7 Steps to Productive Positivity & Why Affirmations Don’t Cut it!

productivity affirmations positivity

I think when I heard about affirmations, I didn’t really have the right idea of what it was.

I thought I was using them.

But actually, I wasn’t.

So I looked up what affirmations are and  most articles said that affirmations are “used to reprogram the subconscious mind, to encourage us to believe certain things” ¹. 

When seeing examples, these came up as a few:

  • Today, I am brimming with energy and overflowing with joy.
  • A river of compassion washes away my anger and replaces it with love.
  • I am courageous and I stand up for myself.

Although I can see how affirmations could work out for some people, I realized that getting myself out of my own rut (whether that was feeling just a little unproductive or times in my life where I actually pulled myself out of depression, with God’s permission) had little to do with affirmations.

When I read them, I found them to be a bit awkward and unnatural to how I would speak or talk to myself… even when I am being positive.

It was a bit like finding a cute shirt in the store, only to try it on to find that it wasn’t the right cut for you.

Though some of the affirmations were beautiful to read, I couldn’t imagine having to say them to myself and embodying them the way they were meant to be used.’

Therefore, when I thought back to those times that I do needed a boost, I came down to these 7 things that truly helped me out instead of using affirmations:

  1. Use Action-Based Motivation

This is unlike affirmations in a few ways. With affirmations, you’re telling yourself something until you believe it and become it. That is great. But sometimes, telling yourself that you’re full of energy doesn’t actually give you energy.

When I was a teenager and we had moved to Dubai from Cairo, I found it very hard to adapt. One phrase that helped me get through each and every day was a simple:

Make Everyday Count.

I love this phrase.

I hung it next to my calendar and it was one of the very first things I saw every morning.

I love it because it motivated me to do something. To take an action today. And to encourage me to think about the value of action and time.

Instead of affirmations, I would chose a phrase that I could act upon. That I could think, oh I did… XYZ… and that made today “count” for me.

Another good one is: Try Something New.

I like that one because it can be something as small as taking another route home. But it is still something new!

An easy way to keep a record is either to journal your days, or simply use a social media account. I used Instagram and it was perfect.

I loved to take a picture, even of the slightest object in your day that make up your life.

It’s quite fulfilling as well to look at certain things and feel grateful for them!

Which brings us to our next point:

2. Gratitude

By now, gratitude journals are well known. For a simple reason: it works.

When you’re around people who love to complain, or you yourself indulge in complaining too much, this can easily lead to a very dark place in your mind.

But gratitude shed that light in your life.

Of course, as a Muslim, I’m no stranger to the verse:

“If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]” (14:7)

And I’ve always found that to be true.

3. Workout

It’s funny how it was only AFTER I rejected medication multiple times, that people suggested to me to workout at least twice a week.

Just kidding. It’s really not that funny.

It’s amazing what happens to us after a workout. You feel so refreshed and empowered. Your endorphins are pumping and you’re ready to reach for the stars.

And all this without a single word of affirmation!

I started working out at least once a day and it really was up lifting, thank God.

4. Positive People

There was a time in my life where I really had to distance myself from people who had who tended to complain more than practice gratitude. Even if they were close friends.

Sometimes even friends who would make fun of me. In what would seem like a joke, but later were manifest itself in hurtful ways.

I don’t think they are bad people. We all have flaws. But I certainly needed to be in a better social sphere that was more nourishing to my growth and spirituality.

There are always challenges in the world and  in our lives. But it’s so important to think realistically, yet positively. And I believe it is in part of thinking good of God.

The distinct advantage of this over practicing affirmations is that you’re literally surrounding yourself with people who have a great outlook to life and the world around them.

Sometimes telling yourself something repeatedly doesn’t make it feel real. But being around actually people that are being courageous, using their skills and teaching you how to be successful makes it all come to life.

5. Positive Role Models

This was a huge game changer for me. When we have role models in our lives, it’s much easier for us to see the goal at the end of the tunnel. Once you visualize your destination, it’s much easier to put one foot in front of the other.

