The One Thing That Helps Quiet Danica Patrick's Monkey Mind

mbg Contributor By Leigh Weingus
mbg Contributor
Leigh Weingus is a New York City based freelance journalist writing about health, wellness, feminism, entertainment, personal finance, and more. She received her bachelor’s in English and Communication from the University of California, Davis.

NASCAR driver Danica Patrick has accomplished a tremendous amount in her male-dominated sport. She was the first woman to lead in the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500, the first woman to win the IndyCar race—the list goes on. A pioneer for women in the world of professional race car driving, Patrick, it would seem, is immune to the self-doubt so many of us experience. But in a sun-soaked room in lower Manhattan, she assured us that this is hardly the case.

"Self-doubt happens, and all I can do is draw on where I came from and what I’ve done, and that I wouldn’t still be here 26 years later if I wasn’t good at what I did," she tells mbg at Excedrin's migraine awareness event. "I just remember those times when I surprised myself. You don’t forget how to drive, so it depends on your circumstances and your own confidence."

Self-doubt isn't the only emotion Patrick has learned to cope with over the years. From taming her monkey mind to dealing with sexism, here are the tricks she uses to thrive.

Sexism on the NASCAR track.

According to Patrick, the sexism she's dealt with throughout her career hasn't been overt—it's a subtle style that's more difficult to pick up on. "For me it comes in the form of people not believing in me and not trying hard enough for me or putting in the effort," she explains. "You're on a team, and if nobody believes in you, they’re not going to delegate good jobs to you, they’re not going to help you stand out, and they won’t give you what you need. I'm on a team, and if people don’t give me the equipment or the car, I don’t have as good a chance as [the others]."

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Meditation and quieting the monkey mind.

While some take to the meditation cushion to unwind and quiet their monkey mind, Patrick has another method for making this happen—and it has to do with getting outside. "I love to get into the woods and walk the dogs in the woods near my house," she says. "There’s the creek and the trees, the dogs running around, and I just feel their joy—it's especially nice in the winter. When I'm outside exercising around my neighborhood, my monkey mind gets going and I think if I’m going to walk around the neighborhood, I might as well work out. But when I’m outside on the trail I just walk. I’m not going to do sprint intervals on the trail."

She adds that meditation—whether it's on the trail or seated—has been extremely helpful in both her life and her career. "It’s helped me more in life than anything. It’s about being comfortable where you're at and becoming your own best friend."

What a day off looks like for Danica.

Patrick doesn't get many days off, but when she does she takes full advantage of them. "I love spending time with my dogs, taking them for a walk, lay by the pool a little bit, listen to some good music, enjoying drinks with friends—anything that’s decompressing and relaxing. When I have a day off, I’m so sad when it comes to an end. They're the best."

Inspired by Danica's story? Here's more advice on how to tame your monkey mind.

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