You’ve been journaling for a while and now you’re wondering if it’s a good idea to share some of your journal with someone. Maybe a significant other thinks it might bring you closer. Maybe a therapist wants you to share. Maybe you’ve joined an anonymous journal sharing Facebook group. However, you aren’t sure if sharing your journal is a good idea.
So…should you share your journal? There are good reasons both to and not to share your journal. However, sharing your journal with someone you do not trust, sharing information that feels too sensitive to share, or sharing information that can lead to negative exposure, is not a good idea and has the potential to be a traumatic experience.
Some people use journaling to record their life, while others use it as a form of therapy; a safe place to go and express one’s thoughts without fear of judgment. Depending on your preferred journal use, and the context in which you desire sharing your journaling, it may or may not be a good idea to share with others.
Reasons to Share your Journal
While sharing one’s journal is high on many people’s ‘nightmare’ list, it can have some benefits that are almost therapeutic.
Sharing Allows for Someone to Give a New Perspective on a Problem
There are different settings in which one might wish to share their journal: in private or group therapy, with a trusted friend or loved one, or for the purpose of art. Depending on the setting, sharing your journal can open the opportunity for new perspectives.
If you are sharing pages that are musing over a specific problem (like a recent breakup, for example), other people may be able to share similar experiences and wisdom that could help you through the difficult time you are experiencing.
Communication is Difficult for You
Not everyone feels comfortable confronting someone they love or revealing deeply personal, important information. If you don’t think you can look someone in the eye and tell them what you need to tell them, you can always write down in your journal and allow them to read it. This way you can truly articulate your thoughts and emotions exactly how you want to, without it getting messed up at the moment by trying to talk and fear to get in the way.
You Want to Use your Journal as a Part of Artistic Expression
Some people may not be attracted to the idea of sitting next to their friend and letting them read pages from their diary. However, the idea of utilizing their private words in the name of art, does appeal.
If you feel inspired to use your journaling to create a piece of art, that acts as catharsis for you (and potentially for others) then sharing your journal can have a bigger purpose. Most people would cringe at the idea of their private words from their diary being showcased as an art installation – but maybe for you, it’s a way toward freedom and self-expression!
Reasons not to Share your Journal
While sharing your journal can be a potentially therapeutic experience, it also has the potential to be uncomfortable or traumatic. There are situations in which you should not share your journal.
The Person you Wish to Share with is not Trustworthy, Empathetic, or Open-Minded
If you are going to share your deepest, most personal musings, it better be with a person who will receive the words without judgment or retribution. So, if someone asks to read your diary and they are not trustworthy, empathetic, or open-minded, do not share with them.
The Information is Too Private and Sensitive to Share
Some things are not meant for other’s eyes to see. Diaries are for personal use for a reason. It is the place you can feel safe revealing any and everything you feel, experience, believe, question, etc. If you felt free to reveal everything you thought at any given moment, you would do so out loud to the people you love and trust most.
And yet…most people do not do that. Because expressing ourselves without any sort of filter goes against all cultural norms, and would likely lead to you living life as a social pariah. There’s a reason people keep their private thoughts in journals…because those thoughts feel too sensitive, embarrassing, or shameful to share.
Many times, people journal in states of heightened emotion. Right after a breakup, right after a fight, during times of depression or at life’s great intersections. Most people don’t just journal about their excellent, happy days and experiences. Most people journal to work through difficult thoughts and experiences, free from judgment. To say something, you can’t believe you are thinking, but you must write it down to get it out of your brain.
These kinds of highly sensitive thoughts should not be shared. Unless you are experiencing depression linked thoughts of suicide, and sharing feels like a way to prevent yourself from following through with said thoughts.
It Can Open you up to Negative Exposure
Maybe the person you share your journal with seems trustworthy…but then they share something deeply personal about you with someone else. This can lead to a whole can of warms that ultimately leads to you feeling vulnerable, judged, and betrayed.
Not only that but if the information you share is something you hold shame over, that you fear others could use against you, you are opening yourself up to public ridicule. Some things that we aren’t proud of in our past, is stuff we need to work on privately. Not everyone understands recovery and the choice to do better moving forward.
While this is all talking ‘worst-case scenario’ it’s wise to consider. Some people’s lives have been upended from something as simple as a rumor spread too fast and too far.
What if Someone Reads your Journal Without Your Permission?
Journaling is a deeply private exercise. The things one writes in their journal are often entrenched in profound emotion and tend to reveal someone’s innermost personal thoughts, including things like: shame, guilt, regret, jealousy, lustful thoughts, violent thoughts, etc. If someone is using their journal as a therapeutic exercise; a safe place to express their emotions and inner-life without fear of shame or judgment, then the act of someone reading their diary is wrong.
If someone reads your journal without your permission, it is a gross violation of trust, boundaries, and privacy. It is human nature to be curious about the private thoughts of a loved one. It is, however, another thing to take the step to act on said curiosity by intruding upon someone’s private thoughts and read them.
If someone reads your journal without your permission, you need to think long and hard about what level of trust to place in this person moving forward. You may also need to invest in healthier boundaries with that person as well, as a person who would read through your private diary without explicit permission is a person who has severe boundary issues.
The Key Take Away
Sharing your journal with someone is an incredibly vulnerable experience. You are opening the deepest parts of yourself to someone and trusting they will keep that information safe, and not judge you for it. Not everyone has the people or community available to them to share their journal in a safe manner, so most people don’t opt to share.
However, if you feel safe sharing your journal with a professional therapist, group of like-minded journal writers, or someone you love and trust, it can lead to some much-needed healing and/or relief. As, what grows in the dark, dies in the light. Sharing some of your darkest thoughts can take some of the power away from those ideas, and lead to healing.
If someone reads your diary without your permission, it is never okay, and you are right to feel angry, hurt, or violated. Remember, boundaries help create healthy relationships.