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If disagreements have put a strain on relationships with family, a new year may be just the right time to mend them.

According to the Bowen Theory, tension created within a family relationship negatively affects other relationships in that structure and when this tension is heightened or lasts for a long time, clinical problems can occur.

It’s important to confront tension because it never disappears, the theory says. Even when family members become emotionally cutoff from their family, they can’t fully run away from it. Those same issues will manifest in any “substitute” families they create. Many psychologists cite forgiveness as a major factor in letting go of such negative emotions.

Forgiveness, however, can be difficult to give when you’re hurt. To go into the new year with a clean slate, take these nine steps toward forgiveness that are recommended by the Stanford Forgiveness Project’s Dr. Fred Luskin:

1. Understand your own feelings.

Make sure that you can clearly state what bothers you about the situation and then share it with someone you trust.

2. Commit to forgiving.

Decide that you will take whatever action you need to feel better about what’s going on.

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