Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

Yeah, sure, I get it.

Change is risky. You could go from the frying pan to the fire. From bad to worse.

But still—the devil? If you know you’re dealing with Lucifer himself, isn’t it wise to at least toy with idea of getting the hell out of there?

“Better the devil you know” seems an argument for stasis. It suggests that since there are no guarantees, you might as well just suck it up and stay stuck with the devil.

Isn’t that setting the bar a little low?

OK, if you take some of the hyperbole out of it—“better the annoyances you know than the possibly more annoying annoyances you don’t,” then I can roll with it. Change for the sake of change isn’t always a good idea. (Sometimes it is. Depends.)

But why assume that there’s a devil on the other side of change? Maybe there’s an angel or puppies or cupcakes.

How about “Better the angel you might find than the devil you know.”

I suppose these pithy words are supposed to provide some sort of certainty when you are feeling in flux. You know what you know and that’s good information.

But it works both ways. We what if you know your situation is the devil?


What if  a situation really truly is bad and you are genuinely unhappy or abused or in the wrong place or any number of things that can feel like hell?

Doesn’t it make sense to act on that solid knowledge rather than out of fear of the unknown?

After all, when a door closes, a window opens.

Devil illustration is available from Shutterstock.



View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 0 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.


    Last reviewed: 1 Dec 2012

APA Reference
Dembling, S. (2012). The Devil In Decisions. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 27, 2015, from



Subscribe to this Blog: Feed

Recent Comments
  • Starcke: I think Pascal quote has a less obvious; more important meaning. To me he is saying men too often change...
  • JB: He never actually says you have to be alone, or that it is an inability to be alone that is the cause of...
  • Barb: Just read a great book,’The Antidote’ by Oliver Burkeman that is about this subject. Kind of Seneca...
  • Barb: I simplified gift giving a while ago. I only give books or music. Lucky for me, everyone in my life is either a...
  • Jason Mangrum: I think just let your emotions flow,it will be more hurtful if you keep on fighting it.It is a therapy.
Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code

Users Online: 12240
Join Us Now!