What Does It Mean to Sell Yourself Short?

Are there ever times when you doubt your abilities? Like you’ll never achieve the level of success you desire? If so, you are not by yourself. Many people undervalue themselves, which can prevent them from accomplishing their objectives.

We’ll talk about what it means to sell yourself short, why it happens, and how to stop doing it in this article. In addition, we’ll list tools you can use to find support if you’re having trouble undervaluing yourself.

What Does It Mean to Sell Yourself Short?

Let’s discuss what it means to sell yourself short, but first, let me tell you a little story.

Sarah was a talented artist, but she always doubted her abilities. She would often downplay her skills when asked about them, and she would rarely speak up in class or at art shows. She was afraid of being judged or rejected, so she would rather play it safe and stay in the background.

One day, Sarah’s teacher pulled her aside and told her that she was selling herself short. “You have so much talent,” the teacher said. “You need to start believing in yourself and your work.”

Sarah’s teacher’s words stuck with her, and she started to think about what she could do to change her mindset. She started practicing positive self-talk and challenging her negative thoughts. She also started speaking up more in class and at art shows.

It wasn’t easy at first, but eventually Sarah started to believe in herself more. She started submitting her work to art competitions and galleries, and she even started selling her paintings.

Sarah is still a work in progress, but she is no longer selling herself short. She knows that she has talent, and she is not afraid to share it with the world.

Selling yourself short means underestimating your own worth, abilities, or potential. It can manifest in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Underplaying your skills and experience. When you’re asked about your skills and experience, you downplay them or focus on your weaknesses. For example, you might say that you’re “not that good at public speaking” or that you “don’t have much experience with this software.”
  • Not speaking up. You don’t speak up in meetings or in other situations where your voice is needed. You might be afraid of saying the wrong thing or of being judged.
  • Turning down opportunities. You turn down opportunities because you don’t think you’re good enough or because you’re afraid of failure. For example, you might turn down a promotion or a new job because you’re afraid you won’t be able to do it.
  • Settling for less. You settle for less than you deserve in your career, relationships, or other areas of your life. For example, you might stay in a job that you’re not happy with because you’re afraid of finding something better.
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Why Is It Important to Avoid Selling Yourself Short?

It’s important not to sell your soul out, for a lot of reasons. There are a few of them, too:

  • You deserve to be happy and successful. Everyone deserves to be happy and successful, and selling yourself short will only hold you back from achieving your goals.
  • You have something unique and valuable to offer the world. Everyone has something unique and valuable to offer the world, and selling yourself short means not sharing your gifts with others.
  • You don’t want to let your fears or insecurities hold you back. Selling yourself short is often a way of avoiding our fears and insecurities. But by facing our fears and insecurities, we can overcome them and achieve our goals.
  • You want to live a life that is true to yourself. Selling yourself short means not living a life that is true to yourself. When you live a life that is true to yourself, you are happier and more fulfilled.

Causes of Selling Yourself Short

There are many reasons for selling yourself short. Some of the most common include:

1. Lack of confidence.

If you don’t believe in yourself or your abilities, you’re more likely to sell yourself short. This can be due to a number of factors, such as negative experiences, criticism from others, or unrealistic expectations.

Setting modest objectives and accomplishing them, taking calculated chances, and surrounding yourself with upbeat people are just a few of the numerous things you can do to boost your confidence.

2. Fear of failure.

In order to avoid taking chances, our fear of failure can occasionally cause us to undersell our abilities. We could be less willing to take risks or try new things if we’re terrified of failing.

The best way to overcome your fear of failure is to face it head-on. Start by taking small risks and gradually increase the size of the risks you take as you become more comfortable.

3. Low self-esteem. 

People with low self-esteem often have a negative view of themselves and their abilities. This can make it difficult for them to believe in themselves and take credit for their accomplishments.

Positive self-talk, concentrating on your strengths, and forgiving yourself for your faults are just a few strategies to help you build your self-esteem.

4. Past negative experiences. 

If we’ve had negative experiences in the past, such as being rejected or criticized, it can damage our self-confidence and make us more likely to sell ourselves short.

When you have negative thoughts about yourself, challenge them and replace them with positive thoughts. For example, if you think “I’m not good enough,” challenge that thought by reminding yourself of your accomplishments and strengths.

5. Cultural or religious beliefs. 

Some cultures or religions may have messages that discourage people from taking risks or from believing in themselves. This can also lead to selling oneself short.