For me, my role model was Khadijah, the Prophet’s wife, a successful business woman, a supportive wife, and a caring mother. I love her story and it inspires me to become a better person.

I also sought role models in my fellow teacher friends at the time. They were so kind, had so much knowledge, and were active members of our community. They helped the poor and the needy, always talked good about life and others, and had a clear goal of what they wanted their projects to be.

To this day, I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for them! And I am forever grateful for the direction they pointed me in!

6. Pray

I love to say my morning supplications and completing my prayers make me feel so empowered, humble, and grateful. In them, I thank God for another wonderful day and seek His guidance. I also seek protection from anguish, harm, and laziness. It helps me put things in perspective and refreshes my heart.

7. Plan

One way to reduce the pain of not feeling productive is to plan. Also, when you’re feeling in a rut, it’s helpful to plan a trip out with friends or what your next duties are.

Writing them down is key. Because even on days you feel like nothing’s happened, you can see physical proof that there were things that did happen! It helps you feel grateful and empowered. Also, it eliminates the general confusion throughout the days. Especially when you’re a business owner or entrepreneur!


These are some of the tips I use for positivity and productivity instead of using affirmations!

Do you use affirmations? Why or why not?


14 thoughts on “7 Steps to Productive Positivity & Why Affirmations Don’t Cut it!

  1. Some really good points here. I really feel like doing all these 7 things could change your life for the better. I also love the phrase ‘Make everyday count’. So motivational. I would like to start keeping a gratitude journal to write down things I’m grateful for. Thank you for all the tips. #MuslimahBloggers

  2. Great tips – Masha Allah!

    I’v been through a similar process seeking the right affirmations and found some hilarious and others totally unsuitable for my life situation.

    So what I learned to do is create new ones for *me* to encompass my dreams, Duas and goals. And yes, it may feel fake articulating it initially – similar to having impostor syndrome. So it’s best to keep at it and make it a regular (maybe morning) routine. It helps if you can visualize, verbalize and also pen down the words.

    1. Great tips! I’d be interested to know which affirmation work for you! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I agree, I feel like affirmations are a little forced sometimes. But your list is just perfect! One I need to get back into the habit of doing is working out!

  4. I never put much thought into why I don’t use affirmations, it is as though I was introduced to the idea and immediately I knew it was not my thing.

    Your 7 points make a pretty good combination. Jazakillahu khair for sharing 🙂

    As for workout – thank you for reminding 😀

  5. Barak Allaah feeki <3

    You know these posts that just re-affirm the messages that you need to hear and to apply that just come at the right time? This was it. Jazak Illaah khair.
    I personally think that you can benefit from action-based motivation, the kind you talk about on this post, and also verbal affirmations. How we talk to ourselves does matter and does ultimately impact our inner voice. But we don't have to just say them, we can write them down like you did — those are affirmations too! There's a huge variety of ways people can help their emotional and mental wellbeing, the important thing is to start taking steps.
    For many people, including myself, who struggle/ have struggled with their mental health, medication IS a crucial part of their recovery or sustained wellbeing, but that does not contradict taking on board the wonderful tips you have shared — in fact, they sound very similar to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques!

    Great work, jazak Illaah khair <3

  6. Jazak Allah khair for such a beautiful and beneficial post mashaa Allah. I hope that everyone who reads it finds encouragement and positivity from your beautiful words <3 I was intrigued in this article as soon as I read 'Why Affirmations Don't Work' – I am totally on your wavelength on this subject. They might work for some people, but for me affirmations feel like empty words, like you're trying to convince yourself of something even though you're feeling the opposite. I loved your point about role models too – I too find myself most inspired by the model of Khadija, may Allah be pleased with her. Her business skills, parenting, and of course the strength and support she provided to our beloved Muhammad, peace be upon him. What a woman 🙂 May Allah bless you in everything you do sis, I look forward to reading more of your posts inshaa Allah <3

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