Unravelling the Knots of Internalized Oppression with Staci Jordan Shelton
by Noor Hindi
For over 10 years, Staci Jordan Shelton has been working with companies on their organizational development and leadership skills. But over the last six months, Staci has been branding her skills and launching her new business, Unraveled, which seeks to “help people find the lies” that are holding them hostage and keeping them from fulfilling their dreams.
“We have all these bootstrap mentalities,” says Staci. “We’re taught it’s weak to be vulnerable, so I provide a space for people to be honest.”
Through Unraveled, Staci works with people all over the world on issues of leadership training, internalized oppression, organizational development and diversity and inclusion. For years, Staci would work with company leaders and help them develop a more empathetic model of leadership.
“It’s more about love and support versus command and control,” she says. “I think that effective leadership is more compassionate and has a higher degree of emotional intelligence.”
With the help of Unraveled, Staci is now shifting her work and making it more personal. She works with people one-on-on, helping them figure out what the sources of dissonance are in their lives.
“I feel like when people are healed they show up to every process and every space differently,” she says. “I think it looks like a greater capacity to handle and navigate conflicts and not to fall into fragility because you come away with a better sense of self.”
Although Staci’s work isn’t marketed to only women, she says 99 percent of the people who come to her class are women leaders. She helps them untangle their internalized oppression and beliefs that they don’t belong in leadership roles.
“Internalized oppression is when you agree with the stereotypes and negative connotations and negative biases that are attributed to your group,” says Staci. “So it’s when women start to think they’re less capable, or more emotional, or whatever. None of that stuff is true.”
Something interesting about Staci’s work is that it’s completely done through Facebook. Once clients sign up, they are added to a group and given access to Facebook Live videos that Staci posts every day. They are also given discussion questions and prompts each day, as well as access to a community of people who are struggling just like them. The program is a seven-day experience from Sunday to Sunday.
Staci says the online platform has never limited her. Actually, it’s allowed her to work with clients from Australia, New Zealand and Iceland.
“The world has changed and everything doesn’t need to be in person, nor is it even possible for us to be in person,” she says. “And it’s not really about the platform. It’s about what happens.”
The Facebook Live option also allows people who aren’t available at certain hours to still participate and benefit from the program, even if their schedule is busy. Staci also points out that many people are ashamed to cry in front of others, so the online platform allows them some protection.
“This has been really, really amazing and it’s actually facilitated more openness because people have a little bit of a shield,” she says. “People have told me it’s easier to spill it all out in writing.”
Staci chose the name Unraveled because she is a knitter and considers the process of knitting a metaphor for life. She truly believes that people will not be able to show up as their full selves unless they work through the problems and “knots” in their life.
Knitting is also a creative outlet for her.
“Creativity is self-care, so knitting is a form of self-care for me,” she says.
Because Staci’s work is centered around empathy and listening, she values her self-care and alone time. Staci is talkative and friendly, but identifies as an introvert. She has a morning routine that involves waking up early and journaling.
She’s also able to detach her own emotions from others.
“I really believe that empathy is my superpower,” she says. “I have an ability to hold space for people and step outside of things. I’m able to detach from it enough so that it doesn’t suck everything out of me.”
When asked why she loves the work that she does, Staci replies that she just “wants everybody free, everybody happy.”
Learn more about Staci’s business at stacishelton.com.
(Both photos by Jef Janis of Jef Janis Photography)
Noor Hindi is currently pursuing her MFA in poetry at The University of Akron. She is usually very nervous. Check her out at nervouspoodlepoetry.com.