The P&L of a Blessing

Posted by: admin  :  Category: Neuro Semantics, NLP, Personal Development

Most of us know the meaning of the abbreviation “P & L”.  It simply means “profit and loss” and in business circles it plays a very important role; it indicates the sum total of the revenue, costs and expenses incurred during a specific period of time. In simple terms it’s an income and expenses statement, how much you have spent, given out and how much you have got back, profited. The more the profit outweighs the `expenses and cost, the more profitable is a business. The opposite, on the other hand, simply means that the business is not profitable and is running at a loss.


Now, what is the P & L of a blessing, a gift? For me a blessing is also a gift and a gift is also a blessing, both serves as a symbol of gracing someone with the wishes of good health, a good future, good opportunities, prosperity, happiness, etc. So, what is the P & L of a blessing, gift? Strange question, you may ask. But that’s precisely the point…’s a strange but real question that most folks ask or have in mind when they are buying someone a gift; “What’s the P & L of this blessing, this gift?”  



Last weekend my wife and I celebrated the Chinese Lunar New Year and one of the customs practiced during this celebration is the giving of “Ang Pow’s”, which in Chinese means “red envelope or packet”. The packet’s color is to ward off evil spirits and symbolizes the giving of good luck for the coming New Year. What’s put inside is a monetary gift, most of the time in even digits; odd numbered amounts are avoided. Who receives these “Ang Pow’s”? Unmarried folks and ones parents, grand parents or grand aunties (or elderly folks): folks who bear significant emotional significance to the giver. Once one gets married, one is no longer entitled to receive but is now required to give! So, my wife and I fall into the category of “givers”…our receiving days have long since passed.


So on the first day of the Dragon New Year something happened that caught my attention. One of my relatives was going around distributing “Ang Pow’s” when she came to a young man who is soon to be married and she told him authoritatively, “This is your last year to get from me. Next year you’ll be married and you must now give, pay back for all the years you have been receiving. Wow, I pity you, so much you’ll have to give!” You can guess the look on this young man’s. He received the red packed with a “put on smile”, similar to the ones we see news casters or presenters wear when they are on the late night shift. Once the giver had moved away, his “put on smile” was replaced with a look of disgust.



“You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving.”

- Author Unknown


I felt a tone of sadness for this young man. Here was an occasion for blessing one another with good wishes, blessings and gifts but it turned sour for him because the “P & L” factor of a blessing, a gift was brought into account! For him, “pay back” time was just around the corner and soon the “Lunar New Year” may just turn out to be a “dreadful celebration” that is no longer joyously anticipated! My wife and I were in a similar situation years ago…the same thing was told to us the year before we got married; some of the “givers” reminded us that “pay back” time was around the corner and that the “P & L” of blessing given over the years will be brought into account!  


So, here’s that strange question again: “What’s the P & L of a blessing, a gift?”


Most folks do ask this question and would have done the math to calculate the “P & L” of their gift giving in such a way that they would get some returns; be it with a gift, a sense of being viewed by the receiver as being someone generous and benevolent and impressing upon the receiver ones economic and social standing or even to satisfy the “guilt” or “obligation” to follow the “family rules” of giving back to someone a gift that has been received or “compulsory” giving to an “elder” who everybody seems to give which results in the payback of “acceptance” and “inclusion”.


Some on the other hand have mastered the “P & L” game of gift giving very well, measuring the amount they will have to give in contrast to the returns they will receive with precision. For example, a friend of mine told when I got married to “make plenty of children” so that when the New Year or any other celebration comes around I’ll always have the advantage of numbers and so receive more than I give out. Incidentally this guy has five children, so though he has had to give out “Ang Pow’s”, he also gets back plenty…..good blessing and gift “P & L” management! He must hold a Masters Degree in this field.


So, what’s the “P & L” of a blessing, gift for you? Is there some part of you doing the math of the “giving” to see the potential returns, be they monetarily or other wise? Most of us have some kind of “P & L” going on, me include. The difference is a matter of degree and awareness and the shifts we make to move beyond the accepted norms of the gift economy of the society and family culture we live in as well as the traditional norms which we have unconsciously imbibed over the years and enshrined as “beliefs”, “taboos” and the “rules” of “gift giving”.


“The spirit in which a thing is given determines that in which the debt is acknowledged; it’s the intention, not the face-value of the gift, that’s weighed.”

