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Our esteemed guest today is Relationship Coach and former High Noon director John Williams! John and Sammy discuss why good people fall into bad habits, the struggle to gain self-love, and how we can start building true relationships with others.
- Why do good people do bad things?
- Why can good people be especially vulnerable to dangerous behaviors?
- How does a lack of self-esteem contribute to bad habits?
- What feelings drive people to make bad decisions?
- What questions can we ask ourselves to begin the process of self-improvement?
Andrew Love: Hello and welcome back to Love, Life and Legacy, a podcast that helps you build sexual integrity and helps you navigate through these hyper sexualized times of ours. And in today’s podcast, Sammy, who just so happens to be the present director of High Noon, is interviewing the first and former director of High Noon, John Williams, who has a bunch of credentials. But more importantly, he’s helped hundreds of people overcome their terrible and self destructive bad habits and help them navigate through their traumas and their shortcomings of the past so that they can just simply learn to love themselves, be loved, so that they can love others. So it’s an amazing interview. And they go deep into answering the question, “Why do good people do bad things?” If you’ve ever wondered that question, well, this podcast is definitely gonna help you find the answer. Enjoy.
Sammy Uyama: Welcome everybody to another episode of Love, Life and Legacy. I’m together here with a very special guest, Mr. John Williams in Seattle, Washington. Hello, John.
John Williams: Hi, Sammy.
Sammy Uyama: I’m so excited to share you with everybody, because you’re just one of the most especially remarkable men that I personally know. And especially in this area, this topic of sex; so knowledgeable and has so much wisdom to share. So it’s really a treat and an honor. Just to share a little bit about your background with people so they can get excited about meeting you as much as I am. So you’ve worked, you have your education in Marriage and Family Therapy. Right. Currently, you’re a licensed Mental Health Professional… mental, how do describe it?
John Williams: Mental Health Counselor – you can call it that.
Sammy Uyama: Mental health counselor. Currently, you’re working in an Addiction Recovery Facility.
John Williams: So it’s addiction and depression, anxiety – all kinds of mental health issues. It’s a place where people live for, they stay there for about four to six weeks and have intensive therapy groups, nutrition, acupuncture, all kinds of multi-dimensional approaches. But many people come who are suicidal, as well as having all kinds of other issues.
Sammy Uyama: So you have, so that’s currently what you’re doing is you as, you are with people with, during what I would imagine is a low point in their life.
John Williams: Yes.
Sammy Uyama: And they they are, I guess, checked into the facility and they have a multifaceted recovery and well being approach and you’re a part of that, that process?
John Williams: Yes, I’m so happy to be part of a team. So all of us are helping these individuals and it all, you know, that if I don’t know what I’m doing then someone else does. So it all works together well, and I’m learning from them as well. It’s great.
Sammy Uyama: And then prior to that, then and currently even you worked extensively with people involved in and many regarding their use of sex. You’ve worked with people experiencing infidelity, compulsive pornography use and other personally unwanted sexual behaviors. Right? And then so you’ve had a lot of experience in this, in this world of sex and the underlyings of what makes people tick and what makes it, what causes, what kind of drives people towards this kind of behavior.
John Williams: Yeah, I mean, I also work, used to work with helping you know, young people prepare for marriage and understand about how to initiate sex, you know, how to ease into sex and stuff like that. But, but yeah, you can say yes, I work with people who are getting in trouble, you know, because of sex. And it’s particularly shameful and embarrassing so it’s not easy, not easy for them to bring it up. It’s not easy to work with it because it’s so filled with, it’s so potentially filled with shame and lots of well, you know, lots of potential to destroy marriages and mess up families and stuff like that.
Sammy Uyama: So I think that’s, you’re so perfectly apt to do this kind of work that you’ve invested so much into understanding healthy sex, and you know, what is the ideal of sex meant to look like. And then equally invested so much into understanding the process, how to take people who are as far away as that vision of healthy sex as you can imagine, and how to bring them towards this. It’s really remarkable.
John Williams: Well, yes, I just, at any point, I, I know that I have colleagues. You know, some of my friends that in some ways are, have, have done even more extreme things than this and are really, really skilled. But I think one of the things that, at least in my experience, I think it also helps that I feel like I’m in a position to explain it sometimes better than other professionals. Because I, just because I’ve been involved with education and working with, you know, with, with young couples a lot. So, I think that’s one of my strengths is I can sort of bridge between those who have never done anything like that and, and those who are, in fact working with people in extreme situations like this.
Sammy Uyama: And, and there’s, so there’s many things we could talk about. Then the one particular topic I wanted to dive into with you was a lecture that I heard you give recently titled, “Why Good People Do Bad Things”. And for me, this is just so remarkable. And it was many months ago and it stuck with me still. This content, this concept and all the things you talked about that… so that, that in particular is what I wanted to share with people. And so without, you know, allowing myself to be a horrible interviewer by just leaving you with such an open ended question; so why do people, why do good people do bad things?
