Effective Strategies for Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs and Toxic Positivity At Work

with Andrea Herron, Head of People at WebMD


Interview by CT Leong, Host of the HR Impact Show podcast.

Interview Key Takeaways

  • True employee engagement involves supporting both their professional tasks and mental well-being.

  • Identifying and challenging self-limiting beliefs is key to personal growth and creating an inclusive workplace.

  • Acknowledge all emotions in the workplace to prevent burnout and promote authentic communication.

  • The approach to workplace mental health is shifting, especially with the influence of younger generations. 

  • Implement broad initiatives including training for managers and support systems for employees.

In this episode, CT Leong interviews Andrea Herron, Head of People at WebMD, leadership consultant, and author of the book "There's an Elephant in Your Office." In the competitive landscape of modern work, addressing mental health is increasingly vital for organizations. Topics like overcoming self-limiting beliefs and combating toxic positivity in the workplace are essential yet often neglected. Drawing from Andrea's expertise, this article explores these crucial elements in workplace mental health strategies.


Engaging the Whole Person at Work

Engagement at work goes beyond job functions; it involves recognizing and supporting employees' mental and emotional well-being. Andrea Herron stresses the importance of this holistic approach, "When people feel wholly supported, their performance and satisfaction soar." Providing resources, flexibility, and accommodations is key for employees to thrive, contributing to a positive and mentally healthy work environment.


The Impact of Self-Limiting Beliefs

Self-limiting beliefs, often rooted in past experiences and societal norms, can significantly hinder personal and professional growth.

Herron discusses invisible rules, "The unspoken assumptions based on past experiences can limit how we express ourselves at work." Overcoming these beliefs is crucial for fostering a dynamic, inclusive workplace and personal growth.


The Detrimental Effects of Toxic Positivity

Toxic positivity, the overemphasis on positive messaging to the detriment of authentic emotional expression, can create unrealistic work environments. Herron notes, "When negative emotions are suppressed, it can lead to burnout and disengagement." Addressing this issue is pivotal in maintaining genuine mental health support.


Addressing Self-Limiting Beliefs and Toxic Positivity

Leaders must cultivate environments where emotions can be openly expressed and validated. Herron suggests, "Recognizing and acknowledging someone's feelings can be incredibly empowering and healing." This approach is foundational in effective workplace mental health strategies, allowing for honest communication and emotional well-being.


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"The feelings wheel is simply language. It's having language to describe that core feeling can actually help teams get along better and move on faster from conflict or just ups and downs."

Andrea Herron


Expanding Emotional Communication and Awareness

Effective communication, especially in emotional expression, is key to addressing self-limiting beliefs and enhancing emotional awareness. Herron recommends using tools like a feelings wheel to articulate emotions better, aiding in team dynamics and conflict resolution. Such tools are vital in workplace mental health strategies, offering practical ways to understand and manage emotions.


Advancing Mental Health Discussions in the Workplace

The conversation around mental health in the workplace has evolved, with younger generations like Gen Z pushing for more openness and support. Herron points out, "Their approach to mental health is reshaping workplace culture." This shift is setting new standards for mental health support in professional environments.


Implications for Organizations

Acknowledging and supporting mental health at work has broad implications. Addressing self-limiting beliefs and toxic positivity can lead to a more inclusive, productive, and mentally healthy environment, enhancing employee satisfaction and productivity. As mental health discussions evolve, leaders and organizations must adapt and prioritize these aspects.


Creating Comprehensive Mental Health Strategies

Future workplace mental health strategies should encompass comprehensive initiatives, including manager training and employee support systems. Herron advocates for "a culture where mental health is not only acknowledged but actively supported and nurtured."


Building a Supportive Work Culture

Developing a culture that supports mental health involves creating policies and practices that prioritize employee well-being. This includes flexible work arrangements, mental health days, and access to counseling services. Organizations should strive to build environments where employees feel safe to discuss their mental health without fear of stigma.


Leadership's Role in Mental Health Advocacy

Leaders play a critical role in advocating for mental health. By leading with empathy, openness, and understanding, they can set the tone for the entire organization. Training programs that equip leaders with the skills to recognize and support mental health issues are essential.


Conclusions and Future Outlook 

Engaging the whole person at work and overcoming self-limiting beliefs are key to a positive and productive environment. Organizations that actively support mental health create a culture of authenticity, well-being, and growth. As the workplace continues to evolve, prioritizing mental health is essential for building resilient, thriving teams.


"Humans have a full range of emotions. And when we downplay that or discourage the very normal ebb and flow, that's where people check out."

Andrea Herron



Note: Based on a conversation with Andrea Herron on the HR Impact Show, this article emphasizes the importance of mental health in the workplace.



Andrea Herron

Head of People at WebMD


LP-WebMD-Andrea Herron


Andrea Herron is the Head of People at WebMD, a leadership consultant and coach, a published author of "There's an Elephant in Your Office," and host of the award-winning podcast The HR Scoop. She was recently selected for Ragan’s Top Women in Wellness and HR Award, an Agent of Change by American Healthcare Leader, and a Top Leader in DEIB by Mogul. She lives in Portland, OR with her family and french bulldog.

Connect with Andrea on LinkedIn



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