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Have you ever had one of those moments where you are expecting one thing and get something completely different? Order a Dr. Pepper and get Diet Coke …bleck!!!! (I don’t drink sodas anymore, but I distinctly remember that experience!!)

So, in my nutrition studies, I heard a lot about cacao nibs and decided that I needed to try them. I bought a box, poured a bunch in my hands and scooped them into my mouth, which was already watering in expectation and anticipation of dark chocolate bliss. Ahhhh….bleecckkk!!! Yuck!! Tree bark and dirt were the first thoughts that popped into my mind … you know that scene from “Over the Hedge” when the animals are chewing on tree bark after experiencing the bliss of Spuddies and “It’s Nacho Cheese” chips….yeah.Nacho Cheese

Well, that box was expensive, so I couldn’t bring myself to just throwing it away. I vowed to find another use for these nibs – maybe I could grind them into powder – so I sealed the bag in the box and put them up in the pantry.

A few months after that I was at dinner with some health coach friends and the conversation went to chocolate and cacao nibs. I shared my experience and one the coaches said he actually prefers the nibs to regular chocolate. “Really?!” I said “… they tasted like tree bark and dirt to me!”

“Hmmm…. Yeah, they are a bit earthy, but I actually prefer them now.”

With that in mind, I came home, pulled out my expensive box of cacao nibs and tried them once again … no expectations of chocolate bliss this time. “Hmmmm…not so bad.” I thought. A few more. Actually, yes they are pretty good. Bitter, stronger than dark chocolate and not sweet, but almost a liquor flavor. Yeah, I like them.

cacaonibsBenefits of chocolate..

I learned something that night. Expectations are powerful influencers. And an unmet expectation made me completely turn on something that I ended up liking when I was able to remove the false expectation.

Have you ever been there? So disappointed in a movie because it didn’t live up to your expectation from the hype of the previews? So disappointed in a meal because someone else promised it to be the best thing you will ever taste? So disappointed in a person (or yourself) because they didn’t live up to your standard?

What about going into situations expecting to fail? This one strikes home for me. I am working through Precision Nutrition’s Lean Eating program and realized half way through it that I expect that it won’t work for me. I’ve tried a whole bunch of things and they didn’t work, so why would this one? Expecting to fail = self-fulfilling prophesy. And I’m crushing that limiting belief with a clean slate … an attitude of exploration and finding what will work for me.

What if we started going into situations without expectations? A clean slate. Unprejudiced experience. Ohhh. That’s hard. How can I forget what hasn’t worked, drop the fear of failing again, or forget a painful experience … if I put myself in that similar situation again, then surely all of those bad things will happen again. And there may be some truth in that – on occasion with some circumstances.  I wouldn’t suggest that you continuously put yourself in a known abusive situation. But for the most part, those past experiences that have caused pain probably won’t happen again. And we can learn from those painful experiences and do things differently.

Failed, unmet expectations lead to a lot of self-induced disappointment, stress and pain.

Or, as my pastor puts it:
It’s a basic rule in ALL relationships:  “Unmet expectations ALWAYS results in conflict.”
Expectations are generally not met because of 3 reasons:

a.  We don’t know it’s expected.  (the expectation was never communicated)
b.  It’s not realistic.  (the expectation itself is just not realistic…therefore never accomplished)
c.  We know the expectation but just selfishly choose not to do what it takes to meet it.

Thanks, Marty …

So, when are expectations healthy? What is a “good expectation?” As one who tends to have expectations that are too high, I don’t know that I can answer this question this side of humanity. It’s really hard … I expect that people will follow through with their word, that they will do their job, pitch in, etc … but reality is, as humans we all fail to meet expectations. We miss the mark. We need grace.

But there is One who I know I can always expect to come through for me.  The Bible is full of God’s promises and when I take the time to understand what He has promised, I am never disappointed. And when everything and everyone else falls through One thing always remains … constant and unchanging … God’s love never fails, never gives up and never runs out on me.

For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Rom 8:38-39

So, what expectations do you need to adjust?

~Digging Deep …