John Williams: Well, I think I’ll… let me begin the way I did that time when I gave that presentation because we want to get concrete. What do you mean good people doing bad things? Right? That’s the first thing just to think. Think… I think of, I think of a young man, for example, in his 30s and he is a very conscientious guy, strong Catholic. And he grew up in a large family and they’re all very connected. You know, like, he’s, he’s part of it. He’s embedded in a very loving, caring group of siblings and parents. And he was a manager at a store and he was just very, you know, highly respected, got nice, and when you meet him he’s a really wonderful guy, like very kind, likeable. And here he was, basically, every night he was tuning in for hours to have, like I guess you call it, Skype sex, but that way cyber sex, with teenage girls – underage girls. And he eventually was caught. And when he was on, anyway, it was illegal. He was busted. He went to jail. And I worked with him before and after jail. It’s so hard to imagine how someone like this could do this. Right? Or how about the dad, wonderful pastor, a businessman, wonderful family man. Everyone loved him. Well known, wonderful reputation in his church community. And then he ends up having, in middle age, with adult children; again, just fine, upstanding member of his church community and community in general. And he ends up having an affair with some stranger he met when he went to a convention out of the country. It’s impossible. And it just exploded his marriage. And you know, the marriage is still together, but it was just a huge mess for his family. How is that possible? And then I think of another guy, wonderful. Also a wonderful guy. I mean those, both of these men are immediately likable people, right? And then I think of another guy who was a religious educator, a member of a, like a religious center for his whole community. And he was working in kids’ programs, adult programs, he was in charge of all of it. Highly devout person himself. And good family man, loves his little kids, good, loves his wife, super religious. And yet, he found himself also watching pornography constantly and doing voyeuristic activities that were just downright illegal. And it’s just so hard to imagine. And I’ve met others, I’ve met other people, but all of them variations of the same thing. Really find people who find themselves sucked into some sexual misbehavior that is really dangerous on every level. Dangerous for their social, emotional, spiritual family life. And so that’s the question: how can we explain this?
Sammy Uyama: Yes. Wow, thank you. Thank you for that, that extra introduction explanation. It’s really well put, it’s, um, especially these kinds of behaviors that you describe about, I think, you know, especially me when I think about what kind of people do these things?
John Williams: Yes.
Sammy Uyama: It’s like either they’re just like some, just horrible, dirty person. And that’s just like how they are in every part of their life.
John Williams: Right,
Sammy Uyama: Right. Or even something like oh, they’ve… or generally that, right? It’s just, it’s not compartmentalized. It’s just brightest. They’re just dirty everywhere.
John Williams: Disgusting, rotten people who don’t care.
Sammy Uyama: And, but the reality is, and what you face, well, you faced countless times, is that it’s possible, it’s possible for really incredible people to somehow get wrapped up in these kinds of really unexpected situations or unexpected behaviors, right? And so then, you know, seeing that these are like real life stories. I imagine someone then that’s what so many people wonder, how is that possible?
Andrew Love: Yeah, you can imagine.
Sammy Uyama: I can’t explain.
John Williams: Yeah, yeah, it’s true. It’s, it’s, um, in other words, we can theorize about or we can imagine such people have horns and they’re green. You know, they’re monster people. But then it turns out, wait a minute, what happens when it’s your, it’s people, you know, people you’ve met. It doesn’t make any sense. And that’s what the thing is, like you say, it’s easy to demonize such people, but then we find out (inaudible). And what’s really ironic, I think about another guy, and not that it’s dramatically different, but I can’t help but think about another guy who’s a school teacher, youth pastor, family, devoted family man. In fact, he was so devoted that he did the lion’s share of all the household chores. Because his wife was kind of, didn’t like to do that, kind of depressed. So he was like doing, you know, two thirds to three fourths of home activities, volunteering at church a lot, taking care of his young kids, and then a school teacher. So when you think about it, there are no better people in the community than something like that.
Sammy Uyama: Right. Yeah. It’s not like, it’s not like these people are pretending or you know, it’s not like a cover up for they’re actually bad people that are putting on a front.
John Williams: Right.
Sammy Uyama: Generally people who want to contribute to their communities.
John Williams: Yeah, right. Yeah, exactly. Like all of these, all of these guys are top level highest quality, finest citizens that you can have. I mean, really like the pillars of the community, really.
Sammy Uyama: Yeah.
John Williams: Everyone would say we need to have a hundred more of them and then we’ll be okay. And yet they found themselves getting involved with this kind of, you know, scandalous activity that was destructive in every way. So it would… what’s ironic about it is that often it’s exactly these people who end up in these situations. Like how does that work? But there’s actually a, there’s some connection, because often the people who are a lot of times the people who are the most sacrificial, the most unselfish, the most giving and the most dedicated to their highest values; often these are the ones who get themselves into trouble. And that so the, the allure, the allure of things like sex; again, I’m trying to figure out the best way to kind of unroll the explanation, you know. Like which angle they come in on. But let’s just say a lot of times people who are the most dedicated are also the most unable to take care of themselves. And so they end up emotionally starved. And in many cases, a lot of these sexual activities, which I know is so appealing to many of the listeners is that, especially masturbating, looking at porn, and things like it; all in that same vein, are, they almost become like an extremely fast, efficient way to get pleasure, to get affirmation, to get a jolt and a change of mood. It’s like a very, it’s a very efficient way to, to take a little mini vacation when you’re stressed, overworked, under-appreciated, not feeling loved, all of that. And, and that’s how a lot of these guys get sucked into it. Many times they, there was a part of them that would say, when we would where he, you know… they didn’t like what they were doing. But as they tried to stop, there’d be a voice in them that would sometimes cry out. Well, darn it, this is the only thing I got, the only thing for me. So they were just too, they were giving too much and they weren’t taking care of themselves.
Sammy Uyama: So is there, is that, is giving a little bit of a lost cause? What’s the balance?
John Williams: Well, yeah, the point is, in those cases, I had to teach them about self care. But it, but it’s ironic that in other words, even the, it’s ironic that if we don’t have a sense of balance in our life, even if we’re ultra conscientious, and giving a lot of times, we don’t realize how emotionally empty we are. And we can’t give what we don’t have. And so what I feel in many of the cases of these, these people, if you tried to figure out what they would come to me, by the way, not to mention their wives, if they were married, but they would come to me saying, why am I doing this? Right, of course. And so we would, inevitably, I would delve into their hearts and their lives and their backgrounds, and we would find out that they have, many times, there’s a lot of emptiness, in terms of their heart, from the very beginning. A lot of times the needs we had; we come to our marriage, we come to adolescent life like in our 20s, looking for a mate, or at least looking for some aspect of having a mate, like just having casual sex. But we look for some connection with a partner in our late teens and 20s. But before that time, we had a period where we were looking for friends, desperately needing friends, right? You remember it was like when you were in seventh grade, right?
