As well as the fun and laughter of the Festive Season the intensity of expectations at this time of year can get a little overwhelming. It’s a well-known time for short tempers and tantrums.  To help keep you on an even keel, we like to give a little practical help at this time of year when you’re rushing to meet end of year deadlines and trying to balance work with family and friend time. 

Try using metaphors.

Some people think and talk literally and others flavour their words with metaphor.  A new scientific study measures this difference for the first time. It shows that a preference for metaphor affects how people respond to the world around them and how they interact with others.  Research shows that even if you’re someone who does not regularly use metaphor, adopting this way of thinking, speaking and writing is more effective than using a literal approach to alleviate your negative feelings on troubling topics.

If you’re someone who usually ‘makes rational decisions’ why not try ‘using your head’ instead this year for a calmer, happier time. When the kids are running around knocking things over and screaming, rather than telling them to ‘stop running around’, try a little metaphorical moment with asking them to ‘hold their horses’.  Then you can invite the frosty neighbours around for drink to ‘break the ice’. 

Right, I’m off for a lie down now until the New Year.  I hope you get beyond the thorny issues and find ways to wear a sunny face this Christmas.

Fetterman, A. K., *Bair, J. L., *Werth, M., Landkammer, F., & Robinson, M. D. (in press). The scope and consequences of metaphoric thinking: Using individual differences in metaphor usage to understand the utility of conceptual metaphors. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2015