Erna Hoek is the owner and founder of Erna Hoek Transformational Coaching and the website healyourbrokenheartnow.com.
Erna’s “Heal your broken heart now” program helps women break free from the emotional baggage of a breakup or divorce, so they can put their attention back on what is important to them and move on with confidence in themselves and faith in their future.
Erna initially studied journalism and worked as a reporter for several years, but because she speaks several languages, she later ended up in the travel industry. She worked as a multi-lingual tour director on Motor Coach Tours throughout North America for many years, and later as a cruise director on European River Cruises. As the tourism business always gave her a lot of free time, when she wasn’t working, she studied pretty much every self-development and self-empowerment tool and technique in workshops, retreats, and courses around the world. Erna is a practitioner in several of them, but one of the favorite tools she uses with her clients is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). She inspires many people who are looking for a fulfilling partnership themselves to believe that it was possible for them as well and even facilitated a workshop called “How to Create the Relationship of Your Dreams” at some point.
Erna herself went through a painful breakup so she knows exactly what her clients are going through. She was with her partner for four and a half years and she honestly thought her partner was her soul mate. But somehow he ended up in a weird kind of burnout or depression, and that’s when things started going horribly wrong. She wanted him to get help, but he did not feel that was necessary and that’s when they ended up in a very unhealthy push-pull dynamic.
One evening, after a massive fight, he just fled out of the house and left her as if he was a fugitive on the run. Erna was devastated, and it felt as if she wouldn’t survive the pain she was in. Her heart was shattered into million pieces and she thought she would never get over it. Although she had been through other breakups in her life before which were painful too, this time it was a million times worse because she had never loved anyone as much as she had loved this man. She fell apart in a big way and as more and more of her friends retreated, she felt completely alone with her pain and suffering.
One day, after another massive crying session, she remembered her toolbox – the toolbox that could get her out of this depression. Because of her severe shock and panic, her mind had not been functioning fully – she had somehow temporarily forgotten that the last 25 years or so she had studied an incredible amount of self-empowerment tools and techniques in workshops, retreats, and seminars around the world.
As her knowledge flooded back into her awareness, it became crystal clear to her that she was going to get through come hell or high water and this was a major turning point in her process. She had the tools and the only decision she had to make was if she would actually start using them. Little by little she picked up her heart, and herself, from the floor and started healing. She immersed herself in the field of heartbreak and mourning and experimented on herself with all the tools and tactics she could find. And in the end, she got out of the deep pit of despair she had been in, her will to live returned, and she started to see how in the end she had put the responsibility for her safety and happiness outside of herself. To make a long story short, it led her on a farther path toward self-love and connection.
A while later, from a place deep down inside of her, the idea for the “Heal your broken heart now” program was born. She felt a strong urge to support women going through the same thing and developed the result-oriented approach to get from breakup (and breakdown) to breakthrough.
StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Erna to further discuss her program and how she’s getting others to get through a painful split and here’s what went down:
How did you get into this line of work?
For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the topic of love and relationships, as well as self-development. For over 25 years I studied many, MANY modalities and techniques all over the world. NLP, Psych K, NVC (Non-Violent Communication), Meditation, The Sedona Method, Internal Family Systems, The Work, and various forms of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), and several others.
When the Coronavirus hit, I lost my job of 18 years as a cruise director so I decided to reinvent myself. It was clear to me that it was finally time to starts contributing to others with my know-how in the field of self-development and -empowerment.
I chose EFT as the main modality, as I have been a practitioner for many years, but as people always search for help with a specific problem, even though EFT can help with pretty much issue, I needed a niche. And then from somewhere deep down the idea came floating to the surface. I wanted to support women going through a breakup or divorce. Of course, this had everything to do with my own history and how hard breakups always hit me, especially the last one I went through, from what I thought was the man of my life.
At the same time, no matter how excruciatingly painful a breakup or divorce can be, I very much look at these major changes in life as an opportunity for growth and expansion, or in other words, transformation. And I really wanted to support other women to use this time in their life as an invitation to something better, rather than as only a painful period of grief and despair.
What are some primary issues that you see your clients going through?
The issues that someone goes through after a breakup or divorce are basically the same as the grieving process when someone passes away. However, romantic grief is often underestimated, and often friends and family cannot really hold the space for the person going through it.
There are disbelief and denial, anger, a bargaining phase, depression, and finally, if the other stages are truly lived through and processed, acceptance. Not necessarily in that order by the way, because it is definitely not a straight line.
However, this process can be helped along a lot if you do not just leave it up to time. In fact, the saying that “Time heals all wounds’ is complete nonsense. If you do not consciously go through the aftermath of a breakup or divorce, you might be suffering for years on end. It is like not setting the break of a bone, but just walking around with your broken limb until it grows back together by itself, which does not always happen properly.
So how do you speed up the process? I found that using EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) Tapping can help people move through major issues extremely quickly and the technique is very easy to learn and extremely effective. After the first session, people can implement it in their life right away when they run into anything they want to clear.
Tell us a bit more about the Emotional Freedom Technique?
EFT is one of the most powerful transformational tools out there right now.
