Scared To Tell My Mom about Social Anxiety

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I think I might have a social anxiety disorder. I get embarrassed very easily and of mostly everything. I cannot speak in front of an audience, when I have to in school I usually just don’t do it. I’ve been told I take criticism way too personally (by my mom). I get nausea when something I’m nervous about is going to happen (e.g. when I’m going to gym class because I’m not very athletic and I don’t like people watching me attempting to play a sport). I don’t like crowds, when I’m offered to go to the mall, or a restaurant, or even a relative’s house (that I’m not close to), I usually decline. I’m aware that I’m a very shy person, and should work on my confident issues. But I don’t though if I’m being dramatic about this. I’m scared to talk to my mom about it because I don’t want her to think that I’m being dramatic. And I don’t know why I’m scared because she’s a very good mother, and I’ve trusted her with a lot of secrets. One time she commented on me never wanting to go out with the family and said that I never want to spend time with them. But I do want to spend time with them, I think maybe I’m scared.

A. It is possible that you have a social anxiety disorder, but you may not. Many of your fears are very common. It may be that you lack the skills to deal with difficult or anxiety-producing situations. The good news is that these skills can be learned.

I do not believe that you are being dramatic. It seems that you are truly having difficulty with the situations outlined in your letter. As I mentioned above, many people have similar fears. For example, many people become nervous in front of an audience. In fact, surveys repeatedly show that public speaking is the number one fear.

The trick to reducing the anxiety that accompanies public speaking is to be yourself. Many people try to pretend to be someone else when they are giving a speech. For instance, in the case of a student assigned a topic to present to the class, he or she often erroneously believes that they have to be an “expert” on the subject matter. They believe this is what others expect from them. In reality, no one expects the student to be an expert. Students are in class to learn. You aren’t a professional speaker or a television anchorperson. You are just a student in class and no one expects you to be a professional. That is the reality of the situation. If you hold yourself to higher expectations you will feel anxious because you simply are not a professional and won’t be ready to be a TV anchor when your class has finished and cannot yet perform as a polished professional.

I would encourage you to speak to your mother. Here’s an example of how you may want to present your problem to her: “Mom, I become very nervous in a number of situations (name some examples from your letter) and I would like help to change this. My fears are very real and they are making it difficult for me to feel comfortable in many situations. I have even been worried about bringing this problem to your attention. I was concerned about your reaction. This is a problem that really bothers me. I have considered the possibility that I might need to see a mental health professional. Is this a problem that you can help me with?”

You need to be honest with your mother. It seems as if you may be worried that by bringing this problem to her attention you would be in effect saying that she has failed to help you. Your mother probably would not come to that conclusion. She most likely would react with concern and a desire to help but she first needs to know that a problem exists. Your job is to tell her the truth and to be detailed about the problem. Her job is to assist you in correcting the problem.

I hope this answer helps you. Please consider writing back after you speak to your mother to let me know how the conversation went. I hope to hear from you. I wish you well. Thanks for your question.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Jul 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Scared To Tell My Mom about Social Anxiety. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/07/11/scared-to-tell-my-mom-about-social-anxiety/