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The Devil In Decisions

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.

The Devil In Decisions

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APA Reference
Dembling, S. (2012). The Devil In Decisions. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 20, 2019, from


Last updated: 1 Dec 2012
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