Are You Honest In Your Journal?

Journals are private. Everyone knows – even if they put conscience 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 a private journal includes someone’s innermost thoughts.

The question is, how much of a person’s true self is placed in their journals?

This question doesn’t require an answer, as much as it requires reflection.

My early 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.

Subconsciously, I censored what I wrote. Not in everything. But in great many things. I realise that in hindsight. Things that seemed too horrible to write, things that made me feel guilty for thinking them, I did not write them. 

Since I started making more conscious effort to search for self through journaling, things changed. I decided that if a journal was to be a place for my private thoughts, then it must have all of me – good and bad. 

If I were to go deeper in my mind, attempting to unravel the puzzle of my own personality, then I had to understand all aspects of my personality. It’s been a long and gradual process. But now the rule is this:

As soon as I question whether I should write something down. I do. 

If it makes me hesitate whether it should be in my journal, then it should.

No matter what your reasons are for keeping a journal, unless you do it with complete honesty, it’s not completely effective.

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. You are lying not only to yourself, but to the future.

Honesty is the essence of journaling. If you can’t be honest in your journal, you can’t be authentic as a person. Without authenticity, you will never have the contentment of being happy with who you are, and being successful on your own terms. 



Answer this question honestly – how honest are you in your journal?

What effort will you make to be more honest? 


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16 thoughts on “Are You Honest In Your Journal?

  1. Great question, Dolly! I’ve been circling the drain on this topic for several months now. The thing is, I don’t know what I want to happen with my journals after I die. I keep imagining my daughter reading them and, well,,,,,

    You are right, though. I need to be honest. Otherwise, what’s the point?

  2. I agree with JoniB

    Great question

    . . . . and heck who could/would read them? First if they got their hands on them and then when I have no control over them – What could be misunderstoond and cause irrevocable damage?

    It’s one thing thinking about what you put in there that could cause hurt, but also what you don’t write in there.

    Food for thought
    Thanks Dolly

  3. Joni,

    You don’t need to decide right now what you want to happen with your journals. When you know, you know. And if you don’t, so what? Your daughter will know you as a real person – and real people have both bad and good in them. Think about all the diaries we read of people who are now dead. We see a part of them that’s three dimensional.

    Besides your daughter also knows you as you are now, so she isn’t going to judge you entirely by your journals.

  4. Sarah,

    Absolutely agree with you. If people choose to violate your privacy and read your journal, then you should not worry at all about what they might find.

  5. Honesty is the essence of journaling

    most definitely! I think you need to have that space, so much in the outside world you need to censor what you are saying and thinking… your journal is the place.

  6. I actually disagree that you should be completely honest in your journal. Because this is a private space, I think it’s okay to write and “be” anyone you want. Defining what, specifically, should be written in a journal (i.e. being completely honest about something, for example) immediately defines and confines what a person should write, and I don’t think anyone should define those things except the journal writer herself.

  7. I really like this post. I can definitely say that I am more honest now in my journal than I ever have been. For years I would only go so far in my writing, until I came across a book called Journalution, which helped me cross that boundary of fear to write so honestly. I can relate to feeling hesitant to write what I should have been writing in my journal for years. I am so glad to be able to freely write whatever I want in my journal now. It is very liberating to be so honest and it definitely brings out your authenticity in all areas of your life. I am so glad to be able to be myself now. Thanks for sharing this. :)

  8. I’m 80% honest. Or something like that.

    Because of my journaling, I’m aware that there are certain ideas and topics which I’m avoiding. After the idea or topic gets raised enough times, the honesty comes out. This has always been a good thing for me – conscious processing of subconscious worries.

    To crank out the remaining 20%… there’s no easy path I can think of.

  9. JoAnna,

    While I agree with the principle of what you are saying – which is freedom to decide what you want to do – as far as my suggestion goes, I still can’t condone further disillusionment of oneself. There will be some subconscious disillusion anyway, because no one can suddenly be honest about everything, and face every issue they have. Also, I advocate journaling on this blog as a tool for self growth, and you can’t grow unless you do take ownership of your own believes, which comes from honesty.

  10. Lynda,

    I think we’ve all been there. When we do have serious issues in life, the hardest part often is admitting it to ourselves. You are right….it is liberating. Once you can admit it, accept it, then it often liberates you to take action.

  11. Amit,

    The important thing is that you already know that you are avoiding certain things. And that’s fine. We can’t be ready to face all our issues at the same time. Sometimes you just need to take time. It’s not an easy path – but then most worthwhile things aren’t :-)

  12. That’s why I, back in the fall, went through my 20 year collection of journals, tore out pages and quotes and pictures (etc) that were more important to me than anything else, and then dumped what was left of those journals into the nearest dumpster. I have the stuff I saved in a folder and am gradually working bits and pieces into both a smashbook and my daily journal. It’s been an adventure. But it’s also bee wonderful to get rid of all the crap!

  13. I agree on the sense of being honest in your journals, but after I went through my back log of journals that stretched to 2002 (all others were destroyed), I found myself thinking that although I was honest, if I were another person that may read these someday, I would be frightfully bored! I decided to take only the important entries and combined them into one book through a self publishing site I favor. Once that was done (it took two years) I began a new journal to commemorate the occasion with the promise to myself that I would only journal if it was worth remembering. But now, almost ten months later, I have itched to write how I used to. Honestly. I feel now in hindsight, that I feared coming across as boring and whiny. But now, I realized…who cares? Journaling was always a therapeutic tool for me since childhood. A place for escape when I had nowhere to go. I guess I taught myself to be honest at the very least there. Who cares what someone else may one day think. It’s not up to them.

  14. Ellie,

    Precisely! Who cares! If you are journaling for an audience, then it makes sense to write things that you think are only interesting. But then that’s a creative project, not necessarily absolutely honest journaling. There is nothing wrong with that. But if you are intending to keep journals that reflect you as a person, and just use that as a vehicle for your personal development, then it’s irrelevant how boring or interesting they may be. They just need to work for you.

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