- Lucius Annaeus Seneca


Below I have drawn 3 broad categories of gift giving which has some kind of “P & L” involved (note that there may be other further categorizations):


1. Giving to gain some form of “capital influence”: here we give to gain some kind of influence over the other(s). We give so that the receiver feels obligated to us in some way. In such instances mild to severe subjection takes place and the receiver feels obligated to the giver, in a state of “owing” and consequently is obligated to be nice, to say yes, to never question, to be supportive, etc. while the giver enjoys the huge “commodity of influence” over him or her and an alleviated sense of emotional, social, economical and political standing.



Such practices of giving are prevalent in family, business and political circles. We see it everywhere and are either victims of it or its perpetrators.    


“Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up.”  

- The Reverend Jesse Jackson  


2. Giving out of obligation: here we either consciously or unconsciously give because of the obligation of a rule, law, traditional, religious, family or social norm or practice. The fear, guilt and punishment factor plays a huge part in “forcing” or “obligating” one to “gift give” while the rewards of this giving is the feeling of being “accepted”, “included”, “feeling OK”, “validated”, “justified” or “righteous”.


Another version of this giving is to give back to the person from which we have received a gift simply because we have to or feel obligated to do so! This can result in “gift account” keeping: where we keep accounts and give back the similar amount or similar gift given so that the giver does experience a “sense of loss” or we a sense of being in depth. As the Chinese say, “To save one’s face”.  


Yet, another variety of the above is “gifting according to the exchange value of the gift”. Here one simply decides to give a gift based on the value of the gift received, no more or no less. This measure is also used to evaluative the quality of the relationship!       


“It isn’t the size of the gift that matters, but the size of the heart that gives it.”

- Quoted in The Angels’ Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994


 3. Codependent giving: giving in order to receive in return some kind of emotional gratification. An “needy” kind of giving which compels and manipulates the other to give back something that the giver feels he or she “needs” or “lacks” in order to feel good and be happy. This kind of gift giving is also used to maintain the relationship, to feel valuable, esteemed and validated by the other: and is a subtle way of controlling the relationship!  


Codependent givers at times feel that they need to give in order “to take care” of the receiver and can practice “great acts of generosity” to get what they “need” from the relationship but can also feel victimized by the other when the gift or emotional gratification is not given in return.  Most codependent giving is based on the conscious or unconscious need of the giver to “be needed” and get some kind of emotional gratification in return.  


“To give and not expect return, that is what lies at the heart of love.”

- Oscar Wilde


 In all the categories above, the giver and receiver is drawn into a “P & L” game, either freely or other wise. And the roles between “giver” and “receiver” can be changed, reversed or mutually exchanged resulting in the “bondage” of obligation, manipulation and score keeping.



 “What is a true gift? One for which nothing is expected in return.”

- Chinese Proverb


As we grow, we may find ourselves in maybe one, two or all three categories, or a combination of them to varying degrees. Looking back, I myself have seen traces of these categories in me in varying shades, tones and intensity. This is how we grow, mature, gain awareness and make shifts that help us actualize our highest and best intentions and meanings. Nonetheless one thing is for sure, whenever we give a blessing or a gift with a calculated “P & L”, we are well on the way of giving a “false gift” to another as well as deceiving ourselves into thinking of ourselves as generous givers. Why? Simply because we are giving without sufficient grace and are expecting, or maybe even subtly demanding, something back in return: payback, be it monetarily, the gratification of our conscious or unconscious need to be “needed”, recognized, gain status, influence, control or to feel “righteous”, “justified”  and “included”.  


So, here’s that strange question again: “What’s the P & L of a blessing, a gift?”


How can “gift giving” be different?

What can we do to make shifts away from a “P & L gift economy” or culture?

How would one feel when a gift is given and received freely and graciously with no visible or invisible strings attached?


“To give without any reward, or any notices, has a special quality of its own.”

- Ann Morrow Lindbergh


 “All you have shall some day be given; 
Therefore give now, that the season of giving
 may be yours and not your inheritors.”

- Kahlil Gibran


 Perhaps the two following stories below may help us find our own answers to these questions.


The Perspective of the GIVER, giving with sufficient grace:

Last weekend as I sat at the Coffee Bean on the first day of the Lunar New Year sipping my vanilla latté together with my wife, I noticed something amazing, perhaps an example of “amazing grace”. Walking out of the shopping complex was a couple with their teenage looking son. They, the parents were visible excited, gingerly leading their son towards the car park, smiling at him, engaging him with lots of hugs and cuddles…looking proud and excited.Normal, you may say except that he was severely spastic, walked with a heavy limp and was radically uncoordinated. 