Sammy Uyama: Oh, yeah.
Andrew Love: I mean, you want to fit in so bad. There’s nothing more important, right? And before that, we are desperately looking for the love of our parents. And would often we would find out when we asked these fellows what’s going on, is it was not never surprising to find out how many of them had, had very, had some unhappy experience in terms of love with their parents, and possibly with friends. It was those two areas of love that are so important to make us happy and feeling valued and feeling our hearts filled. They had some bad experience. A lot of times, nothing bad happened. Sometimes, because they were just outright abused, right? And they tried to gloss over that and they tried to say it wasn’t that bad. You know how you do. It wasn’t that bad, you know. I have nothing to complain about. I don’t want to just feel like a victim. I don’t want to feel like I’m, you know, feeling sorry for myself. Right? And so they kind of gloss over it also. It’s just, it’s just… what he’s supposed to do about it, you know? And then sometimes they had bad experiences with their friends. That is, during the young years when trying to connect, let down they weren’t popular enough, they didn’t have enough friends. Maybe they were betrayed by a girlfriend or something like that. And they had heartache from that, too. And what we find is that these needs of the heart for parental love, for nurturing for care, and for friendship – if they don’t get satisfied, they become sexualized after puberty. They can become sexualized. And we end up, the drive for sex and for that kind of physical union with somebody sort of carries the entire freight of need. And that’s why because sex is such a good substitute for love, it’s such a nice, it mimics love so well. That’s how many guys end up meeting these needs with pornography or something. You know, masturbating, looking at porn, having sex with, with girls just randomly. All those kinds of things they can make, they can help satisfy those needs emotional needs. The bottom line, Sammy, is that all of the sexual activity is ultimately trying to satisfy an emotional need. And so we have to recognize our emotional need. And then we have to get that need met. And then this other stuff doesn’t become as compelling.
Sammy Uyama: So is, is all the altruistic behavior that people, do you know what these kinds of people are doing as well, is that also trying to, something to seek out and fill that hole that’s been left empty from the earlier years?
John Williams: Well, you know how it is that… you know how we can have mixed motives to do good? I think all of us have that experience. It isn’t just one thing. In other words, I don’t want to say that people’s altruism is somehow you know, trying to get selfish needs met, but there’s often a mixture. Okay, yeah, no, you know what I mean? Like, um, I don’t feel very valuable, because, you know, people didn’t affirm my value. And so I am trying to prove to myself that I’m lovable and worthwhile. I also, I didn’t get, I didn’t get a lot of affirmation from the people important in my life. But I learned that by being a people pleaser, that I could get people to like me, and I don’t know how to handle conflict. So I, I just try to go along and then people like me. And so you become someone who is, tries to satisfy other’s needs because it helps you feel important and valuable, and it wins their affection. So, you know, a church, for example, loves people like this. Right? In other words, anyone who’s looking for volunteers, you know: a school organization, anyone’s looking for volunteers, loves people who feel the need to prove their value and satisfy those kinds of needs by helping others. And so a lot of times these people will… so I had, I knew people who, when I really asked them what was going on inside, when I really talked to them about how they were living their life, a lot of them had suppressed resentment that they really weren’t admitting. You know what I mean? I’m giving so much and no one gives to me, or I’m giving so much and no one really appreciates it. So they often have a little bit of resentment and that’s why they can feel… that’s why they can feel entitled sometimes to indulge in all kinds of sexual things that maybe they don’t think are really so great, but they often feel like well, I’d have to have something to comfort myself and to make me feel better. So I remember one guy, you know, he, he was watching pornography much more than he wanted to. And it was, you know, one of the things I found out was that he had a hard time sticking up for himself. And so when he would, he was such a nice guy. And a lot of times, he was so angry after encounters with people, because he let himself be walked over. He never voiced what he really wanted, you know? He went yet again to another restaurant that he didn’t want to go to because he wanted to go along and be nice, you know what I mean? And he’s suppressing his anger by masturbating. And he would just go home, and “I don’t like this feeling. I don’t like to be angry. I just feel angry and resentful.” And then he would just… or even people who are working, you know, youth pastors and stuff, they just feel “I’m tapped out. I’m overworked. I’m overused. And darn it, and I’m angry, but I don’t want to feel angry. So I’m just going to go masturbate to feel better.” They also could be drinking. They could have been smoking weed. But that’s often what people are doing.
Sammy Uyama: I’m just going to try to wrap my head around this whole process, right? And so you know, you open with these stories that, so people they, often the most giving and generous, altruistic people; they said that they have a challenge, taking care of themselves. And they’re, they’re often left emptied, right? And so, for me, there’s trying to understand how this makes sense is that if someone were looking to fill something up, then that’d be a really strong motivator to want to be a giving and serving person. Right? It’s very gratifying experience when you really feel that you’re, like, very substantially able to contribute to people. And then if, that, when they always offer, if that is not really it, or that doesn’t fill that thing that you, you subconsciously or that you’re missing; then, then you can, you can become resentful towards, towards a project. Like this is supposed to, you know, I’m giving so much but, you know, I’m not left with anything after it and get frustrated by that. And then turning to this kind of sexual behavior is like, you know, holding on to that. This is the only thing I have to make myself feel better. And I wanted to fill that, fill it that way. So it’s kind of like this process.
