Wednesday, June 9, 2010

An Imaginal Exposure Script for Indecision OCD

I'd like to share the Exposure script I wrote for indecision about what to do with my time. What worked for me in this script was including my feared consequences for choosing the wrong task, which was both fear of being haunted by the mistake, and discovering I was a bad person, and listening to it repeatedly until my anxiety level came down. When a feared consequence is related to something as essential as a person's worth or right to exist on the planet, it really helped to have a therapist who challenged those old beliefs I held, those remnants of pain.

Script for Weekends/Free Time, 5/12/07

What if I should be doing something else? What if I choose the wrong task to do first? What if this anxious feeling in my chest doesn't go away? What if no matter what I do, I have this dread on weekends and during free time? OCD tells me I must make the right choice or I will be filled with regret. I will not see the fruition of any of my dreams--to be an artist, have a business, to enjoy my life with my husband. OCD demands I follow a rulebook in order to get what I want, but the rule it has for is "Obey me." If I enjoy my day OCD says, "You're not doing anything important, you need to save the world, people are suffering." If I don't enjoy things, OCD says, "YOu are a bad person since you can't enjoy the privileges of your life. You are a complete f---up." In order to get better, I will have to accept the risk that I'll make wrong decisions, because there is no rulebook. No human being knows all the ramifications of each and every decision, and I need to practice moving through my day under my own power, even if it means I have less enjoyment than I would if I wasn't anxious. OCD is stealing my life, and stunts my dreams. I may be spoiled, ungrateful, privileged. I may be incapable of sustained pleasure and achievement, but my behaviors do not determine my worth as a human being.


  1. Thank you for your blog. I feel like I could have written it myself. I always had OCD tendencies as a child (obsessive list making, starting to cry in the cereal aisle because I felt "stuck" there and unable to choose or leave, etc.). But since 9/11 almost 10 yrs ago (!) it has gotten worse. But reading your blog tells me I am not crazy, I just probably have some form of OCD. I wish you the best of luck dealing with the horrible checking illness and thank you for your caring and sharing with the rest of us.

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience! I am always gratified when something I write resonates with someone else. I went for many years assuming there was something uniquely wrong with me, and it was a relief to find other people who understood. I have been stuck in grocery aisles, and know how frustrating that can be. I hope you keep reading and commenting.

  3. I relate so much. Thanks for the script.

  4. Virtue Friend, I am glad the script was helpful!