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A New Framework For Helpers


Practicing Compassionate Badassery® is Caring for Self AND Caring for Others.

What is Practicing Compassionate Badassery?

It takes courage to show up with an open heart in a complex world and care for those who are suffering. In order to remain compassionate and to keep trying (even when you can’t control the outcome of your efforts) you need to be well.  

Practicing Compassionate Badassery is shorthand for choosing to care for yourself AND to care for others. It’s based in the belief that self-care/collective-care and service inherently belong together.

Animal welfare and worker welfare are intertwined.

We practice compassionate badassery by making intentional, often uncomfortable, choices that build our internal and external resources – our capacity – to keep showing up for others, without causing harm to ourselves (or those we serve). 

Practicing Compassionate Badassery means we pay as much attention to how we approach our work as we do the outcomes of our efforts. 

This framework exists to support anyone in a caregiving or helping role who wants to move away from empathy/compassion fatigue or burnout culture and towards increased well-being, joy, and ethical, effective, sustainable giving.

This approach may put you at odds with “helping” culture and toxic workplace systems, in which a lack of boundaries, no self-care, over-giving, grinding productivity, and exhaustion are celebrated as the ideal.

Therefore, it takes as much (if not more) courage to care for yourself as it does to care for others.



Practicing Compassionate Badassery is all about making intentional choices as a helping professional, so that you can keep making an impact AND live with dignity. 

At one time or another we all make choices (or find ourselves in environments and systems) that move us away from the zone of Compassionate Badassery and towards empathy fatigue, indifference, and burnout. 

Our experiences on the job are shaped by our individual and collective past histories, perspectives and beliefs, resources, and present circumstances. Each quadrant is a way of understanding where our choices and external factors may lead us. Use the matrix as a guide to help orient yourself towards a more sustainable, ethical, effective approach to helping. This may include critically examining the organizations, cultures, and systems you work within. 

Please remember that this is not a personality test or a way to label yourself or others. The matrix is a map, not your destination. 

The Compassionate Badassery Matrix is a trademark of Jessica Dolce, LLC.



Compassionate Badassery

This is caring for self AND caring for others. It's a balance of individual-care and community-care. This happens when one makes intentional, courageous choices to care deeply for oneself and others. It looks like growth, curiosity, connection, possibility, well-being, vicarious resilience, and satisfaction.

Extreme Avoidance

May also be thought of as overwhelm and burnout. This is what happens when one is not caring for self and is disconnected from others. It looks like numbness, apathy, lack of engagement, withdrawal, hopelessness, despair, and exhaustion.

Rigid Individualism

May also be thought of as "selfishness" or rigid boundaries. This happens when one is caring for self without caring for others. It looks like judgement, fear, scarcity, distrust, lack of empathy and compassion, and a failure to consider the impact of systemic issues on the individual.

Compulsive Helping

May also be thought of as compassion fatigue, empathetic strain, or secondary traumatic stress. This is what happens when one cares for others, without caring for self. It looks like a lack of boundaries, hero-mode, over-identifying with clients, resentment, hypervigilance, exhaustion, and eventually loss of empathy.

Take the Compassionate Badassery Superpower Quiz



Looking for an easy way to remember HOW to Practice Compassionate Badassery? Download and print out the manifesto!

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Compassion in Balance® = Serving Your Community + Investing in Your Organization’s People.

It’s based in the belief that caring for your staff and caring for your community cannot be separated. Animal welfare and worker welfare are inextricably linked. This is an important companion to the individual framework.

If you are a leader, it’s critical to remember that self-care, while necessary, is insufficient on its own. Organizations are obligated to create healthy working conditions that mitigate occupations hazards, such as secondary traumatic stress. 



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