If you’re struggling to overcome the causes of selling yourself short, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor. They can help you identify the underlying issues and develop strategies for coping with them.

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Consequences of Selling Yourself Short

There are a lot of detrimental long- and short-term effects of selling yourself short. It may result in missed chances, poor performance, and unrealized potential in the near term. Long-term, it might undermine your self-worth and trigger despair.

Missed opportunities

When you undervalue yourself, you run the risk of passing up chances for development, education, and growth. For instance, you might decide not to apply for a position for which you are qualified or take on a difficult project. This may restrict your chances for careers and keep you from realizing your full potential.


When you don’t believe in yourself, you may not reach your full potential. You may settle for less than you’re capable of, or you may give up on your goals too easily. This can lead to underachievement in school, work, and other areas of your life.

Unfulfilled potential

Everyone has unique talents and abilities. When you sell yourself short, you may never realize your full potential. You may never know what you could have accomplished if you had believed in yourself. This can be a source of regret and disappointment.

Low self-esteem

Your self-esteem can be damaged if you undersell yourself. It can be challenging to feel good about yourself if you continuously criticize yourself. This may cause issues in your personal and professional life, such as relationship issues, depression, and anxiety.


Depression can occasionally result from having low self-esteem. Serious mental illnesses like depression can affect your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. If you’re sad, you absolutely must get help from a specialist.

How to Avoid Selling Yourself Short

If you’re struggling with selling yourself short, here are a few things you can do:

  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses. The first step to avoiding selling yourself short is to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Once you know what you’re good at and what you need to improve on, you can start to focus on your strengths and develop your weaknesses.
  • Set realistic goals. Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting goals that are too ambitious. Start with small, achievable goals and work your way up to larger goals.
  • Practice positive self-talk. The way you talk to yourself matters. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, challenge them and replace them with positive thoughts.
  • Get feedback from others. Ask people you trust for honest feedback about your skills and abilities. This can help you to see yourself more objectively and identify areas where you can improve.
  • Take risks. Stepping outside of your comfort zone can be scary, but it’s also a great way to grow and learn. Don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things.
  • Celebrate your successes. When you achieve a goal, take the time to celebrate your success. This will help you to build your confidence and motivation.

Additional Tips

  • Surround yourself with positive people who believe in you.
  • Take care of yourself physically and mentally.
  • Challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone.
  • Forgive yourself for your mistakes.
  • Learn from your experiences.
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Though selling yourself short is a common problem, it’s also possible to fix undervaluing yourself. If you pay attention to the suggestions, you will develop selfworth and maximise your potential.

Biblical Perspective on Selling Yourself Short

The Bible teaches us to value ourselves and our gifts. In the book of Genesis, we are told that we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). This means that we are made with worth and dignity, just like God. We have unique talents and abilities that we can use to serve others and glorify God.

When we sell ourselves short, we are not honoring the image of God in which we are made. We are also not using our gifts to their fullest potential. The Bible tells us to “not be afraid” and to “be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:9). This means that we should not be afraid to step out in faith and use our gifts to make a difference in the world.

We should use our gifts to serve others and glorify God

Our gifts are not just for us to enjoy. They are also for the benefit of others. When we use our gifts to serve others, we are glorifying God. We are showing the world that God is good and that He loves us.

There are many ways to use our gifts to serve others. We can volunteer our time, donate money, or simply be kind and compassionate to those around us. When we use our gifts to serve others, we are making the world a better place.

Resources for Overcoming Selling Yourself Short

If you are struggling with selling yourself short, there are many resources available to help you. Here are a few:

  • Books: There are many books available on the topic of self-esteem and confidence. Some of these books include “The Confidence Code” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale, and “Feeling Good” by David D. Burns.
  • Articles: There are also many articles available online on the topic of selling yourself short. A quick Google search will turn up many results.
  • Websites: There are also many websites that offer resources on self-esteem and confidence. Some of these websites include Psychology Today, The Mayo Clinic, and HelpGuide.org.
  • Counselors and therapists: If you are struggling to overcome selling yourself short on your own, you may want to consider talking to a counselor or therapist. They can help you to identify the underlying causes of your self-doubt and develop strategies for overcoming it.


Selling yourself short is a common problem, but it is one that you can overcome. By learning to value yourself and your gifts, and by using your gifts to serve others and glorify God, you can live a life that is full of purpose and meaning.

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