It is a meridian tapping technique, originally developed by a man named Roger Callahan. Later, several different varieties were developed by other people. I use a mix of traditional EFT, Faster EFT, and Positive EFT. The tapping on certain energy points in your body relieves blocked energy and makes things flow again.
When facilitated by a skilled practitioner, it can lead you deeply into your limiting concepts, fears, and assumptions around a topic while providing the possibility to let them go.
How can people make their relationship breakup proof?
In my perspective, the most important way to keep a strong connection between two people is by being completely transparent and authentic with each other. I call it the “everything on the table” strategy. No matter how scary, you need to be able to open up and be completely vulnerable to each other. If at any time you are trying to keep up appearances, or you are walking on eggshells, responding in a certain way based on what you think the other person will think or feel when you speak your truth, you are going to lose the connection. So, no games, no strategies, no manipulation whatsoever. It is the only way to make sure the other person really loves and appreciates you for you, and that is what we ultimately all want, right?
How can people avoid breakup?
To be honest, I don’t think that you can always avoid a breakup, nor should staying together forever be the goal of a relationship. The goal is to grow together, and if your relationship is not growing, it is dying. There is nothing in between.
Relationships have a tendency to show us our highest love, but also our deepest wounds. They are always a mirror for what is going on in ourselves. Other people, especially those close to us, trigger our childhood pain, but the pain was already there, the other person did not cause them.
These wounds keep getting triggered as an invitation for healing. And even though it may seem like we are the victim of another person’s actions, we never really are.
The question is: Are you able to look at it like that and take responsibility for your own triggers and not blame the other person. Or do you believe the other person was at fault and you were the victim?
If you feel like you are at the effect of the other person, sooner or later you are going to see them as the enemy and things will go downhill from there.
If you want to avoid a breakup, you have to BOTH be on the same side, as a team, and BOTH be willing to really look at your own behavior and triggers.
And don’t get me wrong, this is hard, extremely hard, for it often seems SO real that if only the other person would do something differently, you would not feel so bad.
Does the same advice work for both men and women?
I think it does. Yet I find that women are often a little more interested to read books about relationships than men. The same goes for going to workshops or courses to work on things when the relationship is not going well. This is too bad, because knowledge is power, and just by being conscious of the dynamics in a relationship and your own part in it, you can dramatically increase your chances of getting through a rough patch.
Other than that, men even more so than women in our society have been conditioned to hide their true feelings and may find it even more challenging to speak up and say what they really think or feel.
What are some primary issues that you see your clients going through?
A lot of women are struggling with obsessive thinking about their ex and what happened, ruminating. Also, there is often a huge urge to reach out and discuss things, or “get closure”, but this usually just makes things worse, as the other person will hardly ever tell them what they would like to hear. The thinking is also a way to not feel the painful feelings that keep coming up. We think that if only we could understand what happened, or why the other person did what they did, we would not hurt so much. Unfortunately, there is no way around the pain, although with the right tools and support you can move through it more easily and without unnecessary suffering.
What advice do you give your clients about going through a breakup or divorce?
The number one thing is: “Be gentle with yourself”. This is an extremely challenging time to go through and yet, often we are beating ourselves up about things we think we should have said or done differently. We tell ourselves stories about how we were obviously not good enough, or important enough to the other person, or whatever other things that spook around in our heads. Stop it! You are doing the best you can and those stores have a huge impact on how you feel and are usually so negative that they will not exactly make you feel any better.
Also, do your best to make a container for your grief. It sounds weird, but schedule a certain amount of time each day to sit and be with yourself and your feelings, journal, meditate, cry, draw a mindmap with all the negative things about your ex. And then, put your attention on other things, no matter how mundane, until the next session with yourself. Many people find themselves completely obsessed with the breakup and this has an addictive aspect, which is good to get a grip on.
Can you give us an example of a typical session?
My clients are generally powerful women, with a great career and many things going for them. However, because of the breakup or divorce, they have temporarily lost their balance, and forgotten how strong they really are.
During my 5-week one on one (online) coaching program, in each session we start with what is most pressing at that particular moment, whether it is an emotional issue, practical thing, fear about the future, etc. We do a series of tapping sequences, completely tailored to the situation of the client, and move from a high number on their “SUD” scale (Subjective Unit of Distress, the women rate themselves from 1 -10), usually a 9 or a 10, down to a 1 or a 2, or sometimes even a 0. So the situation is still exactly the same, but the women feel completely differently about it. It is quite amazing.
And in 5 sessions, the thoughts and feelings around the whole situation have changed tremendously, and so has the women’s self-esteem, confidence, trust in life, etc, etc.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
For me, the most difficult part is to see how we hurt each other in relationships, not only partnerships, but also with our family and children, or even friends. And that this all stems from a huge lack of knowledge. We learn all kinds of completely irrelevant stuff at school, but there is no relationship class, where we learn why we can get so upset by other people, and how to properly communicate about it when that happens
Our education about relationships comes from movies and song lyrics, and to this day most of the world population still believe in unrealistic fairy tales about love and have no idea what it really takes to create and maintain an adult, conscious relationship.
Visit www.healyourbrokenheartnow.com for more information on Erna and her work. You can also download a free series of 7 audios with tips, tricks, and tools to help you deal with your heartbreak, or book a complimentary Clarity Call and see if she can support you get over your breakup or divorce.