Sharing your journal can help you translate your deep inner life to others and feel seen.
Does the idea of sharing your journal with someone fill you with panic?
If you answered “yes,” you’re not alone. Many people have traumatic memories about others reading their journal; the fear of this happening can be an obstacle to beginning a journal in the first place.
As introverts, that fear may be amplified. We relish our solitude, using that time to channel our private thoughts through an array of creative or self-reflective outlets. The thought of that private “space” becoming public may feel terrifying.
I can certainly relate. When I write in my journal, I feel free to fully express myself and I’m not editing or thinking at all about how someone else might perceive my thoughts. But that very fact is the reason it can be powerful to share your journal with someone.
Someone Secretly Read My Journal… And It Brought Us Closer
Throughout high school, I kept a daily journal, recording everything that happened to me along with my thoughts and reflections. When I went away to college, I left this journal at home (not sure what I was thinking!), and I later learned that my younger brother read it while I was away (classic little brother move).
If I had found this out at the time, I probably would have been mortified. But instead, I learned about it years later and was able to talk to my brother about it rationally. It turns out that reading my journal actually gave my brother more appreciation for my experience, and he came to understand me better — he even admitted that he admired me. Honestly, it’s possible that him reading my journal actually improved our relationship overall. A surprising outcome, right?
I know this is a specific situation with a happy ending and that won’t always be the case. But as an introvert, it did make me realize that there is an aspect of myself that I easily reveal in my writing but which I struggle to share verbally with others in daily interactions.
Is it possible that sharing our journals could help us build stronger relationships with our loved ones?
As I thought about this question, I realized that I’ve done this in some form or another over the years. In college, I passed a journal around with my closest friends, and we each took turns writing our entries. My husband and I did something similar when we were long-distance. I even share snippets of text from my journaling on social media from time to time.
Sharing my journal wasn’t such a crazy idea after all.
3 Reasons You Should Consider Sharing Your Journal
By now, some of you may be convinced, but I’m sure many are still skeptical. Here are three reasons I think this can be a valuable exercise:
1. Our internal life needs translating.
Introverts often have a deep internal life that can be difficult to translate into everyday conversation. While you don’t need to share this with everyone in your life, it can be meaningful and useful to share this internal dialogue with your loved ones. Since journaling lends itself to putting some of those thoughts on paper, letting someone read your journal can give them a glimpse of how you approach things, which in turn could lead to better understanding you.
2. We self-censor in social situations.
As introverts, we are often very aware of the room and others around us. At times this can create self-censoring or only speaking when we are 100% sure of something. Journaling often shows another side. When you’re writing for yourself and not thinking of an audience, you explore and play around with new ideas. Those ideas might be inspiring and interesting to others and spark deep conversation.
3. There’s beauty in being seen.
Being seen feels good. Being seen for your authentic self feels even better. In the right situation, letting someone else read your journal can be a great way to reveal part of yourself and feel that deeper connection.
With all of that being said, there are going to be natural fears that arise at the mere thought of letting someone into your private world. And to be extremely clear, I’m not recommending that you go around sharing your journal with everyone you meet.
This is a tool for building deeper relationships, but there needs to be an element of trust established in the first place. Here are some strategies to consider if you are interested in trying.
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4 Tips for Moving Past the Fear of Sharing
1. Set expectations and parameters.
If you’re interested in sharing your journal with someone, talk to them about it first. Explain what you hope to accomplish and ask them if they are willing to participate in this as an experiment. It’s totally fair to share your feelings if this makes you feel vulnerable. Set whatever boundaries you need to in order to create a safe space.
2. Start small.
Instead of sharing a whole journal or even a whole entry, pick a couple of lines that you’d like to share. See how that experience goes and build from there, if you feel comfortable.
3. Consider using prompts.
Instead of sharing your normal journal or stream-of-consciousness type entries, use some specific journal prompts and share your responses to those. To create an even playing field, you and the other person can agree to both share your responses to the same prompts. If you are doing this with your partner, these relationship prompts can be a good starting place.
4. Remember that most people think about themselves more than you.
This might not seem very comforting, but I find it can be helpful to remember this. While your journal might contain your deepest, darkest secrets and thoughts, it likely won’t carry the same weight for someone else. Others will most likely read it, think about what you’ve written, appreciate it, and move on with their lives. For me, this helps to lower the stakes.
Journaling is a great tool for introverts to explore their thoughts, beliefs, and specific experience of life. In the right situation, it can also be a tool for sharing those thoughts, beliefs, and experiences with others in order to cultivate a deeper relationship.
It’s a way to connect on a more meaningful level and share more of yourself. And who knows — maybe it will help to develop a relationship in a new way or spark some fascinating conversation!