Better the Devil you know than the Devil you don’t.
This is a phrase and a thought process that holds so many people back from a better life; one without manipulation and abuse. It is a phrase I heard a lot for many years. It is a phrase I heard other women use when describing their own unhappy relationships and marriages, or when counseling me on mine. This phrase summed up means something bad and familiar is better than something that is unfamiliar, which will probably also be bad. It is a phrase I considered a lot prior to my divorce, and has come back to mind recently when I was thinking of what held me back from my better life for so long. Is it really better to stay in a bad situation because you know what to expect? Is it better to be miserable because trying something different is uncomfortable?
This phrase is pessimistic. This phrase doesn’t allow for a growth mindset. This phrase can only hold people back.
Living in the “Better the Devil you know” world is like being imprisoned in your life, but at least you know when your next meal is coming. Better the devil you know is drowning, but at least you know how to find the surface and how long you can hold your breath. Better the devil you know is living in fear and shame.
Now that I’m living in the “The Devil you don’t” world, I can tell you there is more to life. The devil you don’t may not even be a devil. The devil you don’t is tremendous growth from pain. The devil you don’t takes courage. It takes faith. It takes a village to lift you up when you are down. The devil you don’t is the unknown. The devil you don’t is unlimited possibilities, both good and bad.
What about the word “than”. This is the comparison word. This is your before and after. One cannot truly compare without having been both in the before and in the after. Than describes the turmoil. Than is the word that describes the emotional hardships that come with making the decision. Than describes the period of time where you disconnect from the reality of your pain. Than describes the utter fear for your life and the life of your children. Than are the moments, glimpses really, of after. Than is when you question if this phrase was just a lie. Than is when you start to think about what is next.
So what is next? For me it has been endless opportunities. When I stopped allowing phrases like this to control my decisions, I was able to build a better life. A life in which I no longer describe the people in it as a “devil”. A life in which I have been able to experience true joy in every moment. Questioning this phrase and others like it has given me my life back.
If this phrase comes to mind when making a life decision, I challenge you to think differently. What if you had a life in which you wouldn’t consider anyone or anything in it a “devil”? THAT is a life worth fighting to achieve.