Here was a couple who must have spent years unconditionally loving, caring and gifting their son, knowing fully well that he will not grow up to be that “normal” son who would look after: house, care and provide for them in their old age, when they are no longer able to do so for themselves. He would not be that off spring who would feel gracious and thankful for all they have done for him and choose to support them emotionally and monetarily in return, as well as tell the whole world about the support he had received from them. He would not be that “famous son” who would grow up and be a renowned and successful doctor, lawyer or politician who would make his parents proud and who they could brag about to their friends and relatives.



 “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”

- Steve Prefontaine


In a way, the “conventional P & L expectations of parenthood” held no sway and that did not matter. What I saw and was radically moved by, were parents who choose to love their son unconditionally and to be GIVERS of grace and blessings to him with no   “P & L” involved. Nothing was expected in return. Only giving with grace, with the joy of seeing what they were giving and doing for him was making a difference in his life: feeding, bathing, clothing, comforting, playing, understanding, supporting and being all that they could be just for his growth and development. An example of giving with sufficient grace: A GRACEFUL GIVING OF A “REAL” GIFT.  


“The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson


The Perspective of the RECEIVER, receiving with grace:

I was once shopping for a new pair of slacks sometime ago. It was at one of those normal shopping complexes and as usual I picked the color and style and requested for a fitting. The pants fitted well and I looked pretty good in it. It was a sure buy. Then I put my hands into the pockets to get a feel of them and found a RM 50 dollar note! Hard to believe…but it happened. I did not know who left the note there. I had no way of finding who that person was so I told the sales assistant and he said that he did not know who would have tried on that particular pants last and when.


“The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.”

- Pierre Corneille, Le Menteur




For me this was an example of “receiving with grace”. In a way did not know the “giver” and could not return or even “thank” that person. It help pay for part of the pants I purchased and that made my “buying experience” graceful; that pair of slacks was a “free gift” that I could just receive with no obligations to return the favor or with any   “strings attached”. It simply surprised me, made me feel blessed, made a “difference” in that it fulfilled my need (I needed a new pair of slacks!) and left me feeling happy for a pretty long time. Till today, it remains a fond memory of “grace”: receiving a gift with grace, without the need to repay, respond or return that blessing, gift or favor. An experience of simply receiving a blessing without merit or favor! An example of receiving with grace: A GRACEFUL RECEIVING OF A “REAL” GIFT. Perhaps you to may have such a similar experience, have you not?


“It takes great generosity to accept generosity.”

-Merle Shain


In both of these experiences there’s no “LOSS” in the blessing given or received, only the unconditional “PROFIT” of a giving with GRACE without any expectations of a return or even gratefulness and the “PROFITABLE” receiving with GRACE without any “obligation, opportunity or chance” to return the blessings! Being given without any consideration of merit: if one deserves it or not.             


So, here’s that strange question again: “What’s the P & L of a blessing, a gift?”


We live in a “gift economy” or culture that is secular, commercialized and mathematical: one that is “ungraceful” and which encourages the calculation of the “P & L” of a gift, blessing, favor, opportunity, etc. A culture that practices the “give to get” principle: to get something you must first give something and then you’ll have that other person in an “obligatory” position to “pay back” what has been given. A “gift economy” that looks at a gift and not at the “meaning and intention” behind it, that evaluates it monetarily; from the perspective of its brand, packaging and social equilibrium. A “gift economy” that demands equal exchange; for payback for what has been given and that does not know what “graceful giving or receiving” is. No wonder festive seasons can be stressful times….seasons of “ungraceful” encounters and experiences.  


“What’s the P & L of a blessing, a gift?”


Each of us will have to answer this question. Whatever our answer maybe, may it occasion an experience of GRACE: the practice a measure of GRACEFUL GIVING and RECEIVING. One that goes over and above our over commercialized, secular, manipulative and mathematical “gift economy”.  


“To give and then not feel that one has given is the very best of all ways of giving.” 

- Max Beerbohm


Be courageous enough to THINK DIFFERENTLY, to stretch beyond convention and soon, you’ll be among the few who have behaved differently and made the world a better place; a place of grace! THINK RADICALLY!      


“The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands.”

-Robert M. Pirsig








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Conrad Rozario is the founder of Alchemy Resources, a cutting edge human potential and peak performance development company in Malaysia. He has more than 15 years experience in people development from the diverse fields of Sales, Marketing, Customer Engagement and Service, Business Management and Talent Development. He is a Certified & Licensed Neuro Semantics and Neuro-Linguistics Programming (NLP) Trainer from the International Society of Neuro –Semantics,USA, a Master Practitioner in Neuro Semantics and NLP (ISNS,USA) and a Language and Behavior Profiling for Coaching Practitioner. He holds a MBA fromGordon University,Illinois,USA.