Thursday, 4 February 2010

Journaling with Honesty

Everyone knows that journals/diaries are private. Everyone knows – even if they put the conscious aside – that no one should read someone else’s private journal without permission. We have this social courtesy embedded in us because we believe that private journals include a person’s most innermost thoughts and secrets. But the question is, how much of a person’s true self is placed in their journals? This question doesn’t require an answer so much as reflection. I have been thinking about this quite a lot recently. I know for a fact that my earlier journals were more of a recording of day-to-day events, and outbursts of feelings, usually negative. But just writing about how you love someone, or hate someone, or are upset with someone, doesn’t mean you are sharing your self in those pages. Unconsciously, I censored what I wrote. Not in everything, but in great many things. I realise that now when I look back. Something that seemed either too horrible to write, or something that made me feel guilty for thinking it, I didn’t write it. Writing down those things would be an admission that one thought those things. But if not written, then it would be forgotten. Lately, since I started making more conscious effort to search for self through journaling, I have begun to change it. If my journals are to be a place for my private thoughts, then they must have all of me – good and the bad. If I am to go deeper in my own mind, attempting to unravel the puzzle of my own personality, then I must understand all aspects of my personality. It has been a gradual progress, but I am getting there. As soon as I question whether I should write something down, I do. If it makes me hesitate whether it should be in my journals, then it should. I have come to believe that no matter what your reasons are for keeping a journal, unless you do it with complete honesty, it defeats the purpose. If you keep it for yourself, for memories, for therapy – what good are those things if they don’t show you the truth? If you keep it as a legacy to your descendants – it would be travesty to give them an incomplete picture, because by doing so you are creating a fake history. By doing so you are lying not only to yourself, but to the future. What is your opinion? How honest are you in your journals?


  1. Oh I can relate to this! I sometimes deliberately hide the ugly, the embarrassing. Sometimes I think it's a good thing to do, if someone is mean, for instance, and I've already dealt with it. SOME of those things may be best to not record because I know I don't ever want to think about them again. But I think this is different from the self-censoring, because then you are sort of afraid of yourself.

    "As soon as I question whether I should write something down, I do." Interesting approach! I'll try that next time :)


  2. Maria,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. It is interesting how you have mentioned not writing something down if you have solved it. I haven't thought about it like that. Though I wonder, if it is significant enough, can we really forget? But certainly something to think about.

  3. I used to pour everything into my journals - and I do mean everything. A lot of emotions that I would never (even still) let anyone actually "see". Thankfully the only person who ever read my journal was my husband - and instead of driving him away (as I was sure at the time it would if he knew about any of it), it garnered a proposal in time.

    But because of that "breech", even though good things came of it, I'm very reluctant to pour my true thoughts & emotions out in any medium.

    That said, I agree with everything you've written - in order to know yourself, you have to acknowledge everything about yourself, even if it's not what you might want to see. Kudos to you for being brave enough to confront yourself...

  4. Jamie,

    In the past, I have showed a journal, once to a boyfriend. And it was fine, possibly because there was nothing bad written about him I guess. However, I know for a fact I would never do it again.

    I have come to realise that if I am to be honest with my journals, honest with my self, my journals must be absolutely private. I had a conversation about journal sharing once with my husband in early days of our marriage. I told him it was a place for me to moan and write whatever came to my head, so if he or someone else were to read it, they might take things to heart that I might have written in the heat of a moment.

    Fortunately, he isn't the type to go poking into people's business, so he isn't bothered about it. But I feel that if you know that someone is going to read your journals, even if it is someone you trust like a spouse, it will affect the writing - even subconsciously. So I save myself that concern.

  5. Maria-Thérèse is like one name :)

    I meant that sometimes I think it can be destructive to dwell on things. Even if you can't forget what happened, it may be easier if it's just a memory than if you go the extra mile and describe it in writing.

  6. Maria-Thérèse,

    sorry. Of course it's one name ..silly me :P

    Yes, what you have said does make sense. For me, it would depend on the situation, but I believe in most instances, I would want the words out of me. Personal therapy!

  7. You know I have questioned this about myself as well.

    Recently I started writing in a journal again to better understand myself, and free myself from supression.

    It turned out my housemate read my journal and everything about her, my partner, family and my darkest desires and secrets came exploding out like a bomb, or a grenaid used at will.

    I'm about to start jounralling again, and this time I hope no one reads it. For me, I need that journal to tell the truth in, to be myself.

    Your blog is an inspiration and an eye opener.
    Thank you for your time.

  8. Temaria,

    I am glad you enjoyed the post, and thank you for taking the time to comment. :-)

  9. Thank you for this post. I have been fighting with this very issue today. I'm in a real debate as to whether to have full disclosure in my journal. I always have but lately situations have made me more paranoid should someone read what I could potentially put down may get me into unwanted drama (which I understand I brought about myself lol). However, to not include all of my thoughts and feelings just felt like I was being dishonest to myself. I loved your advice and I'm going to go ahead and stop trying to censor myself so I don't defeat the purpose of my journaling. Much appreciated. "If I am to go deeper in my own mind, attempting to unravel the puzzle of my own personality, then I must understand all aspects of my personality." - Well stated!!

  10. Knotty,

    I'm glad it helped. Come along to my new home and hopefully, you will find more useful information there.