John Williams: Can I think that’s true? I think the point is that many people are, have, they don’t love themselves. There’s reasons for that. They don’t love themselves. And they, they, they have low self esteem and they’re trying to earn their worthiness by performance is by by doing things – it doesn’t really work. It just ends up making them feel they have to constantly live up to higher and higher expectations and constantly be rating themselves because they’re not quite doing as well as they should. People with low self esteem, who have been emotionally neglected, a lot of times when they were younger, and trying to win their parents’ approval, you know, that kind of thing, constantly trying to win their worthiness, who don’t understand that they’re unconditionally loved, who don’t feel their unconditional value, they just don’t. A lot of times, that’s why people give too much of themselves. They don’t know how to set boundaries and say no, they don’t know how to take care of themselves. They don’t actually nurture themselves. They often give too much when they don’t have it. They don’t get enough rest. They don’t get enough. A lot of things, they don’t get enough rec, get enough recreation. But it isn’t only these highly altruistic people that are, that we’re talking about, obviously people who are not such sterling, upright individuals who are not quite so obviously dedicated to others, they can still end up in the same boat. A lot of times, there’s just, they don’t recognize their emotional emptiness. And they get, they get taken by surprise. I mean, we can talk about the guy who’s has a porn and masturbation habit for many years ever since he was 13, not realizing how this was his way of coping with emotional emptiness or pain. Serious doubts about his value, serious doubts about his capacity to succeed in life, whatever. But there’s something, if we’re relying upon ejaculation and or the, or the kind of meeting up with girls and having casual sex with them and, and you know, doing our tricks and impressing them and having them be flat, having them flatter us and having the pleasurable experience of having sex with them and feeling flattered and desired – all of that, so much of that is just an exercise in trying to find “I’m worthwhile”. Then someone likes me that someone thinks I’m worth something. That’s why guys get caught up in constantly wanting to have a new girl, you know, find other girls, new people. Because, because you can have that thrilling experience of having some stranger be interested in you, proving you’re worthwhile. But the problem is if we don’t really have self regard and self respect, if we don’t really know our value, it’s a bucket with a huge hole in it. And so even though we do our, you know, we do our little thing, we get her to like us, we have sex proves that I’m a stud or whatever, you know? It proves I’m really something because she was willing to have sex with me. It’s very affirming, not to mention the oxytocin and, and all the rest of it making us feel like we had a loving, intimate experience at least temporarily. But in the end, we all know it’s hollow. We know it’s hollow. She was using me and I was using her. Basically we masturbated with one another. And I didn’t really get an emotional communion I was, that I really needed, but it felt really good. And I’ll do it again. The point, but the point is, it’s like junk food. And it’s not really meeting the emotional needs. The real emotional need is I need to be known by somebody for all of my faults. I need someone to know me as I really am to be really naked, you know, and all my vulnerabilities exposed and discovered that they love me anyway. And that’s what I really need. And, but sex can be a fabulous substitute. So then people caught up in that, trying to deal with their emotional pain, their emptiness, and stuff like that, and using sometimes compulsive sexual activity, and they don’t realize what’s, what’s happening.
Sammy Uyama: Is it really, can it really be, is it really that simple? Is it that I’m looking for I actually am good enough.
John Williams: Yeah, you know, it’s, it’s certainly, part of it being that simple. You know, when you think about any one of using any sensation of pleasure, whether it’s drinking or weed or cocaine, or any of that stuff, these are all artificial highs to cover up something that’s missing. And it’s oh, it’s so often is that feeling of “Am I enough?” I really secretly suspect I’m not good enough. I’m not lovable. I’m not so great. And many, many people have a lot of shame about themselves. They inherit shame from the society around them because I don’t look like this and I don’t look like that. I’m too fat. I’m not as buff as I should be. I mean, men are now as neurotic about their bodies as women have always been, you know, getting that way, right. And so we have a lot of shame. We have a lot of things that are telling us we’re not good enough not to mention social media. So yeah, a lot of it is that kind of stuff. And that’s why when people can feel, when people really know that they’re loved and worthwhile, and they feel valuable and good enough, then it gives us much more freedom. You know, it really gives us the ability to pick and choose what we do and do nothing compulsively because we’re not trying to escape feelings. We don’t like it. I think it really is that simple.
Sammy Uyama: So what’s I got is that if you, if you had these, these, you didn’t experience this when you’re young from your parents or from your peers, then you hold on to it and always looking to fill that. And then that leads to these kinds of behaviors and these substitutes to fill that which I’m hearing sounds like just could sound like just about anybody. This is, a lot of these sounds like things that a lot of people would do varying degrees of…
John Williams: Yes.
Sammy Uyama: …Severe or extremeness, right?
Andrew Love: Yes.
Sammy Uyama: Right. So anyways. So for the unlucky majority, it sounds like that didn’t have these kinds of relationships as their drink growing up in these formative years of their lives. Like what can we do? What can be done in order to, to end this cycle of just looking for the substitute and not finding it and looking for the next thing and not finding it? Is, what’s, is there a process for that?
John Williams: Yeah, I mean, one of the interesting things about when people, one of the nice things about people that sounds really crazy, but it’s true for people to get involved with something which causes them so much disturbance that they have to go; that they, they feel like I really need help. You know, one of the nice things about being in recovery of something, you know that you can identify as needing recovery from is that recovery groups so often meet these needs. Our support group so often meet these needs: the needs to be loved, even with all of my faults and limitations. And that was that that’s part of the answer to the, to the thing, to the issue. A lot of times when people, when people, what are the reasons why people even do things that are sometimes foolhardy is it’s a cry for help. They’re trying, I, there’s something deeply wrong inside. Again, many times people have at least a mild form of trauma from their earlier years they’ve never dealt with. A lot of times people will do foolhardy sexual things almost like they’re looking to be discovered.
Sammy Uyama: Yeah, like a lot of in America, you will be, to look at pornography at work is a huge offense. I mean, they hire you for that but still something so many people engage in.
John Williams: No, it’s very true, almost like daring. Can someone find me and help me? You know, it was very, that’s a good example. Or people, I think of the famous example of David Petraeus, who was the head of the CIA, and an extraordinary soldier. He was called St. David. This is the, this is the story that I find the most astonishing to illustrate the point. I don’t remember what it was, maybe it was or was it 15 years. I don’t know what it was. But he, he was head of the CIA. And one of the most highly respected people in the military probably in decades. And yet, a biographer was trying to you know, write a story about his life. She was a young woman, and they carried on an affair. And they carried on the affair on the public CIA email. On the CIA email. So his affair was, I mean, we’re talking about the CIA. They’re not strangers to screening email and looking for things. So it was the craziest thing. It was as if he was suicidal. You know, like, I’m waiting to be busted. So you didn’t even… so it seems the way he carried on this affair, of course, he had to resign. It was a big blow to the military because they really needed him. But why would he do it? And on the, why didn’t he do, carry it out more secretly? Again, that’s what often happens, like people doing these work. I’m trying, my, my wound is crying out for attention, and you won’t do anything about it. So I’m going to be darn sure that it gets attention. And so this weird thing is going behind the scenes, pushing people to ever more extreme behavior until they get caught, so that they can finally get help, admit they have a problem and get some help. But ultimately, it’s not, I have a problem with sex or it’s really, I have some deep wound in my heart that needs attention. And, and so when people finally do something rather extreme, they finally see a counselor. They get often a kind of deep, a kind of regard and care that they never got. And then they’d be part of a group. And often this is, the most healing thing is that I’m, I’m around people who know the worst of me and they love and accept me anyway. And then you learn to love and accept yourself. That’s often what happens. That’s how people really get profound healing. And so I, what’s ironic is that I tell them this, that a lot of the guys that the people I saw as clients, they would eventually become part of the 12-step group or something. And they often felt so happy and fulfilled and they made such wonderful friendships there of people who are really after their best interests, who were all very honest, you know? No one’s posturing doing the whole “I’m fine” thing, you know. A lot of these men, they have much closer friendships than their friends do who don’t have a problem, ironically, because that’s what we all really need. We need people who love us no matter what, who know who we are and stuff like that, and that’s what heals us. And the sex or the other kinds of extreme behaviors are just cover ups that never heal anything. So, inevitably what I end up doing, I mean, just to get to answer your question, well, what do we do? And (inaudible) I just look for wounds in the past. How many times, there’s quite glaring ones, but sometimes they’re subtle. Like, just having parents that were too busy who never really gave you the attention you needed to know you were important. And, and then we look for the wounds, we work on healing some of those, going back and thinking about them, talking about them, you know? Admitting that they’re really there and talking about them. And then work on developing real friendships, real vertical relationships with elders if needed, where they really know them at their worst and can accept them. And developing healthy self care: hobbies, recreation, a relationship with God and some way of grounding themselves in unconditional love.
Sammy Uyama: Taking care of yourself, addressing the things that happened. This, even how, regardless of how subtle the wounds from the past, yes. And having a, having that experience of being fully, you know, people seeing metaphorically naked; is that what you said, right?
John Williams: Yes!
Sammy Uyama: Be fully seen and then accepted.
John Williams: That’s right. Many times, I mean, when it comes to being fully seen and accepted, it can be the simple thing that I have let my family down. I’d be traded my own values as a, as a husband or a partner or a father, or a member of my community. Remember my faith? Just admitting that to somebody and having people understand that that’s… but that, yeah, I know that. I got that. But let’s go fishing together. Let’s go do this together. Let’s go, let’s talk about something else. Did you see the game? I know you, I know your, your worst crap. And I still respect and regard you and I like you. Let’s talk about the game. I mean, it’s so simple, but it’s profound and how it heals. At the same time, sometimes people have areas of tremendous shame. Like they were sexually abused as a kid. It’s almost blindingly blinding on the shame they have or the way they were mistreated by certain people or their humiliating experiences when they were, you know, teenagers? You know?
Sammy Uyama: Yeah, I mean, I have an experience like that when when I was like four, three, four-ish. I had my preschool friend, boy, and we went behind the shed in his house, and then we, we undressed and we touched each other’s (inaudible).
John Williams: Played doctor, yeah.
Sammy Uyama: That kind of thing. And, and it was such a guilty thing for me for such a long time, really, up until maybe I was 14 or 15. And I was talking, it was a peer friend, and yeah, I’d opened up and I share this with him. And there’s nothing particularly that he said. He’s like, whoa, he’s just like, whoa, I never knew that, you want some ice cream?
John Williams: Yeah.
Sammy Uyama: And, and it was just, you know, he didn’t say anything about it in particular, but just me telling that to somebody. And, and since that point, it was just, it’s completed and didn’t have any hold on me anymore.
John Williams: Right, right. Spell was broken.
Sammy Uyama: Right.
John Williams: And many times people have these kinds of areas of shame that make them feel unlovable so the love of other people can’t penetrate. Because there’s a, especially as men, this is particularly a male thing, by the way. Women, I don’t know what the women equivalent is. But for some reason, us men, we have a very strong sense of whether we deserve love. Whether we’ve lived up to our own standards of deserving love. And it’s partly a matter of how other men treated us, you know, father figures, things like that. But there’s, it’s very clear. It’s one of the things that makes sense. And so many times men who feel unworthy of love, they are immune, almost immune to the tremendous amount of love and some more support they may in fact have around them. And that’s so, so they walk around empty, even though they have family and friends because they have shame. And so like you said, that’s why it’s so important for guys to… but we can be ashamed of many things. We can be ashamed of what we did, we can be shamed of what people did to us and what we think it means about us. You know, somebody’s doing something sexual with us, and many, many complicated feelings about that. But we can have shame about, a bit of shame about our bodies, like I said earlier. And shame about some incompetency, you know. Like, I have some limitation in my mind or something. And so it’s something that makes us disqualify for love. And then we just walk around incessantly empty inside and needy. And what happens is that many times, under the right circumstances, I should say wrong ones when there’s a perfect storm of, you know, you’re a new father. Just the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Like, you know, it could be, I’ve always kind of wondered whether I’m lovable or worthwhile. I’m really a man. I’ve always struggled with this. And then maybe I finally was able to win a woman’s heart and got married. I kind of wonder whether I can be a good husband. And then finally, and then I’m trying to get a decent career, you know, to make money for a family, but I’m not doing so hot. So all this self doubt, right, you know what I mean? And then, because everyone knows, every man knows what I’m talking about, right? The self doubt, the feeling of not really, I’m posturing. I’m faking it. You know, I don’t really know what the hell I’m doing. And then you become a father and that might be just like the final straw. I feel so inadequate. I feel like such a fraud. I feel so unworthy, unlovable. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, you know, with this kid. And that often can be the kind of thing and then somebody shows up, right? So a woman shows up or whatever. And she just thinks you’re so great at her love. Her positive regard for you is so simple. It’s not complicated, like, with your wife, you know when you look at her you feel her love but you feel ashamed and you feel not worthy. But here’s someone who really loves you and thinks the world of you. So uncomplicated. And and it’s just the you know, and before you know, I just need, I, what people say when they have affairs: people don’t have affairs for sex, they never do. Experts say this. It’s never about sex. It’s about I love the reflection I get back from you in your eyes. I love the way you help me think about myself when I’m with you. I feel desirable. I feel worthwhile. I feel like a stud. I feel I’m a man, whatever. And that was what your, your, your your interest is. Helping to to satisfy these needs inside. And I find you irresistible. And then people find themselves doing crazy things. But that’s just an example or I don’t know whether a lot of people go off to some massage parlors and stuff like because they love the way that person, they pay money for that person and that person makes them feel like a million bucks, because in their life, they feel like crap. That makes sense?
Sammy Uyama: Absolutely. Yeah. So I want to, I want to unpack is there’s two things that I think if you can answer that, would be really helpful. So what I’m hearing is that there’s the need to, to open up and to share, share myself, wholly and honestly, with that one. And so how do you find the right kind of person to do this with? Is it you know, it’s like, is there like an appropriate, you know, what were some things to look for that when it’s appropriate and safe or you know…
John Williams: That’s a good question.
Sammy Uyama: …who would I find to do that with? And then also, I can imagine it’s so horrifying and it can be intimidating to think about like, okay, I’ve got these things that I want to, I want to get off my chest. I want to start sharing. So some people, maybe they just like go straight into it, or is there like some kind of primary questions that you can offer that are helpful? Or maybe like, could be something general even that if some people have got the specific thing that they’re like, okay, this is the thing I need to talk about. Some people, they might be thinking, nothing particularly comes to mind, but I would love to have that kind of experience where I feel fully seen and accepted. And so yeah, there’s the two sides. Who’s that kind of person and then what are like some good, maybe primer questions that might be helpful in creating that conversation?
John Williams: Well, that’s really interesting. Your question’s very interesting. Let me start with the first one and then I’ll try to see if I can better understand the second one. When it comes… one of the things that’s, that’s really surprising; I come from, you know, I speak from experience of having, you know, certain things I was ashamed of. Lots and lots of feelings of inadequacy and insecurity about you know, many things over the years. And many of them got better and better over time. I have a wonderful wife who really loves me. But there were times when I wanted to hide things from her because I didn’t trust it. She would love me, you know, she wouldn’t let, wouldn’t love me if she knew this, you know? So, but I, so I come in, I’m coming from an experience of knowing what I’m talking about – the pain of this type of shame. And also the experience of liberation and finally sharing it with someone. One of the things I want to say is that other, there are people around you that are much more accepting of you than you would suspect. That’s one thing to realize that we don’t give them a chance. Because we don’t think they would. But there’s, there are, there’s always people around every person who are more accepting of them, have more love and more capacity to love them than they, than the guy suspects. Okay. We don’t know who it is. But there’s gold in some of the people you know. It’s just that you’re not sure who’s, who, which is which. That’s, because in your own experience, haven’t you had someone share some, you know, weakness or inadequacy or dark secret? And you just thought like you said, Sammy, with your experience, with your friend; oh, gee, sorry to hear that. Or, oh, that must feel lousy. Doesn’t change anything. Wanna go have some ice cream, right? In other words, the same way that we can often hear things from a friend, and we would never judge them for it. We just feel, you know, some sympathy, empathy, right? And so we’re often, if you think about it, we’re often very quite accepting of people whom we like, and love, and nothing could change our view of them. We would just feel oh my god, I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been burdened with this. Right? I mean, that’s our sort of fact is that’s our reaction. And that’s also the potential of many of the people you know, is like that. So the trick with this kind of thing is that you simply practice greater intimacy, you know, using the word intimacy in the broad sense. You practice greater intimacy and test the waters. You share something a bit more personal, and see how they respond. You see how they respond to the people around them. Are they judgmental? In general, are they judgmental? Are they highly opinionated? Do they act like they’re better than others? Or are they humble, compassionate, kind? And then you kind of test, test the waters. You share something a bit more personal. Some of your, you know, even the simplest thing, like your insecurity about work. And then you know, you try that. And you see what they do. And then if they, if they like it, you know, oh, I love your honesty. Then, you know, you know, you found a live one. Right? And don’t you, Sammy, and doesn’t everybody love it when somebody says something quite honest, that you don’t know if you would have said?
Sammy Uyama: Right, yeah, it’s very refreshing.
John Williams: Right? You’re thinking, oh, man, this is so different. This is so refreshing. This is great. Let’s talk about it. Me too, me too. Right? So great. You know, like, as a married man, you know, there are times you’d love to just chit chat with a friend. Hey, you know, I’m having some problems. I mean, I feel like I’m kind of boring with sex with my wife, you know. Having ideas how to, right? You’d love to compare notes. Right? Right.
Sammy Uyama: Right.
John Williams: (Crossltalk) And as you’re doing the podcast. But you know, you’re willing to admit I’m not the world’s greatest lover. Can somebody give me a few tips here?
Sammy Uyama: Right.
John Williams: And somebody else would say, oh, man…
Sammy Uyama: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, yeah.
John Williams: Right. That’s an example. So everyone loves this stuff. You know, everyone loves somebody to be honest and share their weaknesses. And because, because almost all men experience that we’re just kind of posturing. Right? Like, I’m pretending I know what I’m doing, but I don’t know what the hell I want. You know, right. So everyone loves that. So just try it out. You know, you know, to share a little bit about something honest. Just something from work, something from your work, whatever. And then see how people respond. And then when they, when they’re accepting and open, then you keep on sharing more. That’s how you find people. You have to take a little bit of risk, but you don’t have to go crazy. And don’t, and in fact, it is important that you do this process. Because A) you don’t want to find yourself getting hurt by it, and B) you don’t want other people to, you don’t want to, like, you don’t want to spring something on somebody when they’re not really able to handle it. And they feel bad. You feel bad, you feel awkward. Yeah. And you can damage your relationship, right. So, um, but I think we can all, we all had the experience that people sharing a little bit. We responded and we wanted more and then it was good. It helped create intimacy, we feel close to them. Wow, this is, you’re really a close friend now. Try it out. And also even with our parents, and times we can share some of our struggles and find that they respond well. And we feel closer to them. So let’s answer the first question. Okay, that’s great. So the second one is really about I’m trying to to understand better. Do you mean things we can ask ourselves to see what our areas that might be holding us back or…
Sammy Uyama: Or maybe to, yeah, that or just have maybe how to initiate this kind of conversation. So that can be one, how to begin this kind of conversation. But a little more kind of where I’m coming from is it’s kind of for me personally, in my own situation. I’ve, I’ve recently recognized symptoms of my beginning to be, feel emptied, being, being frustrated, like annoyed or frustrated over seemingl little things; things that normally if I was fine, would not have bothered me at all. But then these magnified. And so I got that, okay, that’s probably a sign of, oh, yeah, I can, I can practice this. Right? I could, I could seek this kind of experience of being seen. I’m probably covered and probably pretending something or not being fully honest about something not being, not quite and haven’t really, it’s, there’s nothing sticking out, right? That’s like yeah, oh, that’s the thing. You’re, you’ve been lying. You’ve not been telling the truth about that. And so I’m thinking okay with my wife, she’s someone I trust a lot. And I know would be very embracing and give me a, provide a listening ear, something, okay. What, what, how do I, how do I get this?
John Williams: Right? I think I mean, partly you have to figure out what’s bothering you. right? So one of the simplest things you can do that can be challenging for some people but not so hard for some other people is you need to listen to yourself talk. Because there’s a, there’s a running thing going on the back of your head. like you’d say, running, narrate, narration or something. But it’s, it’s, you want to listen to yourself talk honestly. Like, there’s a part of us that we learn in mindfulness training. It’s a part of us that can pull away and observe and witness. So we’re actually able to, we have the ability to witness our own thoughts. We are not our thoughts that we think we are. But we’re not our thoughts are not our feelings. We have, there’s a part of us that can stand back and notice these things. And it’s something that takes a little practice to do. But the idea is we want to step back and listen to our own thoughts, because your thoughts are telling you the answer. So in the beginning, I asked people, and I say sometimes trying to listen to our thoughts can be a bit like catching a fly. You have to be very still. And you have to just wait ill the fly lands. Very, very still and then (smacking sound), right? So in the same way our thoughts are sometimes like that. We’re noticing that we’re getting crabby, angry, irritable. And then we just need to sit and then get into our observer mode, or eavesdropper mode, and just listen – what exactly am I telling myself right now? They shouldn’t be that, this or shouldn’t be, why the heck are you in so slow, you know, in line or something like that. And so there’s a feeling of what is this saying? I’m believing that things should be different. I’m feeling, I’m feeling… Especially anger is an indication that I’m feeling chipped, shortchanged. My expectations aren’t being met. My rights are being violated. Something’s unjust, something’s unfair. And we have to listen to it to discover what’s really going on. Listen to our, what we’re telling ourselves. But it’s often kind of like under our breath, so to speak. Like it’s very quiet. But it’s a running dialogue. Why the heck can’t people be different? Why don’t people sit down and consider it? What the heck? Will you speed up? What the hell is wrong with you? Who do you think you are, you know? This kind of thing that whatever it is we’re bugged. But there’s some, and behind all that is what am I really feeling? I mean, anger, for example, is like I said, anger is saying something important to me, some important goal is being blocked. Somebody is violating my rights or the rights of someone I love, something I love. And there’s something unsafe and needs to be protected, like anger. It’s the response that I need to get some obstacle out of the way or I need to stop something that’s not right. That’s what anger’s for. If anger is constantly being awakened, then who’s the victim? What is the injustice? What do we feel entitled to that we’re not getting? Or what, you know, what’s wrong that needs to be corrected? And a lot of times, we listen carefully to this. Just one example. A lot of times when we listen carefully, we realize, you know, there’s a voice in the back that’s saying, why is everything so darn, darn difficult? Why aren’t things easier? Why? Why can’t I get what I need? Why can’t? Why can’t I just feel that like, you know, why can’t I be cared for and get more of what I need? And then you have to figure out, what am I missing? A lot of times it’s not easy to figure this stuff out. But if we scan, am I getting enough, you know, am I intellectually stimulated? Am I, am I feeling financially secure? Am I feeling friendship? Am I having enough fun? Do I have enough meaning in my life? Um, and things like that and a lot of times, you know, you can check for four out of six, but there’s some glaring and you know, maybe not having the right, not having enough of the right kind of friends, too much wrapped up in your family. You know, like, that kind of thing. You know what I mean? Too much duty. Not enough fun. Not enough, not someplace where I can let myself hang out. You know, that kind of thing. It’s often that that’s what it is. Does that make sense?
Sammy Uyama: Yeah, thank you. For me it does.
John Williams: A lot of people don’t have enough recreation. They just don’t have enough fun and they often don’t value fun enough, you know, especially when you become a family man. Right?
Sammy Uyama: Yeah, I mean definitely it’s, it’s like I my my wife takes care of our toddler all day and and then when I come home from work, then how dare I want to go bicycle, go play volleyball or whatever.
John Williams: I do. I know what you mean. Absolutely. How dare you? So unfair. And it is, you know, it seems like it’s really unfair. I completely got it. That’s exactly what I’ve experienced, what I experienced. You know, and how dare you watch a movie that’s not Disney?
Sammy Uyama: Yeah, I’m not supposed to want anything.
John Williams: Exactly.
Sammy Uyama: Yeah, take care of my child. And…
John Williams: Yeah, exactly. That’s all I should want to do.
Sammy Uyama: I should, speaking of children, I’m sure. Yeah.
John Williams: Exactly. Yeah. So I should delight in my, my kids. I should want to, you know, love and care for my wife. I should want to make sure she’s okay and take over for her when I get home. I should love all of this and need nothing else. And then it turns out it’s not true. And that’s exactly what I’m talking about. You know, we started out it’s a very common thing. And so you become very conscientious, wonderful. Your conscience, you know, is driving you and you’re doing a really good job. You’re trying your very best, but there’s a part of you that is so deprived, you know. I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m speaking possibly to you, but certainly to the audience as well. It’s a very common thing. It’s a part of you that’s really deprived. And that’s where that undercurrent of resentment began. And we stopped it because we don’t feel like we have a right to it. Right? How dare you feel sorry for yourself? You’re so fortunate, or you know, you have, you know, right?
Sammy Uyama: Right, right. Yeah.
John Williams: And then that’s exactly the kind of thing that leads to trouble. We end up suppressing it, we stuff it, we shove it over, we’re not going to feel it. There’s an undercurrent of resentment and anger, and you become vaguely irritable. And then we start taking it out our kids, wife, you know, stuff like that. It’s because there’s some need that’s not being met, and need for fun need, for meaning something like that. Again, many people don’t have enough meaning in their life. They don’t have a spiritual life that really works for them. They don’t have any higher purpose. And they’re profoundly bored in that domain, and they don’t even recognize it because our, especially Western society, is so opposed to in Korea, too. So profoundly secular, you know, just very body-oriented and very materialistic. And many people don’t even recognize how much they’re aching for higher meaning and higher purpose. And they’re bored. And so that’s another thing that often leads people into, I gotta do something. I’m so empty. I’ve got to do something to give me a jolt of excitement, makes me feel alive. And of course, sex is a fantastic vehicle for that. So you know what it means?
Sammy Uyama: Sort of makes sense. Yeah, everything is coming together. It makes perfect sense. And what one of the biggest things I’m taking away from this whole conversation is that human beings do actually make sense if you, you know, there’s yeah, we’re not there. We’re not wholly perplexing and mysterious. If you uncover, if you uncover enough, then you can actually see how the pieces fit together.
John Williams: That’s right. It’s very true. You can’t skip the basic laws of what people need, even though we want to, you know, we really want to, I don’t want to have to, you know, I was, I never really received enough approval from my dad, or at least I didn’t let it in. I didn’t feel like I got it, let’s say, and I don’t want to be needing that. That’s ridiculous. You know, I’m a grown man. I can do my, I can affirm myself, you know. But it turns out, and I again, I know very well, from personal experience, how much you don’t want to have these needs. Like this is stupid. This is ridiculous. I’m not going to need this – but you do. And, and before you know it, you look for substitutes. So these basic human needs can’t be skipped. They can’t be gotten around, and they will haunt. That’s why I’m, because I’m learning from my own experience with clients, too. It’s amazing. I see these heroic people. You know, guys who are least fantastic men who are fathering ten children, some of whom are adopted. They’re, they’re pioneering a mission field and a third world country. They’re, I mean, they are just like number one in every area – as an executive, as a leader, as a spiritual guide, as a father, as you know, check off everything that you would consider to be heroic. And then now they’re just caught having an affair and they’re, you know, they’re and they’re using heroin on the side. What the heck?
Sammy Uyama: Right. Yeah.
John Williams: It’s because you can’t run away from certain wounds. And inevitably you find them. So, getting back, you know, going full circle where we started, but that’s exactly right. Sammy, people are not as incomprehensible as we sometimes think. We all have emotional needs, and our need for love is paramount. And if we don’t get those needs met, we end up looking forward in funny ways, not just sex, but we look forward in being, you know, getting power over people and money and vanity, you know. Trying to get praise for our looks, all that kind of stuff. These are all substitutes, and some of them look better than others, like, you know what I mean. They look more acceptable. They’re all substitutes. And so if we, if we can be happy with ourselves that we can know that we’re loved, we can have a few people who know us, basically all of our worst crap, and they love and accept us anyway. And we have a sense of meaning and stuff like that. We can be very happy people with relatively little, but you can have a ton of other things and if you don’t have that, you can still be quite unhappy and find yourself getting involved with addictions and weird compulsive eating.
Sammy Uyama: Okay. We started out not sure how to try to dive into this topic, and I feel like it’s remarkable and answering the broad question of how can good people end up down the path of doing some bad things? From you know, by their own definition.
John Williams: Yeah, by their definition.
Sammy Uyama: And I so much appreciate you sharing all of your wisdom. We’ve gone on for longer than I promised to keep you and so I appreciate you generously sharing your expertise and your experience and wisdom.
John Williams: Oh, Sammy, it’s such a pleasure to talk with you. I’m so happy to be able to help out.
Sammy Uyama: Yes, thank you very much.