need to figure out what is this way. What he wants to get out from you. Is it more housework? Is it more money? Is it more dealing with his needs without return? You have to figure this out!


The second point: Dismiss this feeling! Now you see that this is not about you! This is just a tool of the manipulation. It has nothing to with your real qualities. So don’t care about it!


(Third point.)What I would suggest is: Don’t jump into the defensive. – Don’t take me wrong! It is instinctive! Every one of us jumps into defensive mode when we feel critique, but most of the time this is just oil to the fire. – Don’t engage to the argument and don’t try to convince him that he’s not right. Just dismiss the feeling in this way.


(Four.) And the main point is that no matter… eh find out what he wants you to do and resist to this point. Not because I think that rebellion is so good in a relationship, but this is only for manipulation. Because when you comply, it reinforces the process. He sees that he pressurizes you, criticizes you, and this critique will result to the behavior what he wants you to do.


Your change of behavior will change the whole relationship.