What If Someone Reads My Journal? Some Thoughts on Journal Privacy

If you keep a personal journal, you know how juicy some of the entries can be. A personal journal is a place for true catharsis, for recording your deepest (and sometimes darkest) thoughts and to sort them out so that they don’t come out in other ways.

A journal is a place where you should feel the freedom to be who you really are and even to push your identity in new ways. A journal can be a playground for experimenting with different ways of seeing the world.

To get the most out of journaling, we don’t think, we just write. And when that happens, we can sometimes find ourselves writing things that we don’t even necessarily mean.

For those of us who keep a personal journal, there is a fear, perhaps, that someone will find and read our diary someday. Or there is a fear that, if something were to happen to us, the people we leave behind would find and read these deepest, darkest thoughts when we aren’t there to defend ourselves or to explain.

There is a profound vulnerability that comes with putting your deepest feelings in black and white.

Here are a few ways that fellow journal-writers have handled journal privacy. See if you can combine these ideas in a way that makes you feel comfortable keeping your own private personal journal.

- When you start a new journal, skip a page and then write a page that expresses your desire for the journal to not be read.

- Use shorthand and abbrevations. For example, if you are writing about something that’s really negative, use code words or first initials to portray the people or events.

- Try recording your thoughts in a file on your computer, instead of in a book. You can then password protect the file so no one else can access it.

- Make a habit of going through this file, or the year’s journal pages, at the end of a month or a year. Write down the insights or the quotes that you want to keep or remember and destroy the rest (either by deleting the file or shredding the pages.)

Of course, if you do this, you’ll miss out on the insights you could gain from reading your journal years down the road. This can be a really beneficial part of the journaling process because you can see how much you have grown and changed. That said, destroying your journals as you go is a process I don’t recommend, but if it is the only way you feel comfortable journaling, it might be worth it to you.

- Keep in mind that your journal is recording your emotional truth, just as it is at the time at which you are writing it. If something were to happen to you and your closest loved ones did read your journal, they would likely see a portrait of you.

It’s important to keep in mind that we all have these dark thoughts and dark times. If someone who loves you were to read it, it might create even a deeper intimacy between you.

Another thing to keep in mind: your journal may be much more positive than you think. Go back and read your journal as though through someone else’s eyes. How do you feel about the person whom your journal portrays? We often think that so much of our journal is negative when that is not the case.

- Use your fear about your journal being read to gain insight into where you might not be being completely honest in your relationships. If you are terrified that your best friend would someday read your journal, ask yourself if there is something about your relationship with her that isn’t being said. Could your relationship with her improve if you showed more of your true feelings?

Nothing makes the journaling process totally secure, but you want to make sure you are comfortable enough with your own level of privacy (and your own system for guaranteeing that privacy) that you continue to journal.

What do you do to ensure your journal’s privacy? Please share your thoughts.

You might also enjoy these Momscape articles
-Personal Journaling: A Tool for the Spirit
-Personal Journaling for Kids