The easiest way to explain the saying “Anxiety is not a fear of a thing, it is a fear of the way you think about a thing” is to return to our elevator example.
If we were to perform therapy on a person with elevator phobia, would our goal be to change the elevator, because it is scary, or to change the way the person thinks about the elevator, because they think it is scary?
Our best bet is to go with the second option because there is no way to change an elevator, it will always be an elevator.
Instead, what really needs to change is the way you think about the elevator. Your thoughts about the elevator, and nothing else, are preventing you from getting on the elevator. If you thought differently about the elevator, then you would probably ride it, but because you have fear-based thoughts about it, you avoid it.
So the goal of therapy is to help you change the way you think about the elevator so that you will stop avoiding it and instead ride it and learn that you can handle it and need not fear it.
Our feelings influence our thoughts, which influence how we behave. So, if we change how we behave, we thereby change our thoughts, and then our feelings will be challenged and will change as well.
And that is how to treat OCD.