How to get the mind you’ve always wanted in 9 steps

We know a positive attitude is the key to happiness, but how can we achieve it when those pesky negative thoughts won’t go away? Easy – just follow wellness guru Shereen Oberg’s nine-step plan

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Step 1


We usually associate negative thoughts with feelings of anger and annoyance directed at something external to us: traffic, maybe, or noisy neighbours.

These, however, are not really negative thoughts but rather superficial irritations that mask the real issues. The negative thoughts we need to work on are the more subtle, deeply ingrained ones that we have about our own lives and how we perceive ourselves. These are the thoughts that can make us feel powerless and weak, or tell us that we are not good enough as we are.

The trouble begins in childhood. We are conditioned, from a very young age, to listen to and learn from adults, which helps keep us safe but also means we can inherit negative belief systems without even realising it. Traumas experienced by our parents, siblings and close family or friends are projected on to and absorbed by us.

These feelings of lack of self-worth, since we’re not consciously aware of them, build layer upon layer. It is only when we learn to peel away these layers of inherited beliefs –to identify those thoughts we have about ourselves and our lives that are not our own – that we can start to overcome them.

Step 2


All thoughts – positive or negative – tend to fall into one of the following categories…

  • Thoughts about the past (recalling a person, situation, place, event or emotion).
  • Thoughts about the future (what we plan to do or what might happen).
  • Thoughts about ourselves (self-image and how we act).
  • Thoughts about others (how they compare to us, what they’ve done to us and think of us).
  • Thoughts as reactions (to what we see or experience).
  • Thoughts of creation (ideas and visions). Take a moment to categorise a few of your thoughts – writing brief notes can be helpful here. This ability to categorise will come in useful in step four.

Step 3


Unconscious negative thoughts commonly create a generalised feeling that you are lacking or failing in some way. Your conscious mind tells you that you have everything you need – that you should be happy and content – yet still that unconscious negativity undermines the message: you need to work more, give more, eat less, exercise more, be a better partner…

The root of these subconscious thoughts may be that during your childhood you experienced a lack of love, attention, your parents’ time, self-worth… Or it could be that you inherited them from the adults around you in your formative years.

Whatever the cause of them, you have the power to change your subconscious thoughts by recognising them for what they are. The subconscious is like a storage unit in which we retain the accumulated thoughts of our life. Sometimes they can help us on our journey, but sometimes they need to be cleared away to make room for something more useful.

Step 4


Once you have accepted that your subconscious mind is storing all manner of inherited negative thoughts, you can begin to shine a light on them – and transform them into positive ones.

Do the following practice throughout the day while you are active and also in the evening when you come to stillness, maybe before going to bed. Try to notice whether the thoughts are primarily in one category or whether they are spread out.

  • Set the intention to become more aware of your subconscious thoughts.
  • When a thought arises, and you are conscious of it, observe it and take notice of it. Maybe write it down and categorise it. You can write your thoughts down immediately to remember them or jot them down at the end of the day.
  • As you are writing down a thought, notice whether there is another underlying thought – maybe an even deeper, subconscious one – that is fuelling it.
  • Try to make this practice as natural as possible to really start mapping the different types of thoughts that arise, both conscious and subconscious.
  • Begin by mapping out your thoughts around five times a day (increase the frequency once you’re feeling more comfortable with the practice).
  • Then take this to the next level by figuring out where the thoughts are coming from and finding the root of when they started.
  • Now divide them into two different categories: empowering thoughts and disempowering thoughts.

Try to be aware of how your emotions and actions are affected and ruled by these subconscious thoughts.

Step 5


We can’t just override current thoughts and mask them with positive ones. We have to find stillness within, aware of all the noise and voices, to create a healthy and empowering state of mind. This helps us to better observe and control our thoughts. To achieve this stillness, try the following…

  • Sit or lie down comfortably, with your palms up, in a quiet space.
  • Close your eyes and relax.
  • Take three deep breaths in through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
  • Set the intention to still your mind.
  • Become aware of your body and start relaxing, from your head down to your feet.
  • Wherever you feel tension, direct your breath there, until you feel relaxed and heavy.
  • Bring your awareness to your mind and thoughts: what is circling around there?
  • As a thought arises, notice it, observe it, and release the need to think it.
  • Let your mind be quiet; come back to stillness.
  • Continue this process for at least ten minutes. Every time a thought enters your mind, simply acknowledge it and then return to stillness.

