If I am perceiving anything other than an expression of love or a request for love from anyone, including my own self, then my inner lens needs to be cleaned.
When bugs get smashed on my car's windshield, I know that the remedy is to use my wipers, not to get out of the car and go try to clean the thing I am looking at through the dirty windshield.
the wipers I've been using lately come from the Hawaiian tradition of H'oponopono. There's an article I like that explains it here: http://www.consciousmindjournal.com/Articles/2008-02-01/Hoponopono.cfm
The short version is this:
I internally repeat four simple phrases in sequence until I feel an inner release of tension. I usually experience the release as a melting feeling in the area of my heart.
I love you.
Please forgive me.
These phrases are directed at myself, not at the other person.
I usually start melting the instant I tell myself I love you. It puts me right in touch with my little innocent human self, and how hard I am on it sometimes.
I'm sorry is almost always followed by more when I hear it in my head, but it doesn't have to be. I'm sorry for treating myself this way. I'm sorry for forgetting my innocence. I'm sorry for talking to myself that way. I'm sorry for forgetting who I really am, and what I am doing here. I'm sorry for hurting myself with that thought.
Please forgive me and Thank you normally stand alone for me.
So here's how this might go in real life:
Let's say I'm at the store, and someone says Hurry up, you are in my way!
Through a clean windshield, I see someone in a big hurry, and I simply step aside.
Through a dirty windshield, I might see someone who is full of himself and thinks his pace is more important than mine.
so I activate my wipers:
I love you (and it's perfectly fine for me to walk at whatever pace I like right now).
I'm sorry (for the feeling inside me when I got angry at him).
Please forgive me.
If I don't feel better yet, I run it again.
I love you (and there is nothing wrong with me for feeling this way).
I'm sorry (for taking any of this personally).
Please forgive me.
Rarely do I need to run this through more than twice before my happiness is restored. But I will happily do it for as long as it takes to feel good again.
the article I linked to above goes into more detail.
gotta dash ... I have a daughter with a DVD waiting for me downstairs.
I'm back, with a stomach that hurts from laughing so hard at Little Miss Sunshine, to elaborate a bit on the expression/request for love concept. It's rooted in A Course in Miracles (ACIM), which I studied about a decade ago.
The idea, as I recall it, is that verbal and nonverbal communication falls into basically two categories -- affectionate words, compliments, and kindness are expressions of love, whereas insults, complaints, demands, whining, and attacks are simply indirect and unskillful requests for love. When we hear them that way, there's really only one response that feels appropriate -- compassion.
Compassion can show up in many guises. It might be a very loving and gentle NO. It could be that we simply reassure the whiner/complainer that we care about their feelings and their experience (like a well-trained customer service representative who lets you know that your feedback is important, she's sorry for your inconvenience, and she'll do whatever she can to make it right).
Compassion doesn't mean you just lay down and let people walk all over you. It does mean that you don't see them as terrible or evil, but rather as temporarily communicatively impaired. You may choose to remove yourself until they can be more clear, or you may be willing to translate and offer love in response to their request. It doesn't really matter either way. The point is that you don't stew yourself in your own juices while building a case to prove how bad or wrong they are.
I think this quote from http://www.clearmind.com/acim.cfm expresses it pretty well:
ACIM considers all behavior to be either a call for love, or an extension of love. When we can see the “call for love” under difficult behavior, forgiveness naturally occurs, and we are left in a state of compassion rather that locked into anger, fear, or guilt. It is our compassionate mind than can then make proactive decisions which result in a more positive life.