‘Better the devil you know?’

UsingEnglish.com defines the idiom “Better the devil you know,” as follows:

“This is the shortened form of the full idiom, ‘better the devil you know than the devil you don’t’, and means that it is often better to deal with someone or something you are familiar with and know, even if they are not ideal, than take a risk with an unknown person or thing.”

This cliché is wrong. Why? What if the “devil” is better? How will you ever know if you don’t take a risk? If you have this attitude, nothing will ever change. Thinking this way is safe, but things will never improve.

Have you said the cliche in question? I have said it many times but now realize it only holds me back. It holds a lot of people back from accomplishing meaningful change and improvement.

Is this cliché and many like it stopping you from becoming your best?


Posted on February 5, 2011, in Change. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The fear of the unknown is a powerfully debilitating place to take up permanent residence.

    I like Andrew Razeghi's quote:

    “Know that we humans do not have to be stuck in our ways. We choose to do so.”

  2. I view this as a cautionary cliché. Any time you make a change, things can get better, get worse, or stay about the same. The law of unintended consequences tells us that even positive changes can have negative side effects and visa versa. The point here is that just because you are going to do something different, don't assume that things will automatically be better as result.

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