With practice, you’ll notice that thoughts arise less and less frequently, and it becomes easier to release them and create complete stillness each time. Just like training for a marathon, mastering your thoughts takes practice, patience and persistence.

Step 6


We don’t always notice how the conversations within our mind affect us, and we tend to gather false knowledge about ourselves. This can be about how we look, talk, act or just how we are, and these thoughts start limiting us. We try to be something or someone that we are not.

Conversely, affirmations are words that state something good within us and help guide our minds towards more positive thoughts. Think of them as the tools that help us rewrite the coding of our mind to strengthen our positive thinking.

Affirmations can be very simple and contain just one or two words, or they can be more complex and formed of whole sentences. The key factor of affirmations is that they begin to create an effect when we repeat them. The more we empower our mind with positive thoughts, the more positive we feel and act, and the more positive things happen.

  • Choose a set of affirmations from the box (see above) and practise repeating them to yourself in the morning when waking up and at night before going to bed.
  • Dedicate yourself to this practice and create time and space for it. It could be just for five minutes each time, or during a daily ritual such as showering, walking, running, sitting in nature or whatever you can fit in to your day.
  • Each time you do the exercise, repeat the affirmations at least three times to let the positive messages penetrate. Continue for one week.
  • For subsequent weeks, choose a different set of affirmations and repeat the process, affirming them to yourself in the morning, throughout the day and in the evening.

After a while you’ll notice that instead of negative thoughts popping up, these affirmative thoughts will suddenly appear, in the same way a song can get stuck in your head. This is a sign that the affirmation is working and that it has replaced other negative thoughts. You can also use positive affirmations consciously, to replace negative thoughts directly as they appear.

Step 7


Thoughts can evolve from simple words and inner conversations to imagery and visualisations, which are a powerful tool for positive thinking.

To experiment with the impact of visualisation, start by picturing a positive memory in your life. Sense how it feels in your body. Then picture something negative that has happened in your life and sense how that affects your emotions and feelings. You can also try visualising positive things you want to create to see how that feels and, conversely, visualise something negative or something you fear will happen to see how that feels.

The key to creating more positive visualisations is to first find balance and then to start outweighing the negative visualisation with the positive one. In this way we can begin focusing our minds on the things we want. This is a powerful way of planting seeds to create a more positive outlook.

Step 8


This practice is very simple: think about things you’re grateful for early in the morning, or before going to bed. This programmes your mind to focus on what’s beautiful in life and creates more of that beauty.

Step 9


Negative thoughts are commonly exacerbated when we start comparing and competing with others. This is a particular problem as social media bombards us with the perceived perfection of others’ lives. When you feel dragged down by feelings of inadequacy, come back to the previous steps.

However, remember that the aim isn’t to ban all negative thoughts or emotions, instead what you are trying to do is become aware of them in order to embrace them, work with them and – ultimately – transform them. After all, our journey through life is not about avoiding our shadows but about meeting them and being able to see the positives behind them.

Voice your positive thoughts

Affirmations have the power to transform your thinking. Choose a set from the list below and practise daily


  • I am safe
  • I am stable
  • I am strong
  • I am grounded
  • I am protected


  • I am loving
  • I am loved
  • I am worthy and deserving
  • I am perfect just as I am


  • I am healthy
  • I am strong
  • I am vital
  • I am supported


  • I am strong
  • I am great
  • I am powerful
  • I am in control
  • I am stable


  • I am always surrounded by love
  • I am always loved
  • I am loving
  • I am deserving of love
  • I am attracting love

This is an edited extract from The Law of Positivism by Shereen Oberg, published by Hay House, price £10.99. To order a copy for £9.34 until 9 August, go to or call 020 3308 9193*. Follow Shereen at @lawofpositivism