The Death of Pretending

–Becoming Whole and Integrated

Several years ago, we lived where there was a large backyard and fenced deck next to a breezeway. On warm, sunny days my children played in these spaces. One summer morning we noticed a rancid smell that permeated the entire house. This putrid odor made all of us gag a bit. I had never smelled anything like this.

After investigating, my husband, at the time, found a decomposing possum underneath the deck. Amazed that the pungent, indescribable odor could permeate our entire home from the outside, I felt grateful he had found the source. He wore a mask and struggled not to toss his cookies as he cleared away the remains.

I regularly share that the conditions of our spaces are metaphors for our lives. I know signs come in all kinds of packages, sometimes nasty ones. I looked up possum in my Power Animal book. These creatures pretend to be dead as a coping strategy. Predators want live possum. The decomposers obviously relish the actual dead ones.

I laughed as I read this. I reflected on my life up to that moment. I realized I no longer needed to pretend about anything. Now, it took me years of bumbling along the path towards living true to myself, to living in greater alignment. I still sometimes notice I’m pretending about something. I’m better at catching this quickly as it often makes me irritable.

What are you pretending? Do you pretend to be sick when you are well? Do you pretend to be well when you are sick? Do you pretend to be in love when you are “meh”? Do you pretend to be happy, kind, blissful when you want to growl, snap, and roar? Do you pretend to be brave when you are petrified? Do you pretend you are poor when you are rich? Do you pretend to be rich when you have debts? Do you pretend that you are not addicted when you have a serious addiction? Do you pretend all is “fine” when all hell is breaking loose everywhere around you? Do you wait for others to tell you about your authenticity and have no clue what that actually feels like in your own body? And how would others really know the “real” you unless they were inside of your mind, heart, body, and soul 24/7 and maybe you can hardly be inside yourself 24/7?

The process of becoming yourself, of living true to your life purpose takes time, practice, and focus. Becoming whole and integrated involves becoming vulnerable enough, to tell the truth about what’s going on inside of your heart, your gut, your soul, and maybe, lastly, your mind that can actually begin to learn from your body.

Daily meditation or time for quiet reflection, movement, mindfulness, and gratitude practice can support you in meaningful ways with this shift. Listening to podcasts, reading books, attending transformational trainings, or asking your closest friends for honest feedback can help, too.

Telling the truth to yourself can be such a brave step forward. Telling the truth, you discovered about yourself to others becomes an additional bold action.

Being willing to hold a compassionate, safe space of non-judgment and deeply listen often allows others to reveal their deeper truths. Holding this sacred space can free others from pretending. What a profound gift your presence becomes for your colleagues and beloved ones. Living in a state of greater wholeness, alignment, and integration brings great joy. May the death of pretending enter your life in a less noxious sign than a decomposing, stinking possum. May you honor the gift of your life by breathing fresh air and exhaling your honesty, your beauty, and your grace.

Laura Staley
Laura Staley
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura helps people thrive in the physical spaces where they live and work. She educates people about the optimal arrangement of belongings for comfort, safety, and flow; de-cluttering for freedom; and planning transitions to new or updated spaces for optimal joy in life. Laura knows that the conditions of our homes and workplaces shape the quality of our lives. Trained and certified with the Western School of Feng Shui and seasoned by more than a decade working with a variety of clients, Laura uses her intuition and expertise to help her clients produce remarkable results in their lives. Her own awakening to the power of feng shui came on the heels of a flood and the realization that she could live with beloved belongings rather than unloved hand-me-down stuff. Her trifecta of serving people includes public speaking, writing, and compassionate coaching. Laura is a published author of the books Let Go Courageously and Live with Love: Transform Your Life with Feng Shui and Cherish Your World Gift Book: 100 Tips to Enhance Your Home and Your Life. Prior to creating her company, Laura worked as a full-time parent and an assistant professor at Ohio Wesleyan University. She earned a Ph.D. in political science from The Ohio State University. Her joys in life include loving her dog, laughing with great friends, dancing, reading, meditating, running, being in nature, and listening to music she loves. You are welcome to connect with Laura below.
Notify of
Maureen Y. Nowicki

Very though-provoking as usual, Laura! I so agree that the condition of our spaces is a metaphor of our lives. Much can be gleamed in surveying our environments about our emotional selves. I work at not being a pretender and showing up to be as honest as possible to those around me. I just do not want to live a life of BS’ing myself or others. In doing that it does take self-work and being a-okay to just put things out there and to have those sometimes not so comfortable discussions. It is all worth the effort to attempt to have a truly fulfilled life. Thank you your sharing your story and of your possum reveal!

Darlene Corbett

Hi Laura:

Very nice! Not pretending is something I refer to in my book. I call it platinum-style authenticity. Being our best authentic selves. Thank you for this!?

Jeff Ikler
Jeff Ikler

Laura – Beautifully composed and written as always. Your posts always make me think. I think I’m pretty genuine, but as our friend, Kimberly Davis, instructs: it’s not up to me to say. Only those with whom I interact are allowed to grant me that badge. There is no deodorant in the world that will cover up the odor of pretending.

Larry Tyler

I loved this story Laura. Growing up on a farm I knew exactly what you are saying.
You give us inspiring advice that we may carry with us in times of need.

Mary Schaefer

“Becoming whole and integrated involves becoming vulnerable enough, to tell the truth about what’s going on inside of your heart, your gut, your soul, and maybe, lastly, your mind that can actually begin to learn from your body.” So lovely, Laura. Thank you for this timeless reminder. And, not everyone can connect it to a vivid story about a dead possum. Well done!

Noemi Zarb

I think that our spaces are extensions of ourselves as well as metaphors of our lives. I am a big believer in landscapes as mindscapes, both on an individual and societal level. Your insightful post brings Aristotle’s priceless quote to mind: ‘Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.’ Thank you for sharing.



Powerful voices from around the globe that speak to our shared human experience. May they inspire you and give you great hope.



Must Read