Imagine if every time you had a thought, instead of being words or sounds inside your head the thought materialized in front of you. It would be like walking around with your hands in front of your face all day long, each finger like a thought.
This is what it is often like for us except it happens within our own inner experience. The phrase "the lights are on but no one is home" nails this idea - our physical bodies are present but our attention is drawn out of the moment and focused firmly inwards on our thoughts.
Our minds are like the worlds greatest story tellers, they love attention and people to listen to their yarns. So the human mind has developed its craft, using a variety of themes to hook us with. Worries about the past or future, reasons why we can't do things, judgements about ourselves and others, and rules about how things should be.
It's not all doom and gloom - sometimes thoughts are helpful (such as planning or actively problem-solving), sometimes they are neutral and enjoyable (when we day-dream about the beach) but sometimes they just get in the way of doing something meaningful (the good old "I'm not good enough" story rolls out - "I'm stupid, I'm boring, I'm worthless"). So what can we do about it? The first step is to notice them for what they are: thoughts.
Just like we can notice the things we can hear, touch or see, with practice we can notice our thoughts in a similar way. By being more mindful of our thoughts (particularly when they hook us out of the moment) we can learn to let them come and go like cars driving along the road outside.
Try commending your mind by saying to yourself "Ah-ha! You got me again! Thanks mind for the 'I'm too tired' story". Or imagine your thoughts are the radio playing and simply turn the volume down when they are unhelpful in their content.
Get my thoughts sent directly to your inbox (a modern day version of telepathy).