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We all know the importance of positive thinking; this year alone, you’ve read a thousand-and-one books, blog posts, articles and tweets on the topic. Pick out your thoughts in the morning like you pick out your clothes – we get it. It’s not that you don’t want to be a perfectly smiley, ever-cheerful, happy-go-lucky person, who spreads positivity all around the office like fairy dust; you just don’t know how.

Understanding the problem is the first step. Why isn’t positive thinking working for you – or for many of us? Why aren’t you releasing feel-good vibes all day, like all the other 1,875 people on your Instagram appear to be steadily doing? What is the blooming hack already?

This is the real reason: Most of us commit to positive thoughts, but still hold on to the negative ones. We’re thinking, “I am talented, I am intelligent, I am strong, and I can do this” as much as, “Who am I fooling? I can’t do this. I’ll mess it up like I mess up everything else”. What we fail to realise is that those two very different types of thinking cannot successfully co-exist; one has to give way to the other to thrive.

Think of your mind as a physical living space. Fact: No two physical objects can occupy the (exact) same space at the same time. To fill a space in the corner of your bedroom, you have to choose between one piece of furniture and another – reading chair or clothes hanger? This morning, you had to decide whether to put on a dress or a pair of trousers. You choose the food that goes into your body every day – whether it is of great nutritional value or not.

The same rule applies to non-physical clutter that piles up in our minds – there’s only room for one. When you realise and understand that a positive thought (courage, enthusiasm, commitment) and a negative one (worry, fear, anxiety) cannot occupy your mind at the same time, then it’s easier to start practicing how to pick out thoughts like you do your clothes – carefully and with consideration.