Skip to main content

Focusing on the 4%

Professor Elsa Perez shares how to address the stressors you can control and let go of the rest.

We all stress out—at least occasionally—and that stress can come from lots of things. Whether our stressors are insignificant or consequential, we often can’t control many of them. So, how do we cope? On August 21, 2023, Visiting Assistant Professor Elsa Perez (Spanish) spoke about how to change our mindsets, focus on what we can control, and turn to the Savior when we experience adversity. As Perez presented in Spanish, all quotes have been translated.

Elsa Perez presents at BYU Education Week
Photo by Lydia Hall

Perez talked about reasons for people’s stress and anxiety, sharing that only 8% of the stressors in most people’s lives have long-term importance. Of that 8%, only 4% are things that people can control. Perez said, “Sometimes adversity is an environment that we create inside our own minds that we have to learn to navigate.”

Her advice for navigating adversity and turning to the Lord is to start by recognizing adversity as part of the human experience and taking responsibility for the 4% that we can control. Perez explained that when we get stressed, we should be able to say, “It’s not the government’s fault, or my parents’ fault, or the fault of a crisis, or of external things, but I take responsibility for what is happening.” Taking responsibility includes not hiding our weaknesses from ourselves, but acknowledging them and trying our best to learn from them, which is what God wants us to do. Perez said, “Sometimes we think that speaking about our weaknesses makes us weak. But when we talk about our weaknesses, we’re recognizing areas of opportunity that later can be converted into strengths.”

Perez’s final advice was to connect to friends, family, and the Lord: “Search for people, search for help, and don’t isolate yourself. Find a place where you can feel love and acceptance, and where you feel heard.” All of us will face adversity, much of which we won’t be able to control, but as we take responsibility and turn towards Christ, we can find the peace we seek.

Learn more about Education Week.