One of the best ways to market yourself is by telling your story, because stories activate the imagination and convey more meaning than random sentences.

They grip people and don’t let go. They make your product or service sticky.

But stories also, fundamentally, shape how we see the world. They make it all very clear.

Kids love stories and have a real knack for pointing out the bad guy and they aren’t shy about bringing him to justice.

You can look in the mirror and convince yourself you’re slim all you want until your kid walks in the room and blurts out “You’re fat!”

Which leads to the stickiest truth about life: there is a gap between who we think we are and who we really are.

This psychological gap is something we never truly bridge. We will spend the rest of our lives adjusting our image of ourselves by listening to what others say about us and our brands — because we know we have blind spots that are unfixable.

When we are young, we try to close that gap by telling stories, stories about our successes, and if we can convince our friends they are true, then we believe it too. If they don’t, we either trim up our stories a little bit (the fish wasn’t quite that big) or we refuse to settle and we find new friends who will believe our wild tales.

The first option is what leads to humility and character. Our kids blurt out the truth before we can stop them and we are forced to realize they are being honest and true.

The second option creates absolute chaos. Instead of closing the gap between who we are and who we think we are, it widens it. When our kids blurt out the truth, instead of listening, we seek to discredit them and their opinion.

Taking this to another level: when people disagree with the story you tell yourself about yourself, how do you respond?

Do you listen and reflect on their opinion? Or do you seek to bring them down and discredit them?

This is the harshest reality of all this.

Every story has a true timeline that will hold up in a court of law, but that true story has a bunch of interpretations: the prosecution’s interpretation, the defense’s interpretation and the witnesses’ interpretation.

What matters is what is true.

Naturally, we all typically think we are the heroes of our stories, the source of life and energy for our family and friend group.

But what would reality say if it could speak?

Who is the good guy? Who is the bad guy? Who is the evil witch casting spells?

Are you the good guy or are you the sneaky neighbor who keeps stealing stuff from the good guy’s garage?

Who are you in your story?

Who do you think you are, yes, but — more importantly — who do others think you are?

We tell ourselves stories about our world so that we can define them and understand them.

Joan Didion wrote a book called “We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live” and this was her theme.

We need stories.

Our souls need them, our families need them and our brands need them.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates

Adam Setser is a financial advisor with Kerrigan Capital and Risk Management, 3543 North Crossing Circle, Valdosta. He can be reached at (229) 588-8448.

Securities and insurance products are offered through Cetera Investment Services LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services are offered through Cetera Investment Advisers LLC. Cetera firms are under separate ownership from any other named entity.

The opinions contained in this material are those of the author, and not a recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell investment products. This information is from sources believed to be reliable, but Cetera Investment Services LLC cannot guarantee or represent that it is accurate or complete.

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