To REGISTER, LOGIN or access more options, press MENU on mobile.

Doing exposure vs living real life?


Hi everyone.

I suffer from ROCD, but I decided to put this post under pure-O since I think many other themes applies to this.

I been stuck in this “exposure vs real life” thinking for about 2 years of my recovery journey.

each day I say to myself “today I should focus on real life stuff, and not ruminate”. But also, when I get a thought of my trigger (a person I find attractive and my fear is that I love this person and not my partner) I just can’t refocus on real life but instead “just imagine the worst thing, just to see how this feels”.

it’s like I do internal exposure but I do all the time, I expose myself to the thought of liking this other person over my partner, and then I do it again, and again... and so on.
So I’m bit of stuck in this thinking. On one hand I know I should not react to the thoughts when they enter my mind, but at the same time I know I need to to exposure work and face my fear, only that facing my fears becomes like a compulsion for me. I loose track of my real life and it affects relationships and my work.

what to do?


I think the reason you are having a hard time is because this is like an all or nothing approach. Instead go short distances, try to refuse rumination for 30 seconds when an OCD thought comes in. Stay busy for 30 seconds and refuse. Once you can do that move on to 1 min, then 5, then 10, then 30 and so on. You are learning to disregard, it takes practice to get good at this game. Also track the time, I will link it below:

Hi, you have to track how much time you are spending on thinking about this stuff. The more you ruminate the worse it’s going to feel. Start tracking and gradually reducing the time.

I am adding a time tracker:

Wake - 9am - mins

9 - 12 - mins

12 - 3 - mins

3 - 6 - mins

6-9 - mins




Thank you so much for your answer Ali! I will try to postpone the rumination as the thoughts come in.

One other thing. What do you think about imaginal exposures vs real life? Should I do imaginal exposures when I imagine myself being with this other girl/looking at picture of this other girl, or should I just focus on real life?
I want to focus on real life and build a good relationship with my girlfriend, but I'm afraid that I will keep my OCD forever if I don't do proper exposures.

It is so scary, because I'm actually attracted to this other girl and that makes me think that maybe I'm just living in denial and must leave my girlfriend, even if I love my Girlfriend deeply. Sometimes I really feel like I love this other girl and it is not OCD. Then I think of my Girlfriend and I get angry at these thoughts and feelings I have towards this other girl, I don't want to have them!

What do you think?


You just need to let thought come in , you need to replay as Sarcasm.

Just don't focus on thought.  Let it come let it hurt you as much as it can. I will gonna vanish. Try to best focus on your surroundings and what